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What’s a multicultural and diverse team?

Read this article to find out what a multicultural team is, and what should you consider when managing one.
holding hands
© CIPD

According to Hofstede et al. (1997), a multicultural team is a team whose members have different cultural backgrounds.

Most evident in that they have spent their formative years in different countries and thus have learned different values, demeanors, and languages (Humbrick et al., 1998).

Another definition of a multicultural workplace is where employees have a variety of backgrounds. This includes not only race, gender, ethnicity, and religion but also attributes such as disability, age, and education.

When thinking about multicultural teams, we are considering everyone in the team and take into account heritage, background, culture, and different languages spoken. As a manager, this includes you as well.

You may find there are other words that are also used to describe multicultural teams, such as:

  • Multiethnic
  • Multinational
  • All-inclusive
  • Culturally diverse

Being an inclusive leader requires you to lead from the front; discussing your experiences with your team can help with understanding and bonding. Discuss your good experiences and challenges too.

Hearing all the voices in your teams about their multicultural experiences brings about understanding and allows people to adapt to a new way of working; it also brings your team closer together which, in turn, will help with any potential conflict and bring you closer to achieving your targets.

When managing a multicultural team, consider the following:

  • Address conflict as soon as it arises
  • Get to know the members of your team
  • Consider creating a Cross-Cultural Awareness Program
  • Think about adopting flexibility within your team, by asking what their needs are
  • Create spaces for open and honest communication
  • Encourage team building activities
  • Listen to your team.
© CIPD
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