Working in a Multicultural Context

The diversity in ourselves

The tendency is obvious: We live in an increasing multicultural world. Many workplaces are – apart from the international contacts – exposed to many different corporate cultures. Anyway the term “culture” cannot be limited to the country of origin of a person. The “Italians”, the “Germans” or even worse “Asian people”-concepts are wrong or at least outdated. Multiculturality is everywhere and has many layers.

Still, with this knowledge alone, we have not won anything: Diversity – by the way just another word for multiculturality – is praised a lot, but to be honest we have to admit, that it does not make things easier.

What can we do? 

Let’s start with ourselves: We (human beings) have the ability to learn to adapt perfectly well in different contexts to different groups we are in: Children from migrant families live in one world at school and sometimes in a completely different one at home. We create our own culture in our families, and we are member of clubs or different groups of friends. We belong simultaneously to different and sometimes even contradicting circles.

We are multicultural in ourselves!

At work we are able to adapt to different client needs, speak several languages (e.g. finance language, team language, technical language) and we are still one and the same person.

Integrating this inner diversity is possible, if we are aware of it. It is key to know, how to integrate our authentic self with the different faces we show in different contexts. And with this we are ready for the multicultural context. Integrating (and working in a multicultural context) means, to be ready 1. to encounter different point of views without prejudice, 2. creating common grounds and foster trust and understanding, and 3. investing our energy into an exchange both sides will profit from. 

This path is usually not an obvious one, it takes an extra effort and training. But if we succeed, it is rewarding and fun!

Dan Wiener, “Culture, Diverstiy, Integration”, 2022 Panta Rhei Edition