Businesses Must Respect Cultural Diversity

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Millions of expats are criss-crossing the world as part of a mobile, global workforce, according to new research.

More than 230 million people switched countries in a bid to improve their lifestyles and earn more money in 2013, according to the study by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation.

Most are moving from poorer nations to richer countries in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), such as the USA, Britain, Germany and the United Arab Emirates.

The report discusses key trends for business leaders and recommends ways they need to adapt to changes in their workforces.

Emerging economies

The main points include:

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  • Political, economic and social ties between countries are becoming stronger and events in one country can disrupt businesses around the world – sanctions against Russia over annexation of The Crimea are given as an example
  • More educated and skilled workers from emerging economies are looking for better paid jobs and are prepared to travel to earn more money and improve their lifestyle
  • Businesses need to have a better understanding of cultural diversity and need to learn how to benefit from local customs. The report argues that multicultural and diverse workforces spark innovation because people look at resolving problems from different viewpoints
  • Recruiting from outside national borders gives a business access to people capable of bringing different experience and perspective to an organisation
  • Businesses need to take on more corporate responsibility, which will lead to a better reputation and the ability to recruit and retain better talent. This includes protecting the rights of employees

The report, Engaging and Integrating a Global Workforce, explains that embracing cultural diversity has a massive impact on employees.

Diverse backgrounds

“The modern workforce comes from diverse backgrounds,” says the report.

“People from varied backgrounds are motivated by different incentives and react differently to management and communication styles. This poses a challenge to business as well as human resource leaders across organisations and geographies globally.    

“Businesses need to prepare for the future by developing new management styles that recognise the importance of cultural diversity.”

The study also recommends managers need to look beyond CVs to identify workers with special skills and talents, while a better understanding of local laws and customs will integrate a business into the community.

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