In recent years, cultural diversity has become a topic of interest for both researchers and policymakers. As a result, many studies have been conducted to measure and analyze cultural diversity and its impact across different sectors (Nijkamp & Poot, 2015). Cultural diversity brings together two different terms – culture and diversity – which, when combined, create a concept that has been a topic of discussion in many offices and classrooms for years (Nijkamp & Poot, 2015). The things and practices one is taught as they grow up shapes who they become in adulthood. Generally, culture is a broad term that comprises the beliefs, norms, values, and behaviors installed into us (UOP, n.d). It is defined as a ‘way of being’ or ‘way of life’ (UOP, n.d).
On the other hand, the term diversity has been used to infer different concepts depending on the context. Usually, it refers to any approach that recognizes differences, such as the difference in intercultural, feminist, and integrative education, with the primary sources of difference being gender, disability, and immigration (Dietz, 2007). Notably, this view of difference implies that there are clear-cut distinguishing traits, factors, or makers.
Consequently, Dietz (2007) notes that this ideology is being gradually replaced by the notion that diversity refers to overlapping the traits that bring about human variability. Using this approach, cultural diversity is seen as social and cultural variability, thus including multiple groups represented within any environment, e.g., at school or the workplace (Dietz, 2007). This has broadened definitions given by some scholars, such as Martin (2014), who recognized cultural diversity as the differences in race, religion, nationality, language, and ethnicity between individuals from different communities. That said, this research paper focuses on cultural diversity and its role as a topic in our current society.
Throughout the entire course, we have covered a different topic, including but not limited to communication, leadership, cultural diversity, global presence, and societal and personal mindsets. Indeed, all these topics were interesting and broadened my perspective on life and the global marketplace. However, I choose to write about cultural diversity for multiple reasons.
First, writing a research paper on cultural diversity gives me a chance to understand how cultural diversity looks like in our present society. Second, according to literature, as I grow up and go out into the world, I will come across different backgrounds and ethnicities. As a result, I decided to research cultural diversity to be easier for me to recognize when I come across it. I discovered that cultural diversity involves accepting that there is an extensive range of cultures out there. In a school setting, cultural diversity exhibits accepting applications from students from different parts of the world while simultaneously incorporating their religious and cultural practices into the school system (UOP, n.d).
Additionally, I decided to write on this topic because it expands my perspective on life. Reading about others’ experiences sheds light on a different life rather than the one I am used to, giving me multiple perspectives. This way, every time I listen to someone’s experience, it becomes easier to empathize and understand their point of view. According to O’Boyle (2020), learning about new cultures may change one’s values or mindset, which may be scary to challenge at a subconscious level. Most importantly, learning about other cultures may give one a flexible way of thinking. One gets to view life from different lenses and enjoy the unending sequence of possibilities that the diversity of perspective has to offer (O’Boyle, 2020).
Additionally, I choose to research cultural diversity because it is one of the current topics of interest in the country. Nijkamp & Poot (2015) noted that immigration and cultural diversity are interrelated. For decades, individuals from third-world countries have been seeking opportunities in developed nations, causing the populations of the host countries to become culturally diverse (Nijkamp & Poot, 2015
. While some immigrants tend to adopt the dominant culture in their host countries, others tend to retain their culture and pass it to subsequent generations (Nijkamp & Poot, 2015). Besides, natives also tend to adopt aspects of the foreign culture, with others feeling attached to multiple cultures (Nijkamp & Poot, 2015). Most importantly, people must appreciate that cultures are not static; instead, they evolve and adjust in migrants’ home and destination countries (Nijkamp & Poot, 2015).
Existing data shows that more people are moving out of their home countries (Dietz, 2007). Multiple reasons can be blamed for this, including increasing globalization (Dietz, 2007) and poor conditions in their countries of residence. According to data by the United Nations, by mid-2019, approximately 217 million people had left their countries, becoming one of the factors that are making modern societies culturally diverse (Brinks, Data & Data, 2019).
This number was a tremendous increase from the 152 million international immigrants who had been reported in the mid-1990s (Brinks, Data & Data, 2019). In addition, since President Biden’s inauguration, the US has recorded one of the highest numbers of immigrants being stopped at the border (Parker et al., 2021). An article by Washington Post earlier in the year noted that as many as two million immigrants had been stopped at the Southern border, making it the biggest immigrant surge in two decades (Parker et al., 2021). This is likely to intensify the language barrier problem already being experienced in the US, as in most Western countries (Cultural Infusion, n.d.).
My hope is that cultural diversity as a topic will have several outcomes. First, I hope that the students will gain an accurate representation and knowledge of different cultural groups. One of the problems facing underrepresented and marginalized communities is that their culture tends to be misinterpreted, even in textbooks. Hence, during lessons on cultural diversity, the knowledge taught should be neutral, with the students being encouraged to share the correct information on their traditions and beliefs.
Unfortunately, some students may not be familiar with their culture as they were brought up in areas that do not share their culture. Luckily, school becomes an important place for such students to learn more about their culture. Most importantly, other students, who are usually the majority, learn about other cultures, making it easier for them to accept and include them in their activities (Cultural Infusion, n.d.).
Furthermore, I hope that this topic on cultural diversity will enhance intercultural interaction and harmony within the school setting. Research shows that there is a high correlation between exposure to different cultures and attitudes towards the minority (Hjerm, Johansson Sevä & Werner, 2018). Simply put, someone who has a higher exposure to different cultures is more likely to have an anti-immigrant attitude (Hjerm, Johansson Sevä & Werner, 2018).
Besides, Hanson, Bangert & Ruff (2016) concluded that one way of achieving culturally responsive teaching is through teaching about diversity. This suggests that learning about cultural diversity enhances interactions between students from different cultural backgrounds (Hjerm, Johansson Sevä & Werner, 2018). Usually, students tend to distance themselves from persons they do not understand their culture as they do not know what is tolerable and what is not (Cultural Infusion, n.d.).
In such situations, there is a strong likelihood of students to form an ‘us and them’ mentality as the underrepresented groups tend to separate themselves (Cultural Infusion, n.d.). Hopefully, this topic will help clear the air on some of the biases and stereotypes associated with some students, making it easier for students to interact. Consequently, this is likely to reduce bullying cases towards underrepresented communities (Cultural Infusion, n.d.).
Another anticipated outcome of this topic is to help underrepresented communities to feel included. Banks (2013) concluded that particular cultural groups remain underrepresented in the secondary and tertiary curriculum. He noted that the experiences of women and minority communities were barely recorded in the curriculum. Consequently, the underrepresented communities fail to relate to what is being taught in school, making them feel unwelcome and insignificant (Cultural Infusion, n.d.).
Learning material that is so foreign to their culture adds to their challenge of adopting foreign land and way of life (Cultural Infusion, n.d.). However, learning about cultural diversity is likely to spark the interest of these students, motivating them to learn and do better in their studies (Gay, 2013). Multiple studies have associated a multicultural curriculum with excellent academic results amongst the minority groups (Gay, 2013).
In addition, I hope that this topic will prepare the students for their future in a culturally diverse work environment. As noted by Martin (2014), increasing globalization has resulted in culturally diverse work environments. Besides, businesses are gradually recognizing the need to have a culturally diverse workforce in staying ahead of competitors (Martin, 2014). Indeed, having a culturally diverse workforce translates to perspectives and opinions from different angles, resulting in well-informed decisions that enhance company productivity and performance (Martin, 2014).
Indeed, research shows that a diverse workforce makes better decisions than a non-diverse one 87 percent of the time (Hedayat, 2020). Plus, a diverse workforce tends to be more creative and innovative, resulting in higher financial returns than non-diverse competitors (Hedayat, 2020). With this in mind, almost all work environments today are culturally diverse. Hence this topic should prepare the students for their future in the corporate world.
This topic has impacted me in several ways. First, I believe I have become a global citizen. By researching and learning about different cultures, I have learned the dos and don’ts when interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds in a global society. At the same time, I have gained a broader, more informed, and balanced life perspective, thus enhancing my social skills and deepening my understanding of the world. Finally, with these skills and knowledge at the tip of my hands, I believe I am well-prepared to be part of a global society, whether I am traveling to a strange land or working with persons from different cultural backgrounds (O’Boyle, 2020).
Cultural Diversity Recognition
Besides, it has become easier for me to recognize diversity. Even better, I appreciate that we are all different but unique in our very being. This made me respect other people’s uniqueness and anything that comes with it, including cultural practices, reactions, beliefs, and values (UOP, n.d.). Undoubtedly, learning and researching cultural diversity has made me less discriminatory against persons who are not like me. That is because, with continued exposure to people who are not like me, I have come to accept that the differences between us do not have to create barriers. As a result, I can admit I now relate with minority students better than I did in the past (O’Boyle, 2020).
Indeed, this topic has given me a richer life experience than I could have ever imagined. Diversity is a natural state of existence and makes us who we are (O’Boyle, 2020). Imagine a world where we all shared similar values, practices, and traditions. It would be boring to interact with people with whom you share a similar background, but it would be easier for humans to become extinct (O’Boyle, 2020). When people from a similar background come together, they are more likely to feel safe (O’Boyle, 2020). However, their thought process is more likely to be unidirectional and petty-minded (O’Boyle, 2020). Learning about how other people live, eat, and celebrate has expanded my worldview while simultaneously inspiring new ideas in me (O’Boyle, 2020).
Moreover, this topic has made me more compassionate towards those different from me, whether at school, work, or home. The more I learn about other cultures and their troubles (mainly discrimination), the more I understand them. Plus, I understood that we might be different, but we have one thing in common: our shortcomings. Therefore, it could be unfair to hold a mistake against someone, and worse, still associate it with their background.
Today, unlike in the past, I no longer impose my beliefs on people. Instead, I have learned to accept their traditions and practices without passing judgment. Besides, I have become more outspoken in matters concerning discrimination. In the past, I would brush off culturally insensitive comments as jokes. However, today I call out such persons and discourage them from undermining the minority cultures at work and school. Consequently, this has made it easier for me to interact with people from outside my culture. As a result, I have made multiple friends from other cultural backgrounds (UOP, n.d.). Some of them even invite me to their festivities. Surprisingly, we have more things in common with some of them than with people I have identified with all my life (Cultural Infusion, n.d.).
Cultural diversity is of interest to me because it helps create a critical thinking mindset on the same issues. Through learning and researching cultural diversity, I have realized that there is more to what we learn from the books. Our knowledge and experience with cultural diversity should not be limited to the classroom. Instead, as students, we should learn to apply the knowledge learned in class to the critical issues in our reality, such as homophobia and racism (Gollnick et al., 2009). It should help students critically assess day-to-day issues related to cultural diversity, such as the Black Lives Matter Movement, triggered by the death of George Floyd. With the knowledge learned on cultural diversity, it becomes easier to analyze such issues and understand why they exist hundreds of years after abolishing slavery (Cultural Infusion, n.d.).
Besides acquiring critical thinking skills, others should be interested in this topic because cultural diversity affects us. Usually, individuals use their culture as the standard to judge and discriminate against others for being different (Belfield, 2012). Culture is the lens through which we evaluate all that happens around us, terming it normal or weird, proper or improper (Cultural Infusion, n.d.). Indeed, if anyone is placed in a culture different from what they are used to, they are likely to be disoriented and confused (Cultural Infusion, n.d.).
Hence it is safe to conclude that we tend to judge others based on the fear of what we do not understand (Belfield, 2012). Notably, to understand and accommodate each other, Dr. Belfield suggests that we must first have a particular level of understanding of one another. This way, the biases and stereotypes we have of each will be dissipated, enabling us to co-exist more peacefully and harmoniously (Belfield, 2012). Since cultural diversity is in every aspect of our lives, from schools to workplaces (Belfield, 2012), it will make the world a better place to live in.
Most importantly, others should also be interested in this topic as it gives everyone a platform to learn how to support cultural diversity (Belfield, 2012). Learning about cultural diversity helps us identify and appreciate cultures that are not similar to ours (Cultural Infusion, n.d.). This way, it becomes easier to interact with individuals outside of our cultures (Cultural Infusion, n.d.).
What’s more, people learn ways to enhance inclusion in all aspects of their lives (Cultural Infusion, n.d.). Some of the ways that support cultural diversity include coming up with policies that favor all cultures involved and respecting their religious and cultural festivities (Belfield, 2012). According to Belfield (2012), cultural diversity gives us the impression that every living being can make a unique contribution to society despite their ‘differences.’ Therefore, in a world where cultural diversity is appreciated and honored, people would be empowered to be the best versions of themselves, making the world a better place to live because of the differences (Belfield, 2012).
Thanks to increasing globalization, cultural diversity has become a common phenomenon in almost all workplaces. What’s more, companies have become increasingly aware that organizations with higher levels of cultural diversity perform better than the rest by approximately 35 percent (Jackson, 2017). With this realization, top managers seek appropriate ways to effectively implement and adopt a culturally diverse staff and workplace (Vo, 2014).
Unfortunately, most leaders limit this role to a single program or initiative (Jackson, 2017). What such leaders do not understand is the crucial role played by the human resource department in managing cultural diversity at the workplace (Jackson, 2017). Most importantly, today, cultural diversity at the workplace demands a little more than ticking boxes and creating target ads (Vo, 2014). Instead, it requires the total commitment of an entire department to motivate the rest of the company into appreciating cultural diversity (Jackson, 2017).
That said, the human resource department takes up different roles on the cultural diversity issue at the workplace. First, the human resource department is in charge of cultural diversity training and development at the workplace (Vo, 2014). The goals of such training should be to increase staff awareness regarding cultural diversity (Vo, 2014). This way, employees learn how to handle the differences between them, making it easier to collaborate in work projects and learn from one another (Vo, 2014). Besides, the training should be purposed at equipping employees with as much knowledge and skills as possible on cultural diversity (Vo, 2014). The training modules should cover leadership and leaders’ capability to handle cultural diversity amongst the stakeholders (Vo, 2014).
Indeed, the training provides a platform for discussion on issues regarding cultural diversity. According to Vo (2014), creating a platform where employees can discuss their differences enhances trust and effective decision-making while opening doors to compromise. Vo (2014) notes that the company leaders, managers, and supervisors should be the primary target of the training.
Cultural Diversity in Modern Organizations
However, training sessions purposed to create cultural diversity awareness should involve all employees, enabling them to associate with each other and customers better (Vo, 2014). A highly experienced trainer should be hired for the job. The human resource department should most importantly ensure regular monitoring and evaluation to ensure the program is well-received (Vo, 2014). Plus, the feedback given will help in future planning and improvement (Vo, 2014).
In addition, any organization that hopes to accommodate a culturally diverse workforce should plan to accommodate diverse employees from the very start (Vo, 2014). Such a company should empower its human resource department to prepare on how to recruit employees from different backgrounds (Vo, 2014). Consequently, this translates to changing the organization’s recruiting strategies to ensure the recruited individuals are from a diverse pool (Vo, 2014).
Thus, the organization should consider its hiring lead time, where and how the job advertisement has been made, and its reputation for hiring persons from diverse backgrounds (Vo, 2014). One of the strategies that have worked for most companies is having a list of universities that historically have a large pool of underrepresented communities (Vo, 2014). However, having a list is not enough, as is recruiting the top talent in such institutions (Vo, 2014).
Once the strategies on bringing a diverse group of candidates have been developed and implemented, the next step is to evaluate the interviewers’ attitude towards the job seekers (Vo, 2014). Contrary to common belief, the recruitment process is usually not the entire objective (Vo, 2014). Unbeknown to many interviewers, assumptions, biases, and stereotypes may interfere with their decisions during the interviewing process (Vo, 2014). For instance, it is common to assume that the candidate should keep direct eye contact during an interview.
Anyone who fails to do so is disrespectful. Notably, while most Americans believe in this theory, some Asian cultures like my culture consider it disrespectful to look someone directly in the eye. In such a scenario, the interviewer is likely to dismiss a potential candidate and fail to listen to him/her on the belief that such a candidate is disrespectful. However, an interviewer who appreciates cultural diversity will understand this concept and instead focus on other body languages during the interview (Vo, 2014). Back in Thailand, I could not look at my teacher’s eyes while talking. It was disrespectful.
Most importantly, the recruitment team should be made aware of the questions to avoid during the interview. For example, questions on one’s race, religion, citizenship, place of birth, and marital statuses are discriminatory as they do not reflect a person’s ability to handle the task at hand (Cultural Infusion, n.d.). In addition, questions such as the number of children one has and how much they weigh reflect bias and leave the organization vulnerable to a lawsuit. However, with a human resource department that is serious about enhancing cultural diversity, such awkward situations would be avoided (Vo, 2014).
My topic of choice for this research is cultural diversity. This term has received different definitions depending on the issue at hand. However, according to Martin (2014), cultural diversity brings together the differences in humans, including race, ethnicity, religion, and background. Therefore, I choose this topic because it expands my view on life and global issues including working environment. Besides, with the increasing rise of immigrants in our country, cultural diversity is a significant concern across all sectors.
Additionally, I hope that this topic will help the underrepresented students to feel included while simultaneously preparing students for their future in a diverse workplace. Indeed, diversity has become a must for businesses that wish to remain competitive. Jackson (2017) notes that the human resource department plays a crucial role in implementing and adopting cultural diversity at the workplace. Cultural diversity at any organizations has changed the ways of HR policies and practices forever.
Banks, J. A. (2013). The construction and historical development of multicultural education, 1962–2012. Theory into practice, 52(sup1), 73-82.
Belfield, D., L. (2012, December 18). What is Cultural Diversity. Purdue University Global Inc.
Brinks, J., Data, E. U., & Data, E. U. M. S. Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2019 Revision.
Cultural Infusion. (n.d.). Six reasons why multicultural education is essential in our diverse world.
Dietz, G. (2007). Keyword: Cultural diversity. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 10(1), 7-30.
Gay, G. (2013). The importance of multicultural education. In Curriculum Studies Reader E2 (pp. 312-318). Routledge.
Gollnick, D. M., Chinn, P. C., Kroeger, S. D., & Bauer, A. M. (2009). Multicultural education in a pluralistic society (Vol. 90). Columbus, OH: Merrill.
Hanson, J., Bangert, A., & Ruff, W. (2016). Exploring the Relationship between School Growth Mindset and Organizational Learning Variables: Implications for Multicultural Education. Journal of Educational Issues, 2(2), 222-243.
Hedayat, M. (2020, June 24). Diversity In The Workplace Is Now More Critical Than Ever. Forbes.
Hjerm, M., Johansson Sevä, I., & Werner, L. (2018). How critical thinking, multicultural education and teacher qualification affect anti-immigrant attitudes. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 27(1), 42-59.
Jackson, H., G. (2017, September 27). Why HR Must Lead Diversity Efforts. SHRM.
Martin, G. C. (2014). The effects of cultural diversity in the workplace. Journal of diversity management (JDM), 9(2), 89-92.
Nijkamp, P., & Poot, J. (2015). Cultural diversity: a matter of measurement. In The economics of cultural diversity. Edward Elgar Publishing.
O’Boyle, T. (2020, June 20). 5 Reasons Why Diversity is Important in the 21st Century. AMP Global Youth.
Parker, A., Miroff, N., Sullivan, S., & Pager, T. (2021, March 20). ‘No end in sight’: Inside the Biden administration’s failure to contain the border surge. The Washington Post.
University of the People. (n.d.). What is Cultural Diversity and Why Is It Important.
Vo, K. H. (2014). Managing cultural diversity in human resource management.
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