Turn diversity into advantage

Turn diversity into advantage

Recently, I learnt that an acquaintance had been getting the cold shoulder from a number of his co-workers.

It turned out he had made some culturally insensitive remarks. I thought they had been innocent but several colleagues thought he had well and truly overstepped the line.

That got me to thinking about diversity in the workplace. I suppose we all like to think we are tolerant, respectful people. In multicultural Singapore, we have lived with diversity all our lives.

But for some bosses, managing diversity among staff can be a tricky business - partly as the question of diversity is broader than you might imagine.

Of course, diversity in the workplace relates to gender, culture, nationality and religion.

But it also involves sexual orientation and increasingly, generational differences.

And industry experts warn that sometimes our tribal instincts may kick in - causing co-workers to erect barriers among themselves.

"Psychology shows that when you see something new, your first reaction is often negative," said Siemens AG chief diversity officer Denice Kronau, in an interview with The Straits Times.

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