How Companies Can Improve Working with Diverse Global Teams

Framework curated by Ameera Ladak and Stefan Palios in partnership with MindFrame Connect.

Frederick Russell-Rivoallan discusses the importance of D&I for connecting global communities in a post-pandemic world.

Our society is becoming increasingly diverse, meaning the working world needs to learn how to collaborate across cultural boundaries. Frederick Russell-Rivoallan’s work at UNESCO hopes to help with this. For him, it’s about ensuring that everyone has equal respect and economic opportunities. With these two things, societies will thrive and find success.

But ensuring equal respect and opportunities requires what Russell-Rivoallan calls “the management of social transformation.” Here’s what that looks like.

Key challenges to consider with local and global teams

Russel-Rivoallan explained that it’s often difficult for people with vastly different cultural experiences to understand each other. For instance, “a person from Jamaica in Toronto does not have the same type of mentality as a person from Jamaica” living locally. By becoming aware of and considering these challenges, companies will be better set up for improving international working relations.

Local work style differences:
Russell-Rivoallan stated that “companies are becoming multinational and multilateral in their nature.” Companies will have to consider the differences in local work styles based on the geographical location they are based in. He shared the example of how the workstyle of UNESCO in Paris is a very French environment, which differs significantly from the American style at UNESCO in New York. An office in a different geographical location will have to consider the inherent differences in their work style versus that of their headquarters.

Local recruitment and culture:
Cultural differences across geographies also come into play when hiring for roles that require travel, another consideration Russell-Rivoallan said is crucial to pay attention to. For example, a person’s experience working in New York for a company headquartered in New York will be different from working at the New York company’s Paris office location.

“Diversity is the celebration of our different cultures and inclusion is in fact understanding those different cultures,” defined Russell-Rivoallan. He spoke about a celebration of diversity and explained “that’s what diversity and inclusion are all about.”

Five social shifts to consider post-pandemic

The pandemic caused shifts in our social behaviours, particularly in the context of creating inclusive environments. Russell-Rivoallan shared five social shifts that leaders should consider as a result of the pandemic. Accommodating these shifts will help companies work more effectively globally and remotely in a post-pandemic world.

1. Teleworking changed office dynamics:
Many people worked from home during the pandemic, which changed the virtual and in-person office dynamics from before. Adapting to these new office dynamics will be necessary for enabling remote, global work.

2. People can be more productive working from home:
Russell-Rivoallan explained how people can “get up early in the morning and do several hours of emails or work, throw in a load of laundry, and grab the kids from school.” We are able to manage the overlap in our personal and professional lives with increased productivity. Allowing employees to be productive on their own terms will set companies up for greater success.

3. Companies need to adjust their policies:
One of the biggest things for companies to understand is that “employees can work in a different environment and can be as productive,” said Russell-Rivoallan. Their policies about working locations need to reflect this, and responding to these shifts with policies is essential.

4. Recruiters should be aware of ageism and age bias:
This has come up in a different way both towards elderly people as well as younger folks. For example, Russell-Rivoallan touched on how younger people don’t have the same advantages that older generations had in entering the workforce.

5. The importance of work environment cannot be overstated:
With more people working from home, Russell-Rivoallan explained that we need better access to the internet, electricity, and phone services at home. Companies need to consider how employees will have strong and consistent access to these resources and address any gaps.

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