As you look around your office, is everyone just like you? No, not likely.
We live in a world where diversity can take many forms, from nationality and culture to age, gender, race, educational background, and more. Believe it or not, the more diverse your workplace is, the better it is for you to work there.
Diversity in the workplace matters due to the following reasons:
A diverse workplace involves exposure to employees from different cultures and backgrounds. Employees learn from colleagues with different work styles and approaches.
For example, age differences help workers from traditional generations learn new technology from employees belonging to millennials or generation X.
If a company promotes diversity, it can open new exciting career opportunities for expat employees interested in learning multinational business strategy.
As a result, such employees can help the business to reach the global markets and improve marketing by reaching the diverse target audience.
Working with diversity is important not only within the company but also outside.
Promoting diversity in the workplace contributes to the company’s reputation on the international market. As a result, it gets loyalty from customers who choose partners with open-minded and global culture.
In this article, we’ll talk about diversity at work with a particular focus on the educational background, i.e. diverse degrees and majors of employees.
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Liberal Arts vs. STEM
In 2015, the Association of American Colleges & Universities surveyed 400 employers. According to its results, 91 % of employers agree that a candidate’s competency is more important than their undergraduate major.
Therefore, students should not heavily rely on their major because it does not guarantee a good job. Instead, they should focus on the development of skills such as honest communication, critical thinking, and ability to solve complex problems.
STEM majors have always been more valuable and prestigious than humanities… until recently. Here are some proofs of that:
1. Degrees do not determine a career
Undoubtedly, there’s a high demand for workers with the major in science, technology, engineering and math. However, such degrees do not always guarantee a great job. A study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that students who major in STEM pursue additional education at higher rates than average.
2. Job satisfaction grows
Liberal arts majors are no longer useless. It appears that the owners of this degree have high salaries, hold positions of authority, and are highly satisfied with their career.
According to the State of Humanities 2018 research, over 70 % of liberal arts graduates expressed satisfaction with their salary. As per the same study, humanities grads are satisfied with their current job at the same level as those who majored in STEM. The report also shows that 60 % of humanities majors are in supervisory roles.
One more study by the American University in Washington D.C. showed that in 2015 – 2017, its graduates with bachelor’s degrees in art history found a job in organizations including Disney and the National Air and Space Museum 6 months after the commencement. These statistics bust the myth that humanities graduates can find a job only at Starbucks or McDonald’s.
3. Soft skills rock
A humanities degree helps its holder to develop the soft skills that many employers consider important, e.g. communication, networking, teamwork, time management, decision making, and project management.
Results of the same survey by the Association of American Colleges & Universities can prove that.
To summarize, a range of researches shows that the liberal arts majors are as important as STEM and should not be overlooked both by candidates and employers.
Benefits of Hiring People with Diverse Majors
Speaking further about diversity in the workplace, let’s see which advantages you’ll get if you start hiring employees with diverse degrees:
1. Varied approaches to problem-solving
If you encourage diversity in majors in the workplace, you can augment your team with people that can think out of the box. As a result, your employees will look at things from different angles and thus show you unique approaches to solving everyday problems.
This is especially important when finding and hiring people with diverse educational backgrounds. For example, holders of humanities degrees can communicate the ideas of people with a technical background in a way that non-techie people can understand.
That’s why software manual writing is now called “technical communication,” and many technical writers in the IT industry have a humanities degree.
2. Well-rounded individuals
Being well-rounded means having many characteristics that allow a person to thrive in many different environments.
Employees that do the same work in a unique way add value to your team whereas their varied educational backgrounds bring fresh ideas to your organization.
3. Ambitious candidates
People applying for a position other than their degree know that they have a lot to prove and thus are more ambitious and hard working.
Actually, many geniuses either didn’t have a major in their field or had no major at all. For example, Abraham Lincoln did not receive a formal education.
Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of schools to revolutionize the tech industry. William Herschel who discovered the planet Uranus was a musician.
How to Promote Diversity in the Workplace
Now that you know about the benefits of diversity at work, let’s talk about some ways to foster diversity in the workplace.
1. Start with Yourself
No matter which role you have at work – if you want to encourage diversity and create a multicultural environment at work, you need to start from educating yourself first.
Today, more than ever, you’re very likely to interact with people from cultural backgrounds that differ from your own. Therefore, intercultural communication is a valuable workplace skill because it can help to improve communication and avoid misunderstandings.
2. Pay Attention to Other Cultures
Creating a culturally diverse holiday calendar and encouraging your co-workers to share their cultural traditions also belongs to the ways to promote diversity at work. On those dates, you can organize intercultural team buildings where people can share their traditional music, food, and ways to celebrate holidays.
Sending an email with holiday greetings is also a sign that you’re respecting diversity in the workplace. In addition to holidays, it’s important that you respect the regular cultural or religious practices of your colleagues. For instance, try to avoid holding meetings during the time of prayer.
3. Look for New Ideas and Approaches
If you’re struggling with the solution of a particular problem at work, try to ask your colleagues for help and open up to new perspectives. People with different cultural and educational backgrounds can look at issues from a different angle.
As a result, you’ll get a fresh insight gained through diverse life experiences. Looking at something in a new way may reveal a solution that you would never come up with on your own.
4. Use Global English
If English is the official written language of your company, you can encourage everyone to use its simplified international version, which can be easily understood by people from other cultures.
The Internet is now full of global English guidelines and books, such as “The Global English Style Guide” by John R. Kohl, which you can adapt to your company.
The basic rules are as follows:
- Use short, concise sentences.
- Avoid using ambiguous pronouns. For example, do not use “since” when you mean “because” – just use “because” instead.
- Use the indicative and imperative moods instead of the subjunctive mood.
- Give as much context as possible.
- Avoid jargon and colloquialisms.
- Avoid jokes about politics and religion.
- Be careful with the units of measure. Try to use more generalized terms such as “a short distance” instead of “about two feet.”
By adopting the English language in emails and other types of written communication to an international audience you show that you support diversity at work.
5. Improve your cultural awareness
- Learn about different approaches to work caused by culture. For example, Americans are quite straightforward at work, and this approach may seem rude to their colleagues from Asia. If you know this difference first, then you’ll better understand your international co-workers.
- Become a role model for others by building the right company culture. For example, you can share a traditional treat from home and thus inspire others to do the same.
- Be open to travel opportunities, especially if you have a chance to visit an office or team overseas. Many offshore and remote team leaders report that frequent visits to such destinations help them improve communication and build trust with foreign colleagues.
Over to You
A diverse workplace creates new opportunities and is good for the company in general due to the following reasons:
- Exposure to a diverse pool of talent
- Mutual respect among employees
- Reaching foreign markets
- Improved business reputation
Speaking about diversity considering the educational background, we can say that recent researches prove the equal importance of both the STEM and liberal arts degrees. The benefits of hiring people with diverse majors are as follows:
- Different approaches to problem-solving
- Well-rounded individuals
- Ambitious candidates
And here’s what you can do to encourage diversity at work:
- Self-education on intercultural communication
- Paying attention to traditions from other cultures
- Looking for new ideas and approaches
- Adhering to the global English guidelines
We hope that this information will help you develop the best diversity strategies in the workplace and benefit from the multicultural work environment.
Struggle to find the best hiring strategy? Request a free consultation from our support team today, and enjoy collaborating with talented members of your team tomorrow!