In the 21st century, we live in an increasingly multi-cultural world, a fact which is cause for celebration. This is the official line of governments in any case. We often hear that in our globalised world, we should embrace cultural differences and enjoy them.
Usually this isn’t too difficult if you are enjoying international cuisine in a restaurant or listening to some fabulous music from a different culture. But when it comes to our professional relationships and how we approach workplace challenges, embracing multiculturalism may not be so easy.
Something simple like how punctually people turn up for a meeting varies greatly from culture to culture; and what about all of the other myriads of professional situations you encounter in the workplace? Training is enormously helpful for creating an awareness of and way of reacting to cultural difference.
One of the most effective ways of executing equality and diversity training is through drama-based scenarios. Also known as experiential training, this method enables staff to witness a simulation which is as close to real life as possible. This helps them to gain an insight into how they react to a given professional situation and the best way to manage themselves for the best outcome.
This is done through observing a scenario which is facilitated by specially-trained actors, then discussing the experience with peers and facilitators afterwards. The resulting discussion is very valuable as participants can take a good look at what worked and what didn’t and how best to remedy the situation for a better outcome.
Across the board
They say that everything starts at the top and nowhere is this truer than in business. A good manager will influence how well his or her team ‘gels’ together, thus ensuring team cohesion and the best outputs possible. The experiential training approach is created in partnership between the business and the facilitators, so that scenarios are true to the professional environment staff work within.
When it comes to diversity and equality, the focus could be on eliminating bias in relation to gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity or on increasing acceptance of staff from different cultural backgrounds.
Not necessarily easy, the rewards of this type of training are manifold, creating a team which can overcome barriers and work together to optimise performance.