Taking cultural considerations into account
According to (Bill, Miller, Archer & Hague 2002), the best way to manage cultural diversity is to:
- Encourage people who are representative of other cultures and communities to join the organisation.
- Become aware of the cultural diversity and try to understand all its dimensions. Seek the commitment of those involved to nurture cultural diversity. Deal with the myths, stereotypes and cultural differences that interfere with the full contribution of members.
Remove the major barriers that prevent people from diverse cultures from working together. The best method of doing this is to develop better understanding and practise better communication:
- Learn to listen. Listen for what is really being said, not what you want to hear.
- Invite others to be a part of the discussion.
- Learn to communicate clearly and fairly.
- Do not misjudge people because of accent or grammar.
- Test for understanding. Ask questions to be certain you know what is being said.
- Adapt your communication style to fit the situation. The telephone causes problems in understanding between cultures. Be explicit. Individuals from different cultures may react differently. Know who you are communicating with.
- Use language that fosters trust and alliance.
- When conflicts arise, the problem may result from style rather than content. Review, revise and revisit your main objective to be certain the content is clear. The way you say something may be more important than what you say.
An appreciation and acceptance of both commonalities and differences are essential to effective working relationships.
- Maintain the commitment to achieve the awareness, understanding, communication and nurturing of a culturally diverse organisation.
- Encourage and support discussion among people throughout the organisation about the meaning of diversity.
- Demonstrate ethical commitment to fairness and to the elimination of discrimination in all its forms.
- Understand the dimensions of diversity, use inclusive and valuing language, quote diverse sources, readily adapt to differences in communication styles of diverse people, display respect for human differences and be aware of and comfortable about dealing with diverse issues.
- Mentor and empower diverse individuals and encourage others to do so as well.
Case Study: Misunderstanding culturally acceptable behaviours