‘Walking the talk’, Cross-cultural conversations in the workplace

‘Walking the talk’, Cross-cultural conversations in the workplace

Cultural Diversity is increasingly becoming a more explicit conversation in the work place. It will continue to grow throughout 2013 and beyond.

However, while awareness of its importance is growing, the conversation is by no means universal and for some businesses it is easier than others while in others, it doesn’t feature at all. However with an increasingly mobile globalised workforce it does need to happen at some stage in the board room with senior leadership teams and on the shop floor.

For multi-national global organisations, export/import focused trading companies and Aid organisations the conversation and the need is obvious. The more proactive organisations invest resources, precious time and training into up-skilling their staff with cultural awareness and inter-cultural communications skills. They have specific human resources policies on diversity and designate events such as a global diversity week, company-wide national cultural diversity days or single workplace celebrations that embrace the cultural diversity of their staff.

But what of smaller businesses and organisations? What can they do to increase staff members’ insight into different cultural perspectives of their colleagues, customers and work mates?

No matter the size of the business, the starting point is nearly always the same i.e. through genuine conversation, leadership and management commitment and active modelling of expected behaviours. In popular terms it’s called “Walking the talk.”

It begins at a personal level with two people talking to each other with a genuine desire to get to know the other person better. It is an engaging and curious conversation and an exploration to find a point where their interests meet, an area of common ground where they can enjoy each other’s company. It is not a sparring for position or advantage.

A genuine conversation can lead to the start of building stronger team relationships that deepen and strengthen over time and contribute to the company in the pursuit of shared business goals.

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