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Global performance through diversity

Pamela Young - Thursday, June 02, 2011
Strategically, achieving diversity is a good idea.

Technology closes the communications gap...but not the cultural one
Australia's distance and isolation from the rest of the world creates hurdles that undermine global integration, engagement with major trading partners and economic performance.

When you live and work in Asia or Europe you are surrounded by many other countries and cultures which have a respect and understanding of each others values and business behaviours.  Most people are multi-lingual and many have lived and worked across nearby borders.  They are experienced in doing business with other cultures and have built valuable networks and formed trusting relationships.

Relatively speaking, we are not only far from the rest of the world physically, but culturally we have a distance to travel too.  While many cultures are represented in Australia and many languages are spoken, leaders in most corners of business and government are essentially Anglo-Saxon, English speaking males born in Australia.

Greater diversity among leaders generates more global companies
To build stronger relationships with foreign trading partners and to
effectively participate in the fruits of the rapidly growing BRIC economies over the next 20 years, it makes strategic sense to invest in and commit to achieving greater diversity.  The opportunity and gains to be made are too big to ignore. 

More on BRIC countries here
- their strengths and weaknesses,
-
their exclusive economic summit in Brasilia

Building leadership teams and organisations that include and encourage promotion of people from all cultures, races and religions will help close the cultural gap and bring us closer to being a global nation with a globally prepared workforce.  Diversity as strategy would help improve international economic performance, develop a multi-lingual and multi-cultural employee base and help to attract foreign investment and skilled immigrants and appeal to Australians to return home.

Learning to manage a multi-cultural workforce can be achieved by developing cultural awareness and understanding and being more inclusive in decision-making.  Take a look at how many non-Christian festivities are celebrated in your organisation and consider the degree to which the cultural traditions of the non-Christain employees are embraced.  Most companies support time-out at Christmas and Easter, but how many acknowledge and support time-out at Ramadan, Deepavali or Chinese New Year.

I think it is time for more debate on this subject and I'd be delighted to hear your thoughts below.



 

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