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Guyana may be one of the most culturally diverse territories in the world. That fact is universally accepted. To quote a report by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): “Guyana is a country rich in cultural diversity — the strands of our heritage come from Africa, Asia, and Europe, comingled with the Indigenous Peoples. While this diversity was originally an incidental outcome of the necessities of the exploitative cruelties of colonialism, the eventual outcome was the unprecedented richness of our variegated heritage, one that we have treasured and have given recognition to since our political independence in 1966.” Expanding on the UNESCO report, one notes that Guyana’s indigenous Peoples actually comprise not just one culture, but 9 distinct and separate societies each with different traditions, languages, and ways of life.
The term cultural diversity refers to the positive recognition that diverse cultures can make a unique and constructive contribution to the larger society because of, rather than in spite of, their differences. The term itself embodies the idea that diversity is a good thing. However, on the other side of the coin, multicultural societies may also face serious challenges. One of those challenges may be created by political forces that seek to gain and hold power by exploiting differences among the peoples in a society. Under that circumstance, it may be up to the peoples of multicultural societies to resist and reject divisive ideas being peddled by self-serving individuals and groups. Guyanese know — whether we acknowledge it or not — that this particular problem exists. Some of our “leaders” shamelessly foster divisions along ethnic and other cultural lines.
Guyanese, though, should bear in mind that there is much to be gained from multiculturalism. However, such gains and benefits can be realised only if we reject the divide and rule agenda of some of our less scrupulous politicians. Research shows that being a diverse society has numerous tangible and immediate benefits to individuals and communities. We can probably better understand and grasp this concept if we simplify the matter and tale a microcosm of society — the workplace — and examine a few examples of how multiculturalism affects a company’s work environment.
- Increased Creativity
Creativity is essential in the workplace because it plays a major role in solving problems and in decision-making. A creative workforce will use various perspectives to attain the main objective of the company. Employing individuals with similar backgrounds and characteristics will limit innovation and creativity in your workforce. Therefore, it’s a great idea to hire individuals from various backgrounds because they’ll bring diverse solutions.
- Various Perspectives
A diverse workforce will have varying perspectives when solving the company’s problems. Note that employees from diverse backgrounds will have a variety of different experiences and skills to problem-solving.
- Faster Problem Solving
Employees with cognitively similar characteristics will consume a lot of time in solving problems. Therefore, organisations should consider hiring a diverse workforce. The main reason behind this is that a diverse workforce will have diverse solutions to a certain problem. This is essential because it will save time,
- Helpful Language Skills
Different language skills in an organisation can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of employees and facilitate a wider customer reach.
Extrapolating from the examination of the work environment, one can easily recognise how cultural diversity, when approached positively, can be a tremendous boost to productivity and development at the individual, community, regional, and national levels. Guyanese may wish to think of our current realities from this perspective. That is, how our cultural differences can unite us and improve our lives rather than the opposite.