Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
May 21st marks the World Day for Cultural Diversity. The United Nations created this day to encourage dialogue about culture to “promote understanding between cultures and religions to challenge ignorance and prejudices and foster mutual respect.”
Cultural Diversity – these two words encompass emotion, pride, and sense of belonging that is often overlooked. When we think about cultural diversity, are we talking about where someone was born? Where they grew up? Their religious affiliation? Or the heritage of their parents? In truth, it’s all of these questions and more. The concept of culture can mean something different to everyone. That is why discussions about culture are some of the most important conversations we can be having at work.
Why does the dialogue about cultural diversity often stop when we arrive at work? It is a complex and highly personal topic even considered taboo in some workplaces. But at a time when there is heightened interest in all things related to diversity, organizations need to be talking about culture now more than ever.
It is well known that there is a business case for creating an inclusive culture. When employees feel they are a part of an inclusive workplace culture, the organization is twice as likely to meet or exceed their financial goals.  They are eight times as likely to achieve better business outcomes.1
Ricoh Canada is committed to valuing cultural diversity. It is deeply rooted in our values and founding principles of The Spirit of Three Loves, “Love your neighbour, love your country, and love your work.” An important element of finding fulfillment from work is about feeling comfortable in bringing your whole self to work, and that includes the cultural influences that make us who we are as individuals.
Starting conversations about cultural diversity at work require creating a safe and natural space for these discussions to take place.  A natural place to start conversations about cultural diversity at Ricoh has been through our Diversity & Inclusion Council.
We began two years ago as a group of about 15 employees from across the business. In our first year, we focused in on two or three key areas that were important to us.  We hosted events that encouraged connecting and conversation and included awareness and educational complements to kick start our efforts.  A key element to our success has been to start small to discover the core topics of D&I that your workforce is passionate about.
Employee events, communications or training initiatives that highlight different aspects of culture are a signal to employees that cultural conversations are welcome and encouraged.   Webinars, small group discussions and panel discussions are all opportunities to learn about the cultural experiences of others.  Popular events at Ricoh have included celebrating and honouring Black History Month, International Women’s Day, Pride Month, and National Indigenous Peoples Day.
These events have created an important dialogue about cultural diversity. The best part is that as we have started the conversation, others have sought to join in. As we embark on our third year as a council, we have almost doubled our D&I team. Our members bring ideas, insights, and new dimensions of diversity to the conversation. We continue to celebrate our cultural diversity through our growing community.  I look forward to our meetings each month. I am inspired and energized by their passion and interests.
On this day of Cultural Diversity, we continue to strive to recognize the significance of cultural diversity that makes Ricoh Canada a vibrant, dynamic, and innovative place to work.
Embrace your organization’s culture to create Change.For better with workplace technologies that put your people first.
Nicole Sweetnam
Diversity, Inclusion & Internal Communications Manager

1Juliet Bourke, Which Two Heads Are Better Than One?: How diverse teams create breakthrough ideas and make smarter decisions. 2017