The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Jessica Feltrin '23 RGLP Reflection: How Cultural Diversity Benefits Organizations

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An individual’s culture is what sets them apart; it’s what has nurtured and shaped their beliefs, values, perspectives, ideas and many other facets of their identity. A good leader does not view culture as an obstacle but rather as a benefit to their organization. In fact, they will actively seek people of diverse cultures specifically because of these differences in identity. The way they see it, cultural diversity is necessary to bringing a variety of viewpoints to the table––something that is crucial when working towards goals that benefit many, not just a few. As a result, people of diverse cultures will feel seen and represented by the organization and are more likely to engage with it by sharing their skills and points of view. This in turn benefits the organization itself; by learning from each other’s range of talent, expertise, and perspectives, the organization can maximize its skillset and become more relevant, efficient, and successful. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, it is crucial for organizations to seek cultural diversity if they want to survive the global market or simply have the greatest impact.

Now, if a good leader wants to attract cultural diversity to its organization, they must first create a stable environment for respectful dialogue. Without this, the organization lends itself to miscommunication and friction between people of different cultures. To avoid this, a good leader will need to encourage respect by urging its members to exercise good listening skills and practice empathy. In addition to this, it’s a good idea to offer diversity training so that organization members can learn not just about the existence of other cultures and perspectives, but also to become more self-aware about how culture has influenced their own beliefs, values, and biases. For example, one way of working on self-awareness is by having organization members take quizzes to learn about their intercultural communication and conflict styles and then using their results to find ways to ease friction when communicating with someone of a different cultural background. By working on these basic tools, the organization can increase its cultural competency, improve each member’s cultural dexterity and adaptability, and foster effective and respectful dialogue.

Written by Jessica Feltrin, a member of the Winter 2021 Cohort of the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program

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