We all know two heads are better than one. But what happens when these two minds are the product of completely different countries, backgrounds and cultural upbringings? If the research is anything to go by, diversity helps a company to perform even better. A report by McKinsey titled Diversity Matters uncovered that ethnically diverse organisations are 35 percent more likely to financially outperform those with low diversity.
In honour of the opening of the Olympic Games in Brazil, Experteer has taken a closer look at the benefits of working in an ethnically diverse and international workplace.
Insights and creativity
An international environment creates unique opportunities for creativity and insights. An eclectic mix of personalities and backgrounds help foster a rich cultural experience for all members of your team. Think about it: if everyone in your office were from the same town, had the same life experiences and received the same education, that would lead to a very stale working environment indeed. By doing the opposite, and having a team of people who originate from around the world, you bring together a multitude of viewpoints. This creates an ideal breeding ground for creativity and leads to insights that would never have come to light without the benefit of a wide range of different perspectives.
Opportunity to learn about cultures and customs
What better way to learn about other cultures and customs than from your international team? Having a vibrant and thriving international team creates a melting pot in which you and and your colleagues can learn from one another. Learning about other cultures and customs increases your cultural awareness and opens your mind to perspectives and realities outside your own experiences. Global experience is one of the most sought-after skills in a senior executive, and by exposing yourself and the rest of your team to an international way of thinking, you’re increasing your market value and your capacity to empathize in a diverse team, the kind that today’s most popular companies are working to cultivate.
Exposure to languages
Ever wanted to learn another language? A great place to start is by asking your team member from China how to say greetings and pleasantries in Mandarin, for example. Even if you do not take it any further than that, being exposed to other languages on a daily basis makes it easier to pick up words and phrases because you are able to repeat them often. Knowing a second language will not only help your career, it has health benefits too. Furthermore, speaking a second language improves your memory and attention span.
Having team members from different cultural backgrounds is exactly what is called for when it comes to original thinking. Hold regular team meetings to get everyone together to discuss certain issues and challenges facing your business and be open to the suggestions that arise. There is a very good chance that your international team will have ideas and points of view that you had not yet considered. A diverse pool of employees will also offer unique responses to the unpredictable challenges and opportunities that come up in business.
Attract top talent
Committing to hiring an international team opens your organisation up to more opportunities. Harnessing top talent from around the world will contribute greatly to your organisation’s success. By creating an innovative and international environment within your organisation you will position your company as an employer of choice. According to McKinsey’s report, companies with diverse workplaces are better situated to attract top talent, improve customer orientation, enhance employee satisfaction and boost decision making.
Having an international workplace brings with it many positive benefits, from insights and creativity and original thinking to attracting top talent and fostering a positive reputation. Despite this, it is clear that there is still a long way to go when it comes to having executive teams that reflect the demographic composition of their country’s workforce. McKinsey compared the United States, the United Kingdom and Brazil and found that 78 percent of UK companies have an executive team which fails to reflect the demographic diversity of the country. In Brazil this number is even higher, at 91 percent and in the US, 97 percent of companies have senior-leadership teams that do not accurately represent the demographic composition of the country’s workforce.