"With a population comprising of more than 200 ethnic groups, New Zealand is now taking overtaking some of the world's largest cities when it comes to diversity. Considered to be more culturally diverse than London and Sydney, forty percent of Auckland's population is made up of different ethnicities", Yasmin Forsythe, Deconstructing the Divide, Why Diversity matters, M2 Women.
In a recent study done by 'Super Diverse Women', an organisation dedicated to promoting the rights and achievements of women from indigenous and migrant backgrounds, that surveyed nearly 300 New Zealanders, many said they believed that while there were advantages and opportunities in being diverse, they still experienced gender and ethnic equality issues at work.
So why is developing 'Cultural Intelligence' within each one of us so important in the New Zealand context? Because in many cases people don't realise or accept that many of the decisions they make, within their organisation, are made because of their own unconscious bias. That by developing their own 'cultural intelligence' and 'culturally intelligent organisations' they will capitalise on the strength of diversity within their organisation, not fear it. They will grow to adapt and challenge behaviours that can stifle innovation and development. When the diversity within an organisation is appreciated , and employees feel respected and included, innovative ideas are seized upon, the capacity of the team is utilised, and results speak for themselves.
By placing investment in diversity, by putting diversity policies into practice, and meaningful cross-cultural training into action, you will build an environment of trust and respect. Through understanding the cross-cultural make up of your team, building personal bonds and finding ways to elicit great ideas, you will reap the rewards of a multi-cultural workplace.
Thankfully more and more companies are realising the importance of such initiatives, and those with foresight are investing in their future, rather than sending in an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff when problems arise. Be an innovator- people are your biggest investment. By showing those within your workplace that you value their perspectives, that you recognise there is more than one way to see things, or to solve problems, and that diversity is something to be celebrated and embraced in your organisation you will develop the competitive edge you need to be on top in a rapidly changing global market.