What do businesses need to do to become culturally competent?
What’s really important here is how the company communicates and works across geographies and culture. In this current virtual working this is even more critical.
– How teams engage globally is firstly down to respecting timezones, understanding cultural communication barriers, and finding ways to ensure that teams feel that they are equally valued and their voice matters
– Encourage sensitivity to local customs, etiquette and respecting time (for example the Middle East weekend starts on a Friday; or different local and religious holidays when scheduling team meetings)
– Encourage discussion, active listening and engaging in dialogue that broaden’s the team’s understanding of different perspectives, experiences and ideas.
The critical factor here is respect and communication – and role modelling needs to come from top level leadership. For example, rotating all employee announcements and meetings to allow for different timezones to participate, recording critical meetings for those timezones that cannot attend, and managing schedules, communications and deliverables aligned to the global work week. A company can be global and not culturally competent until it understands how to interact and communicate with people from different racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, encouraging diverse teams and partnerships.
What’s the 1 or 2 crucial advices to reduce workplace bias?
There are a couple of key steps that will help an organisation reduce/eliminate bias especially in decision making:
- Training/Awareness – education is critical to help employees understand first what bias is, where it exists and how to recognise bias in both self and others. The key here is this is not a ‘one and done’ training. This should be a series of learning opportunities, discussions and dialogues to help employees identify and address bias in the workplace in all employment lifecycle phases.
- Another critical step that I feel passionate about here is to ensure that decision making is made with diverse perspectives. Hiring decisions, promotions, organisation change should be made with consideration of decision makers who can bring diverse perspectives. A diverse panel in a hiring process should consist of 2-3 people with different diverse attributes. This helps any potential bias from one decision maker to be challenged, it creates increased objectivity and equity in decision making when it comes to people and people related employment matters.