Why is cultural diversity important in the workplace?


Cultural diversity is an ever-growing topic that has been becoming more widespread and central in organisations and businesses around the world. Diversity itself is a complex and layered word, it encompasses and accepts the differences and similarities shared by individuals, thus it allows for the presence of a multitude of perspectives and ideas [1]. Culture, on the other hand, is defined by the ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular people or society [2]. Recognizing the value of having a culturally diverse workplace is significant for an organisation’s success and growth as multiple studies have concluded in their research that diverse teams outperform homogenous ones by 35% [3]. Through diversifying the workspace, you automatically diversify the general perception and perspective of the organization, which ultimately allows for a multiplicity of ideas and concepts to be born. Therefore, culturally diverse workplaces are directly linked with higher innovation, creativity, and productivity, leading to a more profitable and fruitful business.

A study published in Forbes stated, “increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to more and better innovation and improved financial performance… companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation” [4]. Having a diverse work team directly increases productivity levels, as the research paper The Economic Value of Cultural Diversity: Evidence on U.S. Cities concluded. Their findings showcase an overriding positive effect on diversity in productivity: “a more multicultural urban environment makes US-born citizens more productive” (5). The benefits of creating a diverse workspace are monumental and crucial in building a new organisation or company in today’s world.

A diverse organization will out-think and out-perform a homogeneous organization every single time.

A. G. Laffey, CEO Procter & Gamble


Culture is dynamic and everchanging, and as cultural diversity is becoming an integral part of any company, organisation and start up, it is becoming central for these workspaces to adapt in order to become successful. 

It is recognised that people generally are comforted by commonality; this works similarly in workspace environments.  However, it is through diversity that people learn, grow, and evolve.  As cultural diversity is becoming an integral part of start-ups, organisations, and companies it is becoming the new standard to aspire to, the new norm.  Creating a diverse workspace enables for a varied and elevated set of knowledge to exist, which is essential in solving more complex problems.  Some researchers have even come to describe cultural diversity in organisations as the new “Darwinism”, showcasing the importance and success this has in creating a fruitfully harmonious and profitable business. [6]

[1] Melville, D. (2015). Improving your Diversity IQ (video) Retrieved July 8th, 2019, from YouTube.

[2] Riccardi, P. (2014). Cross Cultural Communication (video) Retrieved July 8th, 2019, from YouTube.

[3] Nalty, K. (2017). Diversity Makes you Smarter (video) Retrieved July 8th, 2019, from YouTube.

[4] Echo Yuan Liao, “Why You Need Cultural Intelligence (And How to Develop It)”, Forbes, March 24th, 2015, on Forbes website (accessed July 7th, 2019).

[5] Gianmarco Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, “The Economic Value of Cultural Diversity: Evidence From US Cities”, NBER Working Paper Series, no.1 (2004): 22.

[6] Mahdawi, A. (2016). The Surprising Solution to Workplace Diversity (video) Retrieved July 8th 2019, from YouTube.

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