Work Place Diversity
Eva Georgia - Keynote Speaker LA Multi-cultural Conference
We base our lives on seeking happiness and avoiding suffering, but the best we can do
for ourselves and for the planet, is to turn this whole way of thinking upside down. On a
very basic level, all human beings thinks that they should be happy . When life become
difficult or painful, we feel that something has gone wrong. This wouldn’t be a big
problem except for the fact that when we feel something has gone wrong, we’re willing
to do anything to feel ok again. We believe that there could be a lasting and security and
happiness available to us if we could only do the right thing.
When suffering arises we can use the opportunity to motivate and look for answers.
Many people including myself came to this spiritual path because of deep unhappiness.
It is human nature to seek God our darkest moments individually or as a society such as
in the case of events like 9-11, the sjunami, Katrina and more. It is in times like this that
color, creed or race don’t matter because people bind together in the face of suffering.
Suffering teach us empathy for others who are in the same boat. Furthermore, suffering
can humble us. Even the most arrogant and strongest person can be softened in the face
of losing someone dear.
It's going to take a jump-start, which requires four essential components: supportive and
committed leadership, an understanding of what a diversity issue is, a challenge of the
status quo, and a firm-wide assessment.
A diversity strategy and plan is about creating a better firm for all staff, not just
minorities and women. The diversity journey is a long one, with a destination that may at
times seem elusive. But the rewards are well worth it: a productive, passionate staff; a
strong, growing bottom line; and recognition and admiration by clients and competitors.
Jump-starting a diversity program ensures that a law firm's goals do not stall out in
neutral. There are issues you know you have, issues you suspect you have, and issues you
have no clue you have as a firm. Until you conduct some kind of audit or assessment of
the firm, you don't have your bearings.
Acknowledging the firm might have diversity issues is the first step to challenging the
status quo. Adhering to the status quo-doing the same things the firm has always done,
yet expecting better results-is organizational suicide. Firm leadership must understand
that acknowledging and addressing diversity issues will take an unyielding effort and an
unwavering commitment to long-term change. Leadership must admit the firm needs to
change certain policies, procedures, and business practices-both those that are formal and,
more importantly, those that are informal (written and unwritten rules of the firm).
Change the Organizational Culture
It is more difficult to change the culture of an existing organization than to create a
culture in a brand new organization. When an organizational culture is already
established, people must unlearn the old values, assumptions, and behaviors before they
can learn the new ones.
The two most important elements for creating organizational cultural change are
executive support and training.
Recognize that true communication is a “conversation.” It is two-way and real discussion
must result. It cannot be just a presentation.
• Leaders need to listen. Avoid defensiveness, excuse-making, and answers that are
given too quickly. Act with thoughtfulness.
Understanding Cross-Cultural Communication
A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES explores 14 different ways--verbal and nonverbal--that
two people from different cultures can fail to understand each other. Some of these
differences reflect language and translation problems. But many others involve subtle
differences in etiquette, gestures, values, norms, rituals, expectations, and other important
Cultural Awareness in the Multicultural workplace
“Understand the differences; act on the commonalities.” - Andrew Masondo, African
The nature of our workplaces has changed. We have moved away from the monochromic
make-up of our offices to one that is now colored by team members from all over the
world. With this new multicultural make-up come differences in cultures which in turn
bring differences in areas such as communication styles, approach to time, managerial
styles and a plethora of other cross cultural differences.
Cultural awareness is now crucial if multicultural teams within businesses are going to
maximise their potential. Although cross cultural differences do not always cause obvious
problems, it is their more subtle manifestations that can and do lead to a lack of clear
communication and poor performance.
Why is Cultural awareness necessary?
Cultural awareness is important to help members of a multicultural team identify where
things may be going wrong or how to best leverage their differences. Without some sort
of formal cross cultural awareness training it is difficult for multicultural teams to
identify areas that need attention.
Cultural differences manifest in many ways. Within a multicultural team, a person’s
cultural background will impact how they act and behave. There will be differences in
areas such as communication, attitude to towards conflict, approaches to task completion
and decision making styles. Unless people come to realise these differences between
them through cultural awareness, problems can continue and even intensify.
Cultural awareness in a multicultural workplace
Building real cross cultural synergy is only accomplished through properly considered
cultural awareness training. However, below are some tips for people working in
multicultural workplaces who wish to implement some basics.
Build your cultural knowledge: Try and learn a bit more about other cultures and
countries. Information is easily found on the internet and in books. You can also ask your
colleagues. Start to build some sort of cultural awareness.
Treat people as individuals: Information in other cultures is usually based on
generalizations. This means that the information will not apply to every single member of
that culture. Be aware of this and try and deal with people as individuals.
Implement your cultural knowledge: If you have discovered some useful information
about a culture that is represented in your multicultural team put it to the test. It is only by
putting these things into action that you will come to see the benefits and learn more.
Withhold assumptions: Try to avoid jumping to conclusions about people. One of the
first rules of cultural awareness is refraining from assuming one way is wrong and one is
Avoid blame: Blame is simply not constructive. When you see a situation break-down
rather than apportion blame, pick the situation apart with your ‘cultural awareness
glasses’ on and see what the cultural mechanics were. This helps resolve issues and act as
a precedent for the future.
Listen actively: Active listening is another cornerstone of cultural awareness. Rather
than listening to people you should really pay attention to the words used, the way it is
said, the context and also read between the lines.
Relay your knowledge: Work with colleagues in your multicultural team to relay
knowledge to one another. Help build up the skills set of the team.
Although not an exhaustive set of tips on cultural awareness, these simple pointers offer
some sort of guidance on how to go about realizing change in the multicultural
Cross Cultural Awareness Briefings
It is sometimes the simple mistakes we make, like showing the soles of our shoes or
giving a thumbs up, when dealing with different cultures that can ruin a relationship or
months of hard work. Learning the simple cultural do's and don'ts can avoid this and help
generate respect and understanding.
Cross Cultural Communication
The advent of the global economy is changing the fundamental nature of our
governments, businesses, organizations and populations. In short, we are no longer
constrained by state boundaries but have all become part of an interdependent
One of the key changes this has triggered is the need to communicate effectively with
different people in different languages and from different cultures.
It is now recognized that linguistic and cultural knowledge are two of the most vital areas
of knowledge that organizations must come to acquire if they are to integrate, progress
and succeed in the marketplace. Cross cultural communication is a must!
Cross-cultural communication can be difficult, inaccurate, and highly stressful. When we
are immersed in an environment where the language, attitudes, values, and behaviors are
alien to our own experience, we may suffer disorientation and frustration--an experience
known as "culture shock." This is because culture affects almost all behaviors. Culture
governs how close we stand while talking with another person. Culture governs how we
use (or avoid) eye contact. Culture governs how we express (or suppress) powerful
emotions such as joy, disapproval, and anger. Culture even governs the expression (if not
the actual experience) of love, because culture determines whether we feel free to express
love in public settings by holding hands, hugging, or kissing the person we love. Cross -
cultural communication is a must!