The benefits of different
(NATIONAL) Researchers have found that culture, the shared way of life for a particular group of people, is critical to a person’s overall well-being. When a number of different cultures are present in one place it is known as cultural diversity.
Articles abound detailing the benefits of cultural diversity in the corporate world and in the classroom, but what kind of benefits exist outside of these two environments? We’ve taken the positives cultural diversity brings to both the professional and educational realms and put them through the lens of community to find out.
McKinsey and Company, a global management consulting firm, has reported on the business case for diversity for the last several years. They’ve found companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 33 to 35 percent more likely to have above-average financial returns.
While being appreciative of multiple cultures does pave the way for improved business relations, money is not typically the most coveted return we hope to gain from our communities. Instead, the feeling of belonging tops that list.
Experts say the need for connection is deeply embedded in our biological makeup. The more diverse your community ties, the more connection “returns” you will yield.
Stronger community ties can even translate into personal health gains. Research has found people who feel more secure, belonging, and trust within their community are healthier, while people who feel less connected are less likely to act in healthy ways.
Famed executive Dr. Juliet Bourke ties diversity to better decision-making and innovation in the business world. This thought process emphasizes not only understanding your own ways of solving problems, but also learning to respect, encourage, and apply the ways of others to find the best solutions.
How large of a role do decision-making and innovation play in your community relations? If you hardly interact with other community members, the answer may be ‘not much’. But for those playing an active role in shaping and improving the communities they live in, or maybe even wanting to troubleshoot issues within their own families, being knowledgeable about different ways of life, different cultures, could help you brainstorm better ideas.
Finally, an increased sense of belonging just makes more people show up and do better. Researchers at the Harvard Business Review found when workers feel like they belong, companies see a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days.
Through a community lens, this could translate into more neighborly residents, more long-term friendships, and a stronger community as a whole.
We live in a multicultural world, whether we acknowledge it or not.
According to the US Census Bureau, more than half of all Americans are projected to belong to a minority group (any group other than non-Hispanic White alone) by 2044.
Educators say increased multicultural awareness and inclusion not only helps students from different cultures succeed, but it also encourages acceptance in all students and prepares them to thrive in a diverse world.
Multicultural awareness has also been known to help students be more empathetic, more open to new ideas, and able to achieve higher comprehension through understanding different points of view.
You don’t have to be in school to learn how to thrive in the diverse world you are living in. And the benefits of being a lifelong learner are additionally stacked.
Studies have shown adult learning leads to upticks in self-esteem and self-efficacy, higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction, and can actually reduce the risk of depression.
Additional benefits of diversity in the classroom include reduced prejudices and increased comfortability with differences later on down the road.
H.P. Lovecraft said, “the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”. By educating ourselves about the different cultures around us, we are able to dispel stereotypes and familiarize ourselves with the “unknown” parts of our communities.
Feelings of safety and security are so important to human well-being, renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow pegged it second on his hierarchy of needs. In addition to personal needs, these elements are also high up on the list of elements of a thriving community.
The research shows embracing diversity has numerous benefits in both professional and education environments. By embracing cultural diversity in our communities, those benefits may also be extended into our personal lives, too.
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