In today's interconnected world, the word "diversity" resonates in every corner of the globe. Diverse organizations benefit from higher levels of engagement, collaboration, and productivity. In short, diversity can make your organization stronger and more effective. Yet, diversity carries with it unique connotations and complexities that vary from one region to another.
For businesses operating across continents such as DKSH, particularly in the diverse and multifaceted landscapes of Asia, understanding these local nuances is critical. But amidst these varied interpretations, there lies a shared objective: ensuring that every employee, regardless of their cultural or geographical background, feels safe, valued, and involved.
Understanding the Local Context
It's pivotal to recognize that the concept of diversity isn't one-size-fits-all. In one country, the focus might be on gender diversity, while in another, it could be on ethnic or religious differences. For instance, in India, diversity might encompass the multitude of languages spoken, or the various religions practiced. Meanwhile, in Japan, the challenge might be balancing age-old traditions with modern inclusivity practices.
There are some countries where LGBTQ relationships are broadly accepted and legally protected, while in other countries such relationships are taboo or even illegal. For businesses to succeed, they must adapt their HR strategies to fit these local contexts.
Common Human Needs Transcend Borders
While regional definitions of diversity may differ, some fundamental human needs are universal. Everyone wants to be seen, heard, valued, and respected. Businesses must prioritize creating environments where these needs are met. This entails fostering open channels of communication, promoting mutual respect, and recognizing individual contributions.
Helping managers learn to create less hierarchical, more engaging workspaces goes a long way to address these common needs.
The Power of Inclusion
Diversity without inclusion is like a puzzle with missing pieces. We might have a variety of colors and shapes, but without integrating them effectively, the picture remains incomplete. Cultivating an inclusive culture means not only bringing diverse individuals into the organization but also ensuring they play an integral role in decision-making processes, project leadership, and company direction.
We have found feedback from employee engagement surveys a powerful tool to identify where employees are not feeling included so we can prioritize appropriate remedies.
Empowering Through Education
Often, misunderstandings and prejudices stem not from malice, but from lack of experience or exposure. To bridge the gaps within diverse teams, businesses should invest in awareness training and encourage knowledge-sharing sessions. By understanding a colleague's background, festivals, or traditions, employees can foster deeper connections and dispel misconceptions.
Taking it one step further, we need to help employees learn that each of us has a multitude of lenses through which we view the world. Appreciating and recognizing that those different views are valid, helps us appreciate each other better and narrows the gaps between us.
Celebrating Differences, Embracing Unity
Every culture, tradition, or individual background brings with it a wealth of experiences, ideas, and insights. Companies that embrace and celebrate these differences position themselves to be more innovative and adaptable. However, while it's essential to acknowledge these differences, it's equally crucial to find common ground – shared goals, values, or aspirations – that unify teams and drive them towards a common objective.
It is helpful to recognize that each company has its own culture and what we are trying to create is a common culture that uniquely reflects who we are and who we aspire to be.
In the ever-evolving landscapes of global business, diversity is both a challenge and an opportunity. Companies that navigate these waters with empathy, understanding, and a genuine commitment to inclusion will not only thrive but also contribute to a more inclusive and harmonious world.
As we operate in diverse regions, particularly in Asia, our guiding star remains the same: to create an environment where every individual feels safe, valued, and deeply involved. Because in the end, it's not just about recognizing our differences, but also about celebrating the shared human spirit that binds us all.
Read more on DKSH and our HR programs here.
Christopher Schultz is the Head of Group Capabilities, Culture, Engagement, and Diversity at DKSH. Originally from California, Chris has worked almost for 20 years in Thailand and Hong Kong, delivering Human Resources solutions and facilitating leadership development across Asia Pacific, Europe, and North America.