Achieving multiculturalism at work

In a society where diversity brings richness to life, we also know our differences and lack of understanding can sometimes cause tension in both the broader community, and at work.

So, what is the best way to create a working environment that truly encourages cultural diversity and a feeling of inclusiveness in your team?

In the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks, a group of 17 influential business leaders in New Zealand created, which was launched with an open letter to other businesses.

The cohort acknowledged that racism and discrimination were still rife and urged other leaders to join the group in promoting healthier behaviours and work practices.

Their advice on the best way for businesses to commit to inclusion was:

Create a culture where words, behaviours and systems that directly or indirectly discriminate against people, are not tolerated.
That a working culture of openness and honesty should be encouraged, where people feel empowered to speak up when they see casual and systemic discrimination, in a way that supports learning.

Our practical tip: Formally advise staff that this is the standard expected at your organisation and step out the actionable pathway for individuals to raise concerns in a safe environment.

Provide staff with access to training, tools and techniques to help them understand what actions support and do not support inclusivity

Our practical tip: Look to seek advice from organisations within the community that provide resources or training in this area. Multicultural organisations are a great place to start because they exist to promote tolerance and will help wherever they can.

Continuously review and update organisational-wide processes, such as recruitment to ensure they remain relevant and promote the diversity and difference needed

Our practical tip: Ask new staff about any religious or personal observances that are important to them at the time of recruitment and look to assist in ways to help them meet those obligations.

Celebrating and acknowledging the value of all aspects of diversity and difference in our organisation

Our practical tip: Allocate money in the social budget to get different staff members to share their favourite cultural cuisines at morning tea. Food certainly brings people together and provides the opportunity to ask questions you’ve always wanted to, in a comfortable context.