Workplaces where there is a clear recognition of the specific benefits of diversity - that are inclusive and respectful of people’s differences (race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, geographic background, education, economic background and thinking and communication styles, SIT, n.d.) - have been shown to have higher levels of employee satisfaction and retain employees, as well as being innovative and more able to meet their clients’ needs. However, teams in these organisations need to be effectively managed to ensure good communication and high levels of trust (HCS, n.d.), and help address any tensions that arise.
Coaching can be a valuable tool to help make the most of diversity, in particular because it takes into account a person’s “life experiences, intercultural relationships, ... and work experience” (Australian Multicultural Foundation, 2010, p. 105) - all of which are important for effective diversity management.
Coaching can help managers and their teams develop the knowledge, skills, strategies, attitudes, and practices for communicating successfully in diverse work environments, in particular because it can facilitate every employee to:
Develop cultural self-awareness in part through becoming aware of their own biases (Australian Multicultural Foundation, 2010).
Build key concepts and frameworks for managing and working with diversity.
Use approaches such as active listening, paraphrasing to check understanding, transparency of purpose, interpreting the interlocutor’s responses, and being aware of different interpretations of terms - to help with sensitive but clear communication and collaboration.
Become aware of their own conscious and unconscious biases and assumptions.
Value differences and recognise colleagues’ strengths.
Grow their ability to collaborate across cultures (Australian Multicultural Foundation, 2010).
As such, coaching can help teams build positive working relationships, in part by helping people avoid miscommunication based on assumptions and differences.
Associated benefits for the companies who do business in a wide range of countries can include the recruitment of talented people from around the globe, growth of efficacious global executives, an organisational culture that can cope with international mergers and acquisitions, and staff who are possible candidates for expatriate postings.
Image: A row of rainbow. CC ( BY NC ND ) licensed Flickr image by Catface27; https://flic.kr/p/pTZgC6
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