As a large corporation, we understand that diversity, equity, and inclusion are the key components needed for better financial performance, better decision making, improved talent recruiting, longer retention and overall employee engagement. However, we cannot possibly achieve any of that unless we are making a conscious daily effort to get to know and to genuinely accept and respect everyone’s individuality.
The most important thing to understand when we talk about cultural differences is that everyone, without exception, has biases. These are based on our own background, culture, and personal experiences and often originate at a very early age. This reality, however, does not mean that we are necessarily prejudiced or inclined to discriminate against other people. It simply means that your brain is working in a way that makes associations and generalizations based on what you’ve experienced in your lifetime.
Avoiding biases entirely can be difficult, but being aware of their existence and striving to minimize them can help. One way that we as individuals can work towards a more inclusive workplace is to learn about our cultural differences and work to understand them so we can try to bridge the gap. With the multicultural workforce we have here at Ruppert, it’s important that we each take an interest in getting to know the members of our team. For managers, this is a critical step in managing cross-culturally. What makes each member of your team who they are? What is his/her background? Their country of origin? Their values? Their challenges? Their goals? How can we help them achieve their aspirations? These are the critical building blocks that will enable you to effectively communicate with and motivate your team.
Here are just a few cultural differences within our Latinx workforce that we should be aware of:
While these generalizations are helpful in understanding behaviors and motivations, it is important to recognize that not all Latinos come from the same background or have the same lived experience and should be treated individually. But with a foundation of cultural understanding in place, we can begin to build trust and respect and work together more effectively. And while we always encourage our Spanish-speaking team members to become more fluent in English—especially if they want to progress in their career—it’s always a well-received gesture when managers and team members make the effort to communicate in Spanish as well. Learning a few industry-specific words and phrases in Spanish and genuinely trying to connect, even if it feels awkward or clumsy, will ultimately encourage a better dialogue among all involved. In short, when coming from two very different perspectives, sometimes meeting each other half-way makes all the difference.