On Harmony Day Alma Besserdin came by the intelliHR offices to present for the Australian Human Resources Institute’s Diversity and Inclusion Network. By 2015 the Australian population size will grow to 40 million and this will primarily be due to immigration. Alma spoke on the need for inclusive action in the workplace as globalisation is transforming the modern workforce. Through explaining culture and its effects on individual perceptions, Alma shows how divisions can occur due to cultural ignorance. She then goes through what is required to have workplace that integrates different perspective and is respective to all cultures.
Culture is complex and evolving. Culture is the way we do things, how we interact in the world and what behaviours we find acceptable. It often exists in what is left unsaid rather what we hear. Alma explains that people don’t perceive the world as it is but rather how they are. Unconscious bias impacts everything we see, hear and perceive. This is culture. However, Alma points out that culture is fluid, how you were raised and what has influenced your life doesn’t impact the trajectory of your future.
There is strength in cultural diversity, and this is carried across in the workplace. Decision making and problem solving can be improved by employees approaching the issue from differing perspectives. This provides a holistic approach rather than a fragmented approach from a group of people with the same cultural background.
Alma establishes that culture impact everything from how we approach problems to the language we use to discuss issues. This can often induce misunderstandings if both parties don’t have a good intercultural awareness.
Alma touches on various anecdotes to emphasise how differences in culture can lead to awkwardness and misunderstanding. Workplaces can only be enhanced by diversity when all parties are working together to learn from one another. She describes integration as a journey from two sides, both parties must be open to learn from one another and recognise that everyone needs to adjust a little for integration. Organisations must be diligent in creating environments where employees feel comfortable expressing themselves in a productive and open way. Diversity is more than people coming together from different background and culture, it is their ability to work together and integrate.
To end her presentation she left with some universal facts to bring it back to the crux of the issue. We are all humans, don’t let humanity be taken out of the issue. Communicate with patience and kindness, there have been times when everyone wishes a manager or peer could have been more patient with them. Show this patience to others. Finally, be open minded, accept that you may not always have all the pieces to complete the puzzle and that others may be able to help out where you cannot.
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