Updated: 5 days ago
Author: Debora Amoah-Ofosuhene
Date of Publication: 24/03/2023
We have all at a point heard of the term “multiculturalism”. Whether at school, on tv, or in a book/ article we read, we have come across this term. But what exactly does this mean?
Some people may be familiar with this word and others may not be. Some people may even consider themselves multicultural. So, who is considered multicultural? Is this a bad term?
As the world is becoming more diverse, our society and communities are also becoming multicultural. Due to immigration, there are many who grow up in culturally diverse neighborhoods.
They have a different culture at home and speak two or more languages. Also, they interact with people that are also culturally different from them. Therefore, many people from culturally diverse backgrounds go to school, work together, and even settle or start families together. The world has evolved dramatically and continues to do so.
What is Multiculturalism?
First of all, the term “multiculturalism” is very complex and has different meanings to people in different parts of the world. Yet, it is defined according to Clayton (2020) as a way to talk about the fact that different groups of people live in different places.
In fact, this means that people are different and have different power relationships. These are based on their race, ethnicity, religion, geography, and other cultural markers. Aside from that, it also refers to the formal recognition and integration of people with such differences through policies and discourses. So, these recognize the rights and needs of minorities but also control the terms of integration.
Therefore, in simple terms, multiculturalism refers to a society where people from many diverse cultures/races live together. In this society, all cultures have equal rights and opportunities, and none of them are ignored or thought of as unimportant.
Examples of Multicultural societies
There are some nations that have multiple official languages. Nations where the population speaks 2 or more languages. The embracement of multiple languages is an example of multiculturalism. Aside from multilingual populations, other examples are religious diversity, and various cultural holidays being normalized.
There is also the availability of diverse/foreign cuisines in our daily life. Due to immigration, there are now Malay and Indian populations living in Singapore. Also, Chinatown in Lower Manhattan and Little India in Queens, New York. This is the same city that hosts many kinds of events. Events such as the African American Day Parade, the Lunar New Year Parade, and many more. These are a few examples of multiculturalism in our current society.
Advantages of multiculturalism in the workplace
As we can already tell by now, most societies are multicultural. Thanks to globalization, there is a lot more interconnectedness and cultural exchange. Therefore, we meet more people that are culturally different from us. This has a lot of benefits for companies, especially if the workplace reflects the multicultural society we live in.
Multiculturalism promotes the mixing of diverse cultures and the sharing of ideas and points of view between them.
Ideas can be shared to create new opportunities, innovations, and more effective working relationships.
On an international scale, it brings together diverse groups of people from different cultures and ethnic groups in a company.
It creates cultural awareness, intelligence, and local knowledge which helps make marketing more targeted.
Using a pool of people from different cultures lets an organization find and keep the best workers.
Having employees who have knowledge of multiple languages.
Culturally fluent employees who can navigate customers’ culture.
Employees who can adapt themselves and their mindset based on the context and situation
Additionally, businesses face some challenges when trying to be inclusive. Multiculturalism goes hand in hand with diversity, equity, and inclusion. For this reason, many companies recently have tried to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion policies to the workplace.
Unfortunately, some challenges come with creating a multicultural workplace. For example, members from some cultures may get overlooked. This could be because of how people think and perceive them.
Thus, prejudices and negative stereotyping can get in the way of a team's unity. As a result, it is very important for companies to learn how to manage a multicultural team. Besides that, there are also international laws on visas and employment that can be challenging, not forgetting the cost of living.
So, businesses will need to do their best to lessen the problems mentioned. This way they can benefit from them and create a good working environment for a multicultural team.
How can companies find culturally diverse employees?
In this globalized world, it is not impossible to be inclusive and have a workplace that reflects today’s society. Especially nowadays, where most people are multicultural, companies must be ready to add some DE&I policies to their company policies. Before they try to recruit multicultural people, they need to ensure they can accommodate and manage a culturally diverse team. So having some DEI training for already set-up employees is a good idea.
Essential points for finding diverse employees
When it comes to finding employees, the recruitment stage is very important. Therefore, businesses must make sure that everyone, regardless of culture, race, ethnicity can apply for the job position. The recruiters must use unbiased methods to select the employees. For example, they can have structured interviews and an interview panel with multiple people.
Use LinkedIn as a platform to communicate with a diverse group of people. Professionals from all over the globe have LinkedIn and use that platform to find or hire employees.
Having Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policies will attract people from multicultural backgrounds to apply for jobs.
Try finding expats on the job market (LinkedIn)
Connect with universities in foreign countries to be able to find people from other countries in the local market.
Examples of diversity recruitment tools
In conclusion, due to the globalization of the world and immigration, most societies have become multicultural. For this reason, people come more often in contact with others who are culturally different from them. Therefore, in a multicultural society, businesses should do their best to be open to diversity. Also, they have to be more inclusive and not discriminating against cultures.
They should also find ways to manage their diverse team to lessen the challenges of having a multicultural team. As there is no culture inferior to the other, all cultures should be respected. So, when businesses reflect the multicultural society in the workplace, they can enjoy the benefits that multicultural employees bring.
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