I’ve been privileged to share and experience many cultures and languages since a young age - from travels as a child, an education in multicultural Melbourne, to working across Africa, Europe and the Americas. Witnessing people from all walks of life, I’ve learnt that diversity is a strength, not a burden communities need to overcome. My appreciation of diversity – every Australian's ability to come to work and be who they are - is what drives me to be involved in the Australian Leadership project.
The Australian Leadership project celebrates best practices from leadership across various domains in Australia. In our exchange with over 200 interviewees and thousands of readers with a common interest - leadership - we find that diversity stands out as a common theme.
The Australian Leadership project seeks the opinions of Australians on leadership from a wide array of industries. Through many conversations with executives, presidents and entrepreneurs, I have found that cultural diversity is a priority amongst many organisations. They agree that a diverse workplace enhances employee culture, innovation and creativity, and thus drives growth.
That’s not so say a diverse working place is all roses. A culturally and linguistically diverse workplace also means miscommunication and misunderstanding can be common. As an advisor in leadership consultancy, a large part of my work involves honing the skill of cross-cultural communication. It’s imperative that we understand how our actions can be perceived across different cultures, so thus we must be aware of when we can cause offence.
Cross-cultural communication also recognises situations where we can leverage our differences and create opportunities. This is important not only for improving work culture, but also customer and client relations. It’s a skill that involves constant evaluation and work.
I also believe that leadership is not exclusive to executives and directors. Leadership is the way we conduct ourselves as an example for others, whether it be our colleagues, our customers and clients, our local community, our club or our friends and family.
A great way to celebrate our diversity is through food. Whether it be your workplace or sports club, A Taste of Harmony is a delicious way to celebrate our cultural heritage. I encourage your organisation to register and choose a day where all members can bring a plate from their country of origin. Best of all, it’s free and you enjoy a feast together!
I encourage you to visit the Taste of Harmony LinkedIn page for more information. You can also read Australian Leadership’s interviews, where you can learn best practice of successful work in partnership with culturally diverse teams.
Joseph Ghaly is an associate of The Australian Leadership Project.