Have you noticed how companies are expanding their operations internationally to explore new markets and opportunities? The world is becoming more globalized, and businesses are following the trend. However, venturing into international markets takes work. It comes with unique challenges and complexities that can impact the success of international ventures.
One crucial factor that can significantly impact success is diversity within the company. In this blog, I will delve into how embracing diversity in the workplace can lead to more success in international ventures. I will also discuss why companies must embrace inclusivity while navigating the global business landscape.
Diversity and Inclusion
Before we dive into how diversity impacts international ventures, let's take a moment to define what we mean by diversity and inclusion.
Employee diversity takes multiple forms. There are the commonly considered inborn traits of age, gender, ethnicity, race and sexual orientation. Other types of diversity, however, which one acquires through experience, are also important. They can involve areas of study, industry background, career path, veteran status and foreign work experience, whereby one learns to appreciate cultural differences. And when we talk about inclusion, we mean creating a work environment where every employee feels respected, valued, and empowered to share their unique perspectives and talents.
Why International Ventures Require Diversity
It's important to remember that the world and international markets are not one-size-fits-all. For companies to succeed globally, they must mirror the diversity of the markets they serve. Diversity within the company is crucial for success in this context, as international ventures present companies with diverse challenges, from understanding foreign consumer behaviour to navigating complex regulations.
Enhanced Creativity and Innovation
Diversity is not a mere checkbox but an absolute necessity for igniting creativity and innovation. The varied perspectives from a diverse team lead to many ideas that drive groundbreaking solutions. In today's fast-paced world, diverse teams have a clear advantage in unlocking innovation that drives market growth. It is imperative to understand that diversity allows for novel, non-linear thinking and enhances adaptability, which is crucial for innovation to thrive. Have you ever thought about how diversity and innovation are related? It may seem obvious, but these two words hold a powerful connection that can truly impact the world. In fact, studies have shown just how closely linked they are.
For example, a Harvard study shows two kinds of diversity crucial for businesses: inherent and acquired.
Inherent diversity includes traits like gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation that you are born with, while acquired diversity comes from experience gained through working in different industries or countries.
According to this study, achieving two-dimensional diversity is the ultimate goal for companies, as it requires leaders to possess at least three inherent and three acquired diversity traits. The impact of two-dimensional diversity is significant. Harvard's research shows that companies with this type of diversity consistently outperform and out-innovate others. In fact, employees at these companies are 45% more likely to report growth in their market share over the previous year and 70% more likely to report capturing a new market. Diversity is a powerful tool that unlocks innovation and creativity in the workplace. Companies can achieve remarkable success and growth by fostering an environment that promotes new and diverse ideas.
Building Trust and Relationships
Trust plays a pivotal role in international business and is often established through personal relationships. As David Chen, a cross-cultural communication specialist, pointed out, having employees who can connect on a cultural level is crucial for building trust, which can make or break international partnerships.
Companies need to go beyond providing good products or services to establish trust. They need to understand and respect the cultural norms and business etiquette of the target market. A diverse team can be a significant advantage in this regard, as it can help establish connections and foster trust more effectively, making it easier for the company to navigate international relationships successfully.
The Role of Leadership in Fostering Diversity
Ensuring diversity and inclusion within an organization is not just important but necessary for today's business landscape. As a leader, you are responsible for setting a strong example, establishing clear goals and implementing inclusive policies and practices to create a positive company culture.
Effective communication is the cornerstone of achieving your company goals. Good communication fosters inclusion, holds teams together, improves productivity, and builds relationships. In my team, we have an unwritten rule of being clear about expectations, needs, and issues is not only helpful, it's actually being kind. On the other hand, being unclear sets people up to fail and creates problems in the future; it can break trust and hinder productivity and creativity in a team.
Having a diverse team means having access to numerous opinions and feedback. Although it may seem overwhelming at times, this diversity of thought actually gives diverse teams an edge over others. Incorporating new ideas may feel challenging, but varied viewpoints inspire innovation, improve growth, and elevate decision-making.
Trust is the foundation of a successful workplace. Discrimination, favoritism, or unfair treatment can break trust and ultimately harm the company's ideals. In diverse workplaces, people may struggle to connect with those different from them. Therefore, it's essential to trust your team, be transparent and vulnerable, set clear expectations, recognize their triumphs loudly, and have difficult conversations privately, openly, and respectfully.
While it may bring challenges, prioritizing diversity can significantly impact the growth and prosperity of the organization. As a strong and confident leader, you must celebrate and promote diversity throughout the organization. By doing so, you can inspire your team to achieve success despite the ever-changing international landscape.
Embrace Diversity for Global Triumph
Diversity is not just a buzzword; it's a strategic imperative for companies seeking to thrive in global markets. At SBB, we understand the power of diversity and how it brings unique perspectives, fosters creativity, and enables cultural adaptation - all essential ingredients for international success.
As businesses expand worldwide, we recognize that the world is a vibrant tapestry of cultures, ideas, and perspectives. Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion can successfully navigate global ventures and positively impact the world stage. In the words of Maya Angelou, "We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value, no matter their colour."
Embracing diversity in the workplace is not just the right thing to do; it's the path to international triumph.
About the author:
Mohammad Ait Fateh holds the position of Business Development Director at SBB. With a vast work experience of 14 years, Mohammad excels in presenting proposals and tenders, boosting sales, and building strong customer relationships. He specializes in project management and business development consulting for the technology, design, real estate, and urban development industries. Mohammad has provided consultation services across Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia and has successfully conceptualized, defined, and executed strategic and creative proposals and solutions.