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14 Ways to Promote Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

14 Ways to Promote Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

Today, promoting cultural diversity in the workplace is a must! Not only does a company’s cultural diversity affect its culture, but it also plays a key role in impacting overall business success.

In this guide, you’ll find 14 ways for your company to promote cultural diversity in the workplace – all while bonding and building a stronger team culture. Learn what cultural diversity is, its importance, and actionable, inclusive steps to start building your organization’s cultural diversity at any time.

Read on to see how you can promote cultural diversity in your workplace with over a dozen activities for in-person and remote teams!


Keep reading for more details on these workplace diversity activities, and more ideas!

  • Offer employee resource groups
  • Avoid and call out problematic language
  • Implement inclusive recruitment practices
  • Offer flexible holiday time for religious observances
  • Engage a DEI expert to assist your team in reaching your DEI goals

In this post, you’ll find:

  • The answer to the question, “Why is diversity in the workplace important?”
  • Diversity and inclusivity culture development for workplace teams
  • Ideas on how to highlight the value of diversity in the workplace
  • How to share the benefits of diversity in the workplace to all team members
  • Ways to avoid discrimination and harassment in the workplace
  • How to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace

Cultural Diversity

What is Cultural Diversity?

Cultural diversity is a multifaceted concept that encompasses much more than just ethnic groups. It encompasses a wide array of elements such as language, religion, socio-economic status, customs, behavior patterns, beliefs, and art – all of which contribute to a person’s unique cultural identity.

These influences of diversity are a fundamental aspect of the human experience and a multicultural workplace. Each factor can influence one’s approach to work and interpersonal relations.


Importance of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

In today’s workplace, cultural diversity should be a top priority for all companies. Workplace diversity leads to more innovative ideas, better decision-making, and stronger business performance. Additionally, cultural diversity fosters understanding and respect among employees.

As a result, companies can build a healthier and more productive work environment by recognizing the importance of diversity in the workplace, as well as taking steps to counter potential harassment and discrimination.

Additionally, cultural diversity has been consistently linked to enhanced business benefits. For instance, McKinsey & Company found that companies with more ethnic and culturally diverse leadership were 33% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability. Plus, MarketWatch reports that greater representation of BIPOC people (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) in management roles is tied to higher cash flow, net profit, revenue, return on equity, and stock performance!


Challenges to Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

Promoting cultural diversity in any organization can be a complex endeavor. It involves navigating a multitude of cultural backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. Sometimes, this leads to misunderstandings or conflicts.

Moreover, addressing deep-seated biases and fostering an inclusive environment requires sustained effort and commitment. Nevertheless, understanding and overcoming these challenges are key steps in fostering an inclusive environment.


Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias refers to the subtle, often unintentional, and automatic stereotypes, attitudes, or beliefs individuals hold about groups of people. Common forms include affinity bias (favoring those similar to oneself) and confirmation bias (seeking information that confirms preexisting beliefs).

To combat these biases, organizations can provide bias awareness training to help individuals recognize and address biases. In addition, implementing structured decision-making processes that incorporate diverse perspectives and adopting inclusive recruitment practices are great strategies. Plus, fostering a culture of open dialogue and inclusion can further mitigate the impact of unconscious bias and potential harassment or discrimination.


Stereotyping and Prejudice

Stereotyping and prejudice are deeply ingrained social issues that can perpetuate harmful assumptions about individuals. These biases can lead to discriminatory practices and harassment in the workplace. As a result, individuals may be unfairly treated or denied opportunities because of preconceived notions. The fallout can be extensive and damaging. The employees causing these issues can alienate other employees, stifle their potential, and foster a hostile work environment marked by harassment and mistrust.

To address these issues, education and awareness are vital. By promoting diversity and inclusion training as well as cultural sensitivity training, organizations can help employees recognize and challenge their own biases. In turn, this can lead to more empathy and understanding among team members. Moreover, raising awareness about the negative consequences of stereotyping and prejudice is key to dismantling these harmful attitudes.


Resistance to Change

Coworkers Talking

Resistance to change can pose a significant challenge when promoting cultural diversity at work. This resistance often manifests as a reluctance to alter established practices or a fear of losing influence or status within the organization. For example, employees may resist diversity initiatives if they perceive them as threats to their traditional ways of working. Or, if they fear that their own positions may be marginalized in a more inclusive environment.

Understand that this may be a sensitivity for some employees and provide clear communication about the benefits of diversity for all. Emphasize how diversity can enhance innovation and overall performance. Involving employees in the decision-making process and showcasing successful role models from diverse backgrounds can also help alleviate resistance.


Lack of Leadership Support

Leadership buy-in and support are critical in promoting cultural diversity within an organization. When leadership does not prioritize or model inclusive behavior, it can send a message that diversity is not a priority. This can result in a lack of commitment from employees.

Effective leaders play a pivotal role in driving diversity initiatives by setting clear diversity goals, creating diverse leadership teams, and consistently communicating the importance of diversity and inclusion. Leading by example, acknowledging and addressing bias, and actively participating in diversity training and programs can also demonstrate a strong commitment.


How to Promote Cultural Diversity and Inclusion at Work

Employee Resource Group

1. Offer Employee Resource Groups

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are employee-led groups within organizations aimed at promoting diversity, inclusion, and professional development. To implement ERGs effectively, you’ll need employee interest, leadership buy-in, and actionable group goals. To get started, learn from the team at Culture Amp on How to start an employee resource group at your company.


2. Host Implicit Bias Training

This training raises awareness among employees about their unconscious biases. Furthermore, it helps individuals recognize and address biases in their decision-making and interactions. By acknowledging and understanding one’s biases, individuals are better equipped to challenge stereotypes and avoid harassment. Dive into Harvard Business Review’s article, Unconscious Bias Training That Works, to learn best practices and benefits!


3. Implement Inclusive Recruitment Practices

Fostering a more diverse team starts with the recruitment process, so implementing a review of your hiring protocols is a smart move. For instance – if you use an automated system to filter resumes, it’s important to know which parameters the system is using, to ensure groups of applicants aren’t being rejected for reasons rooted in bias. Additionally, it’s important to address and remove bias throughout the hiring process, from job descriptions to interview questions and applicant assessments.


4. Avoid and Call Out Problematic Language

Meeting

It may not be possible for us to always be aware of every problematic word as language evolves. That said, create a corporate culture in which employees feel comfortable calling out unacceptable words and learning from each other. Discover how to speak more inclusively with Buffer’s guide to inclusive language. These tips are geared toward startups and tech companies but bring benefits to people in all industries.


5. Bring in a DEI Expert

DEI experts bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in fostering an inclusive environment. They can assess your organization’s current practices, identify areas for improvement, and help to design tailored strategies to promote diversity and inclusion effectively. Moreover, external leaders, such as DEI consultants, can host activities and workshops that provide fresh perspectives and create safe spaces for open dialogue.


6. Offer Flexible Holiday Leave for Different Religious Observances

Holidays and religious observances can be deeply personal, even sacred, times to practice important rituals, spend time with family, and reflect on our lives. Rather than offering specific days off, such as Christmas, consider giving employees a set number of holiday days per year to use as they wish. This system helps ensure that employees of all backgrounds and religious beliefs can celebrate their special occasions without worry.


7. Welcome Different Communication Styles

Communication between Employees

Cultures often have distinct norms and preferences regarding communication, including verbal and non-verbal cues, directness, and hierarchy in conversations. Recognizing and respecting these differences helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures that everyone’s voice is heard and valued. By acknowledging and accommodating various communication styles, organizations can create an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing themselves.


8. Avoid Stereotypes

By consciously rejecting stereotypes, individuals and organizations can create a more open and respectful atmosphere free of harassment and micro-agressions. This approach encourages the appreciation of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives and may require ongoing training. By avoiding stereotypes, you can foster an inclusive workplace where people are not confined to preconceived notions but are instead evaluated based on their unique abilities and contributions.


9. Facilitate Ongoing Trainings

Diversity and inclusion training can be a powerful way to reinforce your company’s values and commitment to equity throughout the year. When planning employee diversity training, it can be helpful to consider what you hope to accomplish, what are your employee’s greatest needs and challenges, and how a training’s lessons will be ongoing after the session. Look to Unexpected Virtual Tours and Training guide on Effective Diversity Training to get started!


10. Approach Feedback with Sensitivity

Employees Collaborating

Feedback is an essential part of professional growth. But, it must be delivered with cultural sensitivity and an understanding of diverse perspectives. A sensitive approach acknowledges that individuals may interpret feedback differently based on their backgrounds and experiences. In addition, it strives to create a safe and non-threatening environment for open dialogue. For a tangible way to approach this topic, have team members take an assessment designed to reveal strengths and communication styles, such as Strengthsfinder, Enneagram, or Meyers-Briggs.


11. Encourage Employee Expression

When employees feel empowered to voice their perspectives and beliefs, it creates an environment where diverse viewpoints are valued and respected. This not only enriches decision-making processes with a variety of insights but also fosters a sense of belonging and psychological safety. Employees are more likely to engage and contribute when they believe their voices matter.


12. Develop Inclusive Policies

Make sure your company’s policies create a top-down culture of inclusivity. It will be challenging for employees to take DEI efforts seriously if, for example, your company’s dress code bans dreadlocks, or if employees do not respect other people’s pronouns. Creating and implementing inclusive policies can go a long way toward helping your team feel appreciated and supported.


13. Establish Inclusive Leadership

Inclusive Leadership

Inclusive leaders create an environment where all employees feel welcomed, respected, and empowered. These leaders model inclusive behavior by fostering open communication, equitable decision-making, and opportunities for professional growth. Establishing inclusive leadership sends a clear message that diversity is not just a checkbox but a fundamental asset of company culture. Additionally, leadership can help send the message that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated by taking these issues seriously and taking swift action to investigate and rectify situations if and when they occur.


14. Celebrate National Heritage Months Together

These designated months provide opportunities to honor and showcase the cultures, traditions, and histories of employees within the organization. Acknowledging and appreciating the richness of diverse backgrounds fosters a sense of unity and shared experiences. Moreover, it encourages open dialogue, educates individuals about different cultures, and breaks down stereotypes. Look to Unexpected Virtual Tours and Training’s Diversity Team Building Calendar: 2024 to get started! You can also browse our DEI team building programs on topics like Pride Month, AAPI Heritage Month, Indigenous and Native American Heritage Month, and more.


Encourage Cultural Diversity with Our Team Building Solutions

Unexpected Virtual Tours and Training

In summary, every company can gain immense benefits by promoting cultural diversity in the workplace. Whether it be employee satisfaction, improved performance, or higher profitability, today’s workforce is only stronger when embracing diversity and inclusion. Gain these benefit and start improving your company culture by promoting these strategies today!

Unexpected Virtual Tours & Training is proud to offer a variety of DEI training programs for virtual, hybrid, and in-person teams. Led by knowledgable and friendly live guides, our sessions immerse participants in knowledge, fun activities, collaborative exercises, and more. Loved by teams at Google, UPS, Coca-Cola, and Salesforce, see why we have a 5-star rating on Google, with over 1,700 reviews!

For more ideas on how to encourage cultural diversity check out our guides on diversity training and activities for heritage months, such as Hispanic Heritage Month, and more turnkey options at Unexpected Virtual Tours & Training! 

Ready to learn more? Connect with us below, and a member of our team will be in touch to help!