World Day for Cultural Diversity

05/18/2017 01:13 pm ET Updated May 24, 2017
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As the dynamic power of globalization transforms industries and businesses worldwide, an increasing number of organizations continue to note how diversity contributes value in the workplace. A 2016 study by Diversityinc reported that although the 50 most diverse companies in the U.S. made up just 7 percent of Fortune 500 companies, they accounted for 22% of its total revenue.

Across the pond, European countries are taking notice of how diversity “brings fresh ideas and approaches” and “contributes to the performance and profitability” of European businesses. In 2004, 33 companies in France took a pioneering step towards creating more inclusive workplaces by initiating and signing the Diversity Charter to improve the degree to which their workforce reflects the diversity of French society. Since then, fifteen European countries have adopted similar initiatives to promote intercultural dialogue, collaboration, and inclusion.

In honor of World Day for Cultural Diversity, we are sharing a chart and short summary of how the European Diversity Charter adoptees are taking steps toward more inclusive and intercultural workplaces:

Denmark: ISS Denmark developed a tutorial to help business identify and integrate diversity management strategies, an initiative funded by the Council of Europe’s Intercultural Cities Programme. This guide helps company leaders realize the potential of their multicultural workforce by implementing methods that capitalize on a range of ideas, experiences, and perspectives.

Estonia: Along with their 2012 Diversity Charter, Estonia developed a “Friendly employer” toolkit promoting a “workplace that is inclusive, tolerant, and respects the values of diversity.” The toolkit, published on Diversity Day on April 13 2016, prompted a series of trainings, seminars, and workshops on diversity management and intercultural collaboration.

Luxembourg: In 2016, the Luxembourg Diversity Charter project leader developed the (Handi)Cap Emploi project to make the labor market accessible to those with disabilities. The Minister for Family and Integration asserted that information, awareness, and activism “have to be multiplied,” and that “recruiting a person with a disability can be a source of innovation and creativity.” The project provides companies with resources on adapting to a diverse workforce and accommodating physical impairments.

Poland: Among the top priorities for Polish organizations committed to diversity is urban development. On May 24, 2016, Poland’s third National Diversity Day, the Responsible Business Forum hosted a discussion on the importance of regional employers in creating a welcoming workplace for employees of all backgrounds. Speakers shared ways to ensure open communication between colleagues and employers, emphasizing diversity is “an integral and indispensable element” of a functioning society.

Spain: In 2016, the Fundacion Diversidad organized the campaign “Bet on Innovation by means of Diversity Management,” which led to 6 new signatories and 16 organizations renewing their commitment to the national Diversity Charter. Mr. Lorenzo di Pietro, leader of the campaign and Executive Director of Enterprise and Innovation for Barcelona Activa, explains that employees identify with one another “because we defend the same values.”

These innovative measures are invaluable contributions to a welcoming professional atmosphere, allowing organizations and employees to reap the numerous benefits of cultural diversity. Not only do new strategies and fresh approaches boost performance and profit, workplace diversity opens individuals to a limitless spectrum of perspectives, beliefs, and ideas. From our multicultural company to you and yours, may this World Day for Cultural Diversity be informative and enriching!

Sharon Schweitzer
Sharon Schweitzer

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

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