How do you achieve a state of inclusion in an organization that spans dozens of countries, a variety of generational cohorts and a plethora of local and regional workplace norms? Knowing and including teammates, managers, vendors and customers is all the more complicated for professionals operating in a global environment. And, for global HR professionals who grapple with “VUCA”—the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity that marks today’s global workplace—solving the “inclusion equation” is even harder.
Beyond this, perceptions of diversity and inclusion vary from country to country and region to region. This makes the role of a global HR professional complex, especially when insights and definitions of diversity are often not available outside the local language, if available at all. Diversity in a country like Japan, which is ethnically quite homogeneous, often has more to do with gender and generation than anything else, while the conversation in the US has always been around race and gender, with an increasing focus on dimensions like socioeconomics, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Put simply, in addition to the range of diverse values and preferences across cultures, different countries may have different understandings of the concept of diversity in and of itself! In other words, multinationals can’t solve the inclusion equation without incorporating the global factor.
What is Global Inclusion?
From our perspective at CultureWizard, “Global Inclusion” describes the attitudes and behaviors of individuals spread across the globe that lead to an environment where professionals of diverse backgrounds and perspectives feel valued, welcomed and appreciated. This means that promoting inclusion on a global level requires your workforce to develop a skillset above and beyond the local or domestic context.
Such a globally inclusive environment leads to higher levels of engagement, where global team members, managers and leaders are their authentic selves, openly share their ideas and contribute at their highest level. The benefits of inclusion in a global environment align with the benefits we discuss in a domestic or local context, but achieving inclusion on a global scale is akin to conducting a global orchestra with hundreds if not thousands of players (and behind the scenes advocates).
What’s so different about inclusion in a global context? Diversity on a global scale includes all the ways in which humans can be different, which is a long list of items that make the work of D&I practitioners rather daunting: ethnicity, race, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, generation, thinking styles, language abilities, personality types, different skillsets, socioeconomic status—and more!
Where Does Global Diversity and Inclusion Start? With You.
Self-awareness is key to inclusion because it paves the way to appreciating how we are all individuals, despite larger cultural patterning that may inform our approach to work and life in general.
Also key is getting more familiar with certain personality traits that are predictive of your ability to work inclusively in a global or multicultural environment, such as:
· Emotional Awareness
· Social Dexterity
Ultimately, these traits impact your ability to adjust and flex your behavior. For example, curiosity is widely recognized as an all-important trait for global professionals.The desire to ask questions and learn from your global colleagues leads you to insights otherwise unavailable, which in turn lead you to success. Being open to difference, and being able to suspend judgment on diverse behaviors, also paves the way to greater understanding, more inclusion and a stronger business.
Reap the Benefits of Diversity by Building Strong, Inclusive Relationships
Building trust and forming connections across differences forms the foundation for inclusion and high-quality collaboration. Relationships with people from diverse cultural backgrounds facilitate valuable learning about what works and what doesn’t—critical insights that make it easier to act inclusively.
However, building trust across diverse relationship-building styles is a difficult challenge, so it often stifles that learning process. It’s important for learning and development professionals to up skill their organizations appropriately. All the same, we know that increased comfort with diverse work styles stems from positive intercultural relationships. Cross-cultural mentoring programs are one way to expose individuals to diversity without having to send them on costly international assignments or business trips.
Our Global Mindset Index Study™ presents a business case for organizations to promote intercultural competency as a means to achieve their inclusion goals. In fact, 80% of study respondents reported that an investment in continuous intercultural skill development was critical to developing inclusive behavior.
How might you invest in the up skilling of your workforce? Contact us to start a conversation.