Meet Leila Saphariny, one of CSOFT’s newest staff members. Born in North Korea to a Laotian mother and a Jordanian father, Leila is the epitome of a Third Culture Kid (TCK), a term used to describe people who have spent a significant portion of developmental years in a culture different than their parents’. For Leila, cultural diversity is part of her daily life.
But for others, diversity can be intimidating and can sometimes lead to anxiety and conflict. A study by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam concluded that diversity lowers social trust. His survey of 30,000 Americans found that if you live in a more diverse community, you’re less likely to trust the people in it. While these findings may be true, the benefits of cultural diversity can overshadow the drawbacks if we each do our part to increase our cultural awareness and sensitivity. Here’s what cultural diversity can teach us:
1. A diverse environment can make us more creative and innovative
Diversity is one of the keys to unlocking fresh, innovative ideas. Each member of a diverse group brings unique information, experiences and perspectives, which will enable the team to be more creative and produce better results.
2. A diverse environment can make us more diligent
Working with a diverse group of people can be challenging because there may be conflicts of opinions or different levels of comprehension among team members. Therefore, team members are often forced to work harder; this may seem like a drawback, but the hard work often leads to better outcomes. Often, members of a more homogenous team don’t even bother to give their ideas a second thought.
3. A diverse environment can broaden our worldview
Diversity can give birth to curious minds. By learning to better understand other people’s standpoints, we will have a greater understanding of the world and be able to voice our opinion from an informed point of view.
4. A diverse environment can increase our adaptability
The more we are exposed to different cultures, the more adaptable we become in new environments. We develop tolerance for people with different opinions and cultivate a desire to understand and consider other people’s choices and preferences.
Edward Ednilao, a London native and a Beijing-based product manager at CSOFT, added that having multicultural experiences on your resume can also make you more attractive in the eyes of potential employers. “Of course diversity can often hinder effective communication, but the setbacks can be used to motivate us to become better communicators, be more culturally sensitive and emotionally intelligent,” Edward said. “Employers are always on the look-out for candidates with those skills.”