I will start by saying that, I have worked for 2 employers so far in my 12 years career and I do not think the HR took any substantial step to raise cultural awareness. Saying that I will share my thoughts on what the HR can do.
I have always worked in multinational companies with people from various national backgrounds. While working regardless of cultural differences you are supposed to know your work and deliver. So, there is no bonding or cultural exchanges happen. But someone like myself who worked in multiple geographies can easily distinguish between work culture in India, USA, and Australia.
So, first thing, HR can do, before sending employees in foreign assignments they can train them about the countries culture and people. Along with any other training that is useful. In fact, I would say, learning the language and being able to follow accent is also critical for the employee to be productive.
I think role-based training would be another good idea. If someone is a supervisor who has a multicultural team, should be trained on how to handle people from different cultures. And if someone is an employee and who will be part of a multicultural team should be trained on how to adapt to the new culture which is different than his own culture.
HR can arrange group activity outside of work hours so that employees can know each other better. This can be pot luck or a night out after work, anything, that will bring the team together and they will know and understand each other better.
Do you think that HR bears the brunt of this task or are there other offices within an organization that should be sharing in this goal?
I do not think HR alone can be responsible. The supervisors, management and leadership team everyone should build up a welcoming culture. HR can be more of a facilitator. HR can collaborate between teams and people, gather information, where and how multicultural teams can function better or what training team members will need and why. But all these training of employees means time, resources and money. So, leadership and management should promote and help HR with all the required resources and these costs should be viewed as an investment in developing a better corporate culture to boost employee morale and productivity and potentially boosting retention rate.
Both HR and leadership should focus on retention of talent. Otherwise recruiting people from diverse background might not result in diversity. People might leave and eventually the organization would end up being homogeneous (Miller, 2016).
How can Human Resources help to promote an environment that is welcoming, respectful, and inclusive?
Human resource can play an important role in an organization developing cultural awareness by arranging cultural training, a cultural awareness program for every employee. But that is just one part. HR needs to introduce policies so that every culture feel respected and equally treated. Policies are a great tool to promote and protect cultural freedoms. As cultural awareness grows among other employees, inclusivity will follow. While recruiting, the employee can be screened if he or she is respectful towards other cultures. While dealing with a multicultural workforce is managing the rollout of initiatives, like a company’s mission and vision statement, or corporate diversity program, HR and senior leadership needs to be really careful that the mission and vision and diversity issues are not a reflection of the headquarters country’s own preference (Meyer,2014).
Article by, Panubabu