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Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are more important than ever in the modern workplace. We’re working in increasingly multicultural, multilingual and multi-ethnic workplaces and serving customers spread across the world.
If we want our businesses to thrive in this globalized economy and create an organization that embraces understanding, support and inclusion, we must implement effective D&I strategies that work.
However, the term is often misunderstood. Promoting diversity isn’t about recruiting employees from different backgrounds, identities or genders or asking website visitors to tick an ‘ethnicity’ box. It’s about nourishing a communicative work culture that allows knowledge to be shared effectively, where employees can feel heard, where decisions are made with ease and where every employee gets the support they need.
Learning a foreign language can play a key role in helping your organization achieve these objectives. It allows you to raise cultural awareness across your organization, improve listening skills and showcase your brand values whilst you also build your employees’ work skills.
Keep reading to find out how corporate language learning can help your diversity and inclusion strategy.
1. Language learning helps raise awareness of cultural differences
The culture in which we were raised influences everything. It shapes our thoughts, our perceptions, our biases and our behavior on a personal and professional level. It can affect everything from how we treat others, how we relate to them and even business etiquette such as which hand to accept gifts with and whether you can make small talk in business.
As researchers Nguyen and Kellogg discovered in their 2010 study ‘“I Had a Stereotype That American Were Fat”: Becoming a Speaker of Culture in a Second Language’, when we learn another language, we become more sensitive to and understanding of different cultures.
This allows us to develop more effective communication skills that allow us to build bridges with others, regardless of background or culture and help the workplace become more inclusive as a whole.
2. Language learning improves listening skills
“Communicating well across different cultures requires listening closely enough to not only hear the words but to grasp true meaning,” says Harvard Business Review, “By doing so, you enhance productivity and add to your ability to communicate without conflict or misunderstanding.”
Perhaps nothing improves a person’s listening skills quite as effectively as learning a foreign language. When you’re a language student, you’re forced to pay more attention during a conversation than you would in your mother tongue. You’re still learning the sounds of the language and regularly come across many unfamiliar words so you can’t afford to daydream. You must focus if you want to communicate.
As a result, you’ll find that you’re more sensitive to other people’s feelings and needs. You’ll find it easier to see beyond any superficial differences and find common ground that helps build a greater sense of unity in the office and better workplace dynamics.
3. Language learning helps build business relationships
With increased globalization and growing migration figures (pre-COVID19), businesses and organizations must work on recognizing and celebrating diversity in their relationships with clients and customers, not just within the workplace.
Offering language skills training as part of your employee benefits scheme is a strategic and effective way you can do this. When your employees can speak another language, even if this is only a few words, they’ll find it easier to build positive relationships with clients and customers. They’ll also be more understanding and sensitive to the needs of the person they are dealing with and increase the chances that your target audience will enjoy a satisfactory experience. Your customers or clients will feel heard and therefore more likely to become loyal to your business.
4.Language learning shows that your business embraces diversity
By putting a corporate language learning scheme in place, you’re letting your actions speak louder than words. You’re not simply including the right words on your website and in your mission statement, but you’re making changes at all levels to make your business culture more inclusive. You’re opening your employees’ eyes to the diversity in the world and demonstrating the fact that you’re an innovative employer for the 21st century. What better way to get ahead of the competition?
Language learning with MondlyWORKS
With increasingly diverse workplaces and business transactions taking place across the world, it’s more important than ever to build a workplace that values collaboration, cooperation and understanding. By investing in corporate language learning for your business, you can build stronger cultural awareness, better listening skills and a workforce that is designed for the shifting needs of a modern business.
MondlyWORKS can offer your employees language training that meets their needs and fits perfectly around their schedule. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.