Cultural Diversity in the Workplace: 7 Ways to Promote It

December 11, 2023
11 mins

Cultural diversity in the workplace may not always seem like a top priority, but it's an essential part of being human. 

Our world is a mix of different people, each bringing their unique skills, experiences, and viewpoints to the table. 

At work, embracing cultural diversity means not only having employees from various backgrounds but also valuing and supporting their differences. 

Research from McKinsey has found that companies with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds are 35% more likely to achieve better returns.

However, implementing cultural diversity in the workplace can be challenging. But not all of us make an effort to develop Cultural Diversity in the workplace. 

While many companies have Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs, as they should, not all invest in hiring a diverse workforce or truly understand the benefits it brings.

This guide aims to provide the top 7 tips for managers, business leaders, and employers who want to foster cultural diversity in the workplace.

Understanding Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

Cultural diversity in the workplace means having people from various backgrounds working together. It's about having employees who come from different countries, cultures, religions, and ages.

After remote work became the new norm, we do see quite a lot of diverse teams. But it's not just about having a mix of people; it's also about respecting and appreciating these differences. It means creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere where everyone feels valued and can share their unique ideas.

Having cultural diversity in the workplace can be really useful for a company. It brings fresh ideas and different ways of solving problems. It also helps a company understand and serve customers from all over the world.

What Are The Types of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace?

Cultural diversity in the workplace can manifest in various ways. Sharing some common types:

1. Ethnic and Racial Diversity

This includes employees from various ethnic and racial backgrounds, such as Asian, African, Hispanic, Caucasian, and more.

2. Nationality

People from different countries and regions bring their unique cultural perspectives, customs, and traditions to the workplace.

3. Religious Diversity

Employees may follow different religions or belief systems, influencing their values, practices, and holidays observed.

4. Language Diversity

A diverse workforce may speak multiple languages, which can impact communication and cross-cultural understanding.

5. Gender Diversity

This relates to the balance of men and women in the workplace and the promotion of equal opportunities for all genders.

6. Generational Diversity

Different age groups, such as Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z, have distinct values, communication styles, and work preferences.

7. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Embracing LGBTQ+ individuals fosters inclusivity and acceptance of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations.

8. Disability Diversity

This includes individuals with varying physical and mental abilities, requiring accommodations and support for equal participation in the workplace.

9. Socioeconomic Diversity

Employees may come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, impacting their life experiences, perspectives, and financial situations.

10. Cultural Background

Beyond ethnicity and nationality, cultural diversity in the workplace also considers factors like customs, traditions, food, and art, which can influence the workplace environment and interactions.

11. Educational Diversity

Employees may have diverse educational backgrounds, including different degrees, certifications, or vocational training, affecting their skills and expertise.

12. Work Experience Diversity

Varied career histories and work experiences contribute to different skill sets and problem-solving approaches among employees.

Recognizing and embracing these types of cultural diversity in the workplace is essential for creating an inclusive and equitable environment where all employees can thrive, contribute, and feel valued.

Why is it Important to Have Cultural Diversity in the Workplace?

Well, there are several reasons but here are the convincing ones:

  • Enhanced Creativity and Innovation

  • Improved Decision-Making

  • Better Understanding of Diverse Markets

  • Increased Employee Engagement

  • Legal and Ethical Considerations

  • Better Employer Branding

7 Ways to Promote Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

1. Policies

Inclusive policies are the foundation of a workplace that values cultural diversity. They ensure that company rules and procedures consider the needs and differences of all employees, fostering a fair and equitable environment.

How to practice it:

-Policy Review

Regularly review your policies and procedures to identify any potential biases or barriers related to cultural diversity in the workplace. Focus on areas such as recruitment, promotions, and employee benefits.

-Flexibility for Religious Observances

You recognize the importance of religious diversity and provide flexible work hours or time off for employees to observe their religious practices and holidays.

-Inclusive Language

Promote the use of inclusive language in all official communications and documents. This ensures that terminology is respectful and considers diverse backgrounds.

-Anti-Discrimination Measures

Clear policies against discrimination and harassment based on any cultural or demographic factor are in place. Encourage employees to report any incidents and establish a fair investigation process.

-Training and Awareness

Train employees on the company's inclusive policies, ensuring they understand their rights and responsibilities. Managers should undergo training on how to implement these policies effectively too.

-Diversity Goals

Set diversity goals and track progress regularly. Use metrics to evaluate the impact of their policies and make necessary adjustments.

By implementing inclusive policies, you ensure that all employees are treated fairly and respectfully. This promotes a workplace where diversity is not just acknowledged but actively supported. This creates a fairer environment for everyone.

2. Cultural Awareness Training

Cultural awareness training is essential for fostering a workplace environment where employees understand, respect, and appreciate each other's diverse backgrounds. It helps reduce stereotypes, biases, and misunderstandings.

How to practice it:

Suppose you want to ensure that your employees are culturally aware and sensitive. Here's how you can implement cultural awareness training:

-Regular Workshops

You can organize regular workshops and training sessions on cultural awareness, sensitivity, and unconscious bias. These sessions are conducted by experts and are designed to be interactive and engaging.

-Diverse Perspectives

The training encourages employees to share their own cultural experiences and learn from each other. This exchange of ideas helps build empathy and understanding among team members.

-Real-life Scenarios

The training includes real-life scenarios that illustrate how cultural differences can impact workplace interactions. Employees learn strategies to navigate these situations effectively.

-Measuring Progress

Periodically evaluate the effectiveness of the training by surveying employees. Use feedback to make improvements and adjustments to the training program.

By implementing cultural awareness training, you ensure that employees are equipped with the knowledge and skills to work effectively in a diverse environment. This not only promotes a more inclusive workplace but also enhances teamwork, communication, and overall employee satisfaction.

3. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs, are voluntary associations of employees who come together based on shared characteristics or experiences. They play a vital role in promoting cultural diversity by fostering a sense of belonging. And also providing a platform for celebrating different cultures within the workplace.

How to practice it:

-Formation of ERGs

You encourage the creation of ERGs, such as "Cultural Connections," "Pride Alliance," or "Women in Leadership." These groups are open to all employees who share an interest or affiliation, regardless of their cultural background.

-Support and Resources

The company provides ERGs with resources, funding, and meeting space. Also, designate a liaison from the leadership team to offer guidance and ensure alignment with the company's goals.

-Events and Activities

ERGs organize events and activities that celebrate different cultures, raise awareness, and promote inclusion. These can include cultural festivals, awareness campaigns, or guest speaker sessions.

-Professional Development

ERGs often offer opportunities for skill-building and career development. For example, "Women in Leadership" might host workshops on leadership skills or networking.

-Open Involvement

Participation in ERGs is open to all employees, not just those who share the affinity. This encourages cross-cultural learning and builds bridges between different groups.

By fostering Employee Resource Groups like these, you not only promote cultural diversity. You also strengthen your employees' sense of community, understanding, and shared purpose.

4. Diverse Hiring Panels

Having a diverse group of people on interview panels helps reduce unconscious bias during hiring. Additionally, it encourages a wider range of candidates to apply.

How to practice it:

Consider your company wants to hire a new marketing manager. Traditionally, your interviews will be conducted by the HR manager and the current marketing director. To promote cultural diversity, you can make these changes:

-Diverse Interview Panels

Instead of just the HR manager and marketing director, include team members from various backgrounds. For instance, the panel might have the HR manager, a marketing team member, and someone from the company's diversity and inclusion group.


Before the interviews, panel members get training on recognizing and reducing unconscious bias. They learn to focus on a candidate's skills and potential contributions rather than their background.

-New Evaluation Criteria

The panel updates its criteria to emphasize a candidate's qualifications and their potential to bring diverse perspectives to the team. They also change interview questions to focus on how the candidate can enrich the company's culture.

-Scoring and Consensus

After each interview, panel members give their scores based on the new criteria. Then, they discuss their assessments and decide together which candidate is the best fit, taking cultural diversity into account.

By using diverse hiring panels, your company not only widens its choice of candidates but actively looks for individuals who can bring different viewpoints and experiences to improve the company's culture and performance. This approach makes the hiring process fairer and more inclusive.

5. Revise Interview Questions

Revising interview questions is a crucial step toward promoting cultural diversity in the workplace. It shifts the focus from seeking candidates who merely fit into the existing culture to those who can enrich it with fresh perspectives.

How to practice it:

Imagine your company is hiring a new software developer. Traditionally, your interview questions include, "Do you think you would fit in with our team's culture?" To promote cultural diversity in the workplace, you can make the following changes:

-"Culture Add" Questions

Instead of asking about ‘culture fit’, you pose "culture add" questions like, "Can you share an experience where your unique background or perspective led to a creative solution in a team project?" This invites candidates to highlight how their differences can benefit the company.

-Skill and Experience Assessment

Focus more on assessing the candidate's technical skills and experience relevant to the job. The interview questions are designed to explore a candidate's qualifications rather than their cultural background.

-Diversity Awareness

Interviewers are trained to be aware of their biases and to avoid making assumptions based on a candidate's cultural background. They prioritize evaluating candidates based on their abilities and potential contributions.

By revising your interview questions in this way, you ensure that you are not just seeking employees who fit your existing culture. But are actively looking for individuals who can bring new ideas and perspectives to enhance cultural diversity in the workplace. This approach promotes a fairer and more inclusive hiring process.

6. Potluck

Potluck gatherings are a fun and engaging way to celebrate cultural diversity in the workplace. They provide an opportunity for employees to share their cultural backgrounds through the universal language of food.

How to practice it:

-Scheduled Events

Schedule potluck events on a quarterly basis or for special occasions, such as cultural holidays or team milestones.

-Diverse Contributions

Encourage employees to bring dishes from their own cultural backgrounds to share with colleagues. This can include traditional recipes, family favorites, or dishes that have personal significance.


Ensure that the potluck events are open to all employees, regardless of their culinary skills or cultural affiliations. It's about participation and sharing, not competition.

-Sharing Stories

During the potluck, urge employees to share stories about the dishes they've brought, explaining their cultural significance or personal connections. This sparks conversations and deeper connections among coworkers.

-Creative Themes

Occasionally, have themed potlucks, where employees can get creative with dishes that align with a specific cultural theme or region.

By organizing potlucks, you can create a warm and inclusive atmosphere where employees can bond over food, and learn about each other's cultures. They’ll start appreciating the richness of diversity.

7. Cultural Celebrations

Cultural celebrations in the workplace provide a platform for employees to showcase and embrace their diverse backgrounds. These events promote cultural understanding, appreciation, and unity among colleagues.

How to practice it:

-Regular Events

Schedule cultural celebrations throughout the year, highlighting various cultures, traditions, and holidays. For instance, you may host Diwali festivities, but also Lunar New Year celebrations, or Hispanic Heritage Month events.

-Employee Involvement

Encourage employees to participate actively in planning and organizing these events. This involvement not only empowers employees but also ensures that celebrations are authentic and inclusive.

-Cross-Cultural Learning

During cultural celebrations, employees have the opportunity to learn about different traditions, customs, food, music, and art. This broadens their cultural awareness and enriches their understanding of colleagues' backgrounds.

-Inclusive Decorations

Adorned the office with decorations and represent the culture being celebrated. This creates a visually immersive experience for everyone.

-Cultural Performances

Some celebrations feature cultural performances, such as traditional dances, music, or storytelling. This allows employees to showcase their talents and cultural heritage.

By hosting cultural celebrations, you create an inclusive and vibrant workplace that encourages employees to share and appreciate the diversity of cultures within the organization. These events foster a sense of belonging, respect, and unity, ultimately enriching the workplace environment.

Final Note

In a diverse workplace, we're not just colleagues; we're a blend of experiences and perspectives. A little effort can create a dynamic, enriching environment. Embrace cultural diversity in the workplace, and watch your company thrive.

Bigfish Editorial Team

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