Multiculturalism and diversity can enrich the soul and expand your horizons. Unfortunately, there are obstacles that hold people back from experiencing all of the many benefits that come from diversity. Unawareness, a lack of opportunity, and maybe even a little bit of anxiety. After all, there’s a lot to learn. Where would a person even begin?
In this article, we talk about why diversity is important, both within business and the world at large. We also talk about how you can learn more about other people’s cultures in a productive and respectful way.
Love by Learning
America might be a melting pot, but how much is really taught about historical figures from different cultures? Some of this education has to happen from within the school system, of course. They are the ones who do most of the teaching after all.
But that leaves the majority of the country stagnated in their understanding of multiculturalism. Making a point to learn more about people from different backgrounds is a personally fulfilling way to uplift mankind, enrich yourself, and better understand your neighbors.
Where to start? Everyone will go about this in their own way, but you can always look at the calendar if you feel the need for a starting point.
Pride Month, Black History Month, Latin History Month. There’s always something going on. The celebrations may seem superficial, but you can give them meaning by opting to participate. Head over to your local library and start asking for book recommendations. Librarians are very good for that sort of thing, and before you know it, you’ll have an awesome reading list to start your journey on.
Diversity in Hiring
“Diversity in hiring,” as a concept has generated more controversy than one might at first assume. Critics are always quick to suggest that diverse hiring initiatives are political moves designed to appease people, rather than strengthen the company.
Are they on to something? This is America, after all, where merit is supposed to win out over any other consideration.
There are problems with this argument. For one thing, minorities haven’t had the same access to high-powered jobs in the past. Sometimes this discrimination was written right into the law. Other times, it happened through silent personal bias.
In all cases, the outcome was the same. High-powered positions and the wealth that they create went predominantly to white men. Actively seeking candidates from different backgrounds isn’t about disregarding all other hiring considerations — skill, experience, education — just to focus on race. It’s about removing obstacles that never should have been there to begin with.
The argument against diversity leadership initiatives also seems to imply that the company isn’t benefitting as well. This is unambiguously incorrect. Businesses with diverse leadership consistently outperform those with more monolithic cultural representation.
Diversity gives businesses access to a much wider range of experiences. It also helps to motivate the rest of your staff. After all, it’s nice to see yourself reflected in the company leadership. People who are minorities working entry-level positions may consequently feel more motivated to stick around for the long haul, knowing there is a promotion track for them.
Respect is Crucial
Of course, the way you go about learning about diversity is everything. Words like “cultural appropriation” feel a little loaded these days because both sides of the political divide use it as a buzzphrase.
If you’re for multiculturalism, “cultural appropriation,” is what the bad people do to mock and belittle minorities. If you tend be of the mind that there is no reason to go out of your way to learn about other cultural groups, “cultural appropriation,” furthers your point. “I’m doomed if I try to learn. I’m doomed if I don’t.”
Here’s the deal. Most people aren’t trying to police the way that you interact with their culture, but they do want you to treat the things that are significant to them with respect. You wouldn’t want someone walking into your home, mocking the way you hold a dinner table conversation with your family. Similarly, no one wants others to misappropriate cultural traditions.
Approach your learning journey with an attitude of respect. Mind other people’s feelings, and be willing to apologize if you make a mistake.
Guest Author Bio
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.
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