Cultural Diversity in the Workplace: Challenges and Benefits

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Canada has prides itself in immigration, which is one of the biggest sources of its population growth. In order to sustain the growth it is a key that we foster an environment that is comfortable for all. We see the effect of this diversity mostly within our workforce. This has then caused a unique environment within the workforce that seeks and demands a climate that encompasses all the differences. Diversity can take many forms namely age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, mental and physical capabilities and ethnicity and culture are the main areas of diversity and have a continuous impact throughout our lives. Due to increasing difference in Canadian population and competition coming from nearly every continent, companies and organizations need to focus on diversity, because this will help them also better to understand their diverse customers. “Managing and valuing diversity is a key component of effective people management, which can improve workplace productivity”. Working with people within the 21st century then requires a lot of sensitivity and respect for diversity. In order for this to be achieved, it is imperative that both the staff and supervisors recognize, learn and promote diversity in the workplace to all employees. Interacting with people from different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs requires effective management within the diverse workforce populations. Diversity can aid in bringing awareness of different cultures, races and age difference into a mix, but can have negative effects if people are not well prepared in how to work in that environment. In view of this, this paper will conduct a research on the importance of diversity in the workplace. This paper will identify the importance of diversity in the workplace and address benefits and challenges of managing diversity.

Define Diversity
“Diversity is generally defined as acknowledging, understanding, accepting, valuing, and celebrating differences among people with respect to age, class, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, spiritual practice, and public assistance status”. Cultural diversity could be seen as a process that creates a work environment to include everyone, understands that each individual is unique, and recognizes cultural differences. Diversity is a mixture of people with different backgrounds, cultures and races in an organization, people that not only identify themselves, but respect and accept others.

“True diversity goes a step further to include differences that are not visible to the eye – differences in the ways people approach their jobs. The two are, of course, linked: a person’s background and circumstances will inevitably affect their work style and ethic.” Employers must expand their ways of looking for new employees if they want to be competitive, and try to find the best applicant by focusing on diverse candidates. An organization would not only benefit from the diverse workplace, but it will be able to reach and better understand the diverse clientele.

Benefits of diversity in the workplace
“Diversity is beneficial to both associates and employers. Although associates are interdependent in the workplace, respecting individual differences can increase productivity. Diversity in the workplace can reduce lawsuits and increase marketing opportunities, recruitment, creativity, and business image”. Diversity should be discussed among individuals and organizations, people should be encouraged and promoted to value the differences each one of us has and appreciate them. We all have and bring different ideas that could benefit any organization, especially immigrants that could contribute international skills, languages and experience, which will help an organization achieving its goals. The advantage of speaking more than one language, the experience from all around the world and the understanding of different cultures are just few of the positive...
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