The Resource Blog: Diversity and Inclusion Resources

Managing Diversity: 10 Steps To Multicultural Team Success

Thursday, April 11, 2019   (0 Comments)
Share |

SHRM San Diego is excited to provide Diversity & Inclusion resources to our HRcommunity.


Below you will find articles, toolkits, and educational videos to help guide you in creating these important initiatives.


Managing Diversity: 10 Steps To Multicultural Team Success 

By: Claude Koehl, Founder, Intercultural Services

"Without the necessary organizational framework, intercultural training, and support,
diverse teams will have difficulties becoming cohesive, innovative, and productive units.

In the mobile and global world of today, a demographically diverse workforce has become the norm for business large and small. A diverse and inclusive workforce can help drive the creation and execution of new products, services, and business processes (Forbes Insights, “Global Diversity and Inclusion: Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce,” 2011). Investing in workforce diversity contributes to enhanced economic and social performance, better adaptation to demographic and organizational changes, and compliance with the law (European Union, “Diversity within small and medium-sized enterprises best practices and approaches for moving ahead,” Publications Office of the European Union, 2015). In this article, I will use the term, “diverse workforce” interchangeably with “multicultural workforce” as we are ultimately referring to factors (ethnicity, religion, gender, etc.), which are all elements of culture. Commonly, diversity is evaluated at the organizational level where “numbers can distract from the fact that an increase in representation doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in diversity” (Blanche, A., Atlassian: “Focus on teams to boost diversity,” USA Today, 2016). For example, if the percentage of newly hired women has increased during the year, yet all newly hired women work in the same department, this increase only translates to growing department diversity, not company diversity.

To truly reap the benefits of a diverse workforce, we need to promote and evaluate diversity at the team level. Multicultural teams offer a number of advantages, including better adaptability and higher innovation potential, since knowledge of different product markets increases the potential for a broader service range and culturally more sensitive customer service (Brett, J. & Behfar, K., Kern, M. C., “Managing Multicultural Teams,” Harvard Business Review, 2006). But even in multicultural teams, innovation and creativity potential do not translate magically into better performance. Not least because “it is inevitable to have conflict when you bring people from different cultural backgrounds together. It’s about how you manage the conflict. A lot of times, managers try to put together a multicultural workplace without trying to integrate people better,” as Roy Y.J Chua succinctly states (Chua, R.Y.J., “Cultural disharmony undermines workplace creativity,” HBS Working Knowledge, Harvard Business School, 2013). Hence, for an organization to profit from the “diversity of thought” of its diverse workforce the following factors must come together:

• Commitment to the diversity development process by top management and all employees
• Diversity promoting and supporting companywide structures and processes
• Development and training of the workforce’s cross-cultural (leadership) competencies
and conflict management skills"

Please click here to read the full article.

San Diego Society of Human Resource Management, Chapter 130
325 W. Washington Street #2355  |  San Diego, CA 92103  
(866) 632-1492 •
Listen to San Diego SHRM on the Radio