Why is Cultural Awareness Important In The Workplace?

Being culturally aware can help a business create a unique culture that benefits from its diverse workforce while also benefiting the employees within the company. This article will discuss what cultural awareness is, explore its importance in the workplace, and detail how to create a culturally aware workplace.

What Does Cultural Awareness Mean?

Cultural awareness is the ability of a person, team, or organisation to recognise and cherish cultural differences and interact with people from different cultures successfully.  The National Centre for Cultural Competence defines cultural awareness in two ways– first, it pertains to understanding, recognising, and appreciating similarities and differences between different cultures. Second, it involves seeing how a person’s culture affects their behaviours. To be competitive in a diverse work environment and thrive in a global world, you must understand and appreciate different cultures. 

For instance, if you’re an Australian business owner and want to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, you should know about their culture. Cultural awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures is vital in the workplace because it ensures respect is observed throughout all communication and collaboration. 

Building a productive and inclusive environment becomes easier when you’re culturally aware, so having an understanding of other cultures is vital because it helps us adapt and adjust how we interact with others.

Why Does Cultural Awareness in the Workplace Matter?

Cultural awareness and diversity is important in the workplace because it allows employees to communicate effectively with each other, build stronger relationships, and improve employee morale and engagement. Cultural awareness also encourages employees to be more authentic without the pressure to hide their cultural identity.

There is an immense impact from culture awareness in the workplace for employees–it shows potential candidates that it values cultural diversity and welcomes people from all backgrounds. Additionally, when team members are more culturally sensitive, they’re likely to make educated decisions by considering different perspectives.

Further, employees who feel that other workers respect and value their culture are satisfied and more engaged in their job. Knowing that other team members value and appreciate their culture or are trying to get to know them can build stronger workplace relationships. In addition, this can create a unifying business culture where every employee feels like they’re working towards a common goal, which can enhance employee performance and productivity, encouraging them to go the extra mile.

How to Build a Culturally Aware Workplace 

Knowing and respecting the different cultures present in a workplace can help your staff become more sensitive towards each other. While there are many ways to improve cultural awareness in the workforce, the following measures could be helpful:

  • Get to know other employees–the easiest way to find out about other employees and their cultures is to ask them respectfully. Team members can ask each other if there are ways they can support them in expressing their culture, and employees can leverage this opportunity to know more about those they work with so they can explore cultural differences and similarities. 
  • Organise sensitivity training–sensitivity and diversity awareness training can help employees work alongside those different from them. It can foster cultural sensitivity by allowing the workforce to learn about behaviours and attitudes others may find harmful or offensive, and it can train workers on how to communicate effectively with others and respect cultural differences. 
  • Build a safe cultural environment where Indigenous employees can speak and be heard and affirmed professionally.
  • Acknowledge that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may have specific skill sets that non-Indigenous employees lack, and will be a highly valuable addition to your company.

Final Thoughts

Cultural awareness fosters effective communication and improves employee morale and performance. Therefore, every organisation should prioritise improving cultural awareness. A more culturally diverse and inclusive environment allows employees to collaborate and interact more easily, effectively, and respectfully.

Find out how Evolve can help you create a more culturally competent workplace.

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