Importance of Cultural Diversity for Non-Profit Organisations
September 9, 2020|
In 1941, Mahnaz Afkhami an Iranian-American Human rights activist quoted “We have the ability to achieve—if we master the necessary goodwill—a common global society blessed with a shared culture of peace that is nourished by the ethnic, national and local diversities that enrich our lives”. 79 years down the line, it has become important to embrace cultural diversity in workplaces.
Cultural diversity is the quality of diverse and different cultures, the coming together of individuals to achieve one goal and purpose. The goal of any non-profits is to proffer solutions to problems in any chosen field or community and a culturally diverse team helps to bring different perspectives towards achieving the organisation’s set goals.
While it is important to celebrate and accept cultural diversity, there is a need for organization leaders to think about innovative ways to communicate with their project beneficiaries during any outreach or intervention as the language barrier might be a roadblock to achieving success with any project. Language is one of the hallmarks of any culture and this could lead to a communication problem at the early stages of a project and also when deploying the project.
Community Intervention/Entry is usually one of the first steps to kickstarting a project and during any community intervention, there is a need for the organization to engage the community stakeholders and also carry out the needs assessment. Understanding that the organizations/ teams carrying out the needs assessment might not be native of that community and this could result in language barriers, would help the team better prepare to get interpreters fluent in said languages.
During the ATC Digital Village project, we understood the importance of engaging program facilitators who were conversant with the culture and languages of the various communities that serve as hosts for the Digital Villages. A typical example is the Makoko Community located in Lagos Nigeria. The community houses a diverse group of people with different ethnicities i.e. Egun, Ijaw, Ilaje and Yoruba. Due to the different dialects spoken in the community, there is always a need to consider the language gaps one might encounter during any community intervention.
Our model for breaking the language barrier in this community was to employ a facilitator who understood pidgin English and could explain in simpler terms the beneficiaries could understand.
The Negative Effects of Not Supporting Cultural Diversity
This could breed increased discrimination among team members
Reduce diverse and innovative ideas
Promote negative self-image which could, in turn, lead to elevated stress among team members.
The Positive Effects of Supporting Cultural Diversity
An organization in support of cultural diversity would experience the following:
Find reasons to meet the needs of people in underserved communities
Support the growth of community members regardless of the culture or tribe
Promote cooperation and collaboration among team members
Promote diverse and innovative ideas which could increase productivity among team members
In conclusion, Robert Alans left a remarkable quote “Cultural differences should not separate us from each other, but rather, cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity”.