May 21st is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development also known as Diversity Day. For over twenty years, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has led this celebration of cultural diversities between different countries, states, and people around the World.
Diversity Day offers an opportunity to reflect on the benefits of cultural diversity and highlight its significance as an agent of inclusion and positive change. While this is a day celebrated around the world as a way to promote the acceptance of each other’s differences and foster world peace and sustainability, it’s also an opportunity to consider how we can advocate for cultural competence and cooperation even closer to home.
Business leaders have taken notice of how workplaces have grown more diverse over the years. Never before have organizations had as many employees and customers from such a diverse mix of ages, genders, ethnicities and races. Advances in technology have fueled this growth even further, allowing us to work with people and customers from all over the world.
The benefits to this increased diversity are many. Studies show more diverse groups tend to be more creative and, in many cases, outperform their less diverse counterparts. However, that doesn’t mean that diversity doesn’t come with challenges and organizations have been increasingly seeking out ways to foster cultural competence. Business leaders not only want to foster inclusive and open mindsets, but they also want to provide employees with strategies and skills that will improve their cross-cultural communication within their teams and with their customers and clients.
On the world stage, building cultural harmony is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development. As business leaders, you can do your part to create cultural competence that will lead to even more diverse and inclusive environments, stronger teams and happier customers.