Inclusion and diversity are the new buzz words in the modern corporate world . Every employer vociferously emphasizes the importance of a heterogeneous workforce where talent, expertise and character are the main attributes that determine the worth of an employee, and never their ethnicity.
What is truly commendable is that companies are doing the best they can to weave cultural diversity and equality into the very ethos of their daily interactions. This task isn’t easy, since it requires people in the top management to cast aside many personal prejudices, most of which have been too ingrained in their psyche as a result of societal mindsets passed down through generations and centuries. Fortunately, the attitudes are fast changing and more and more companies today are open enough to accept that stereotypes can be misleading and that reality may not conform to a set of fixed beliefs and impressions.
The most obvious stereotype to be busted in recent years is that it is impossible for immigrants to possess anything but a working knowledge of the English language. It is extremely reassuring to notice that inclusive and diverse workplaces display an enhanced awareness about the external world beyond one’s own limited sphere.
Employers in the modern age are more in tune with international trends and acknowledge that having a non native English accent (American/Canadian, British, Australian…etc) does not affect one’s grammar and vocabulary and is not an indication of one’s ability to write and/or express themselves in English. It is common knowledge today that many of the top awards for English writing have been bagged by non-native speakers of English (Kiran Desai, Aravind Adiga, Arundhati Roy, Ben Okri – winners of the Booker Prize are just a few examples) and that a command over the English language is no longer a prerogative of individuals only from English speaking countries. It is heartening as an immigrant to work for companies that display the spirit of multiculturalism at its best.
What I love about diverse workplaces is that they are open to dissimilarities in cultural norms – where differences are perceived as strengths and not aberrations. They are all about celebrating what distinguishes people rather than trying to fit everyone into rigid, inflexible molds just because they have, up until now, been the only benchmarks considered to be of any value.
Our constantly changing world is giving way to constantly changing realities. Inclusion and diversity, in their truest sense means embracing these new realities by rising above outdated preconceptions. It means dissociating ability and talent from race, origin and appearance by obliterating the biases hidden within the deepest recesses of our subconscious minds. It means cultivating a discerning intellect that is as high on the emotional and human quotient as it is on skills and expertise.
As businesses develop the newest strategies to outpace one another, companies that whole-heartedly join in this positive wave of change will be the ones to contribute with a flourish to furthering the true spirit of globalization. In return they will reap the rich benefits of having at their disposal, a diverse pool of human resources from every corner of the world, representing the collective talent of humanity as a whole.