Since 2003, 21 May has marked World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development and was declared by the United Nations to affirm culture’s contribution as a crucial enabler to sustainable development.
World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
Indy Wijenayaka, Senior Bid Manager
So why is cultural diversity so important, and what does it mean when we’re at work?
An enduring and important factor in celebrating cultural diversity is that it is an opportunity for us to express an important part of who we are. It allows us to highlight and celebrate parts of our identity, who we relate to, our upbringing, our history, our relatives and ancestral past, and also what makes us an individual. I know that might sound contradictory; how can a cultural identity linked to a group form an expression on individuality? It’s the connections we make to the culture we identify with that help us as individuals to identify and belong. We form these connections with our cultures through so many different ways, including food and drink, customs and traditions, geography, language, dress, and more.
It’s so important to be supportive of the celebration of cultural diversity as it allows everyone to feel welcomed and accepted, and to thrive in our workplace.
The benefits of celebrating cultural diversity
Being able to be our true self:
When we feel comfortable and valued for being authentically ourselves at work, it fosters a sense of belonging; we can demonstrate our true capabilities and achieve our potential. When we are fearful of sharing and celebrating our identity, or feel we have to suppress and ignore aspects of who we are, we are less able to truly reach our potential.
An awareness of the world around us:
If we accept each other for who we are and actively embrace our differences, we are more likely to trust each other and build better relationships. Acceptance and celebration of cultural diversity, both within and outside the workplace, also promotes and encourages an awareness the world around us beyond our own experiences. We are a global business and our customers come from all over the world, so learning about different cultures is not just important for a happy and vibrant workplace, but it is important for the success of our company and working effectively with our customers.
Multiple voices, perspectives, and personalities bouncing off one another encourages innovative thinking. In Matthew Syed’s excellent and thought-provoking book ‘Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking’, he highlights in the section on innovation how a higher proportion of successful innovators and entrepreneurs have been from minority groups, bringing fresh perspectives and thinking.
How we’re promoting cultural diversity
Our employee-led network, Racial Inclusion and Social Equality (RISE), focuses on inclusion and equality for people from Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic backgrounds. Myself, alongside Myrna Ganley, are co-chairs of RISE, and are supported by a great committee made up of colleagues across the company along with our sub-group, Friends of RISE.
Through regular meetings, blogs, speaker events and sharing of resources, we help ensure QinetiQ is an inclusive workplace, free from discrimination, celebrative of diversity and welcoming of people’s freedom to express themselves.
To support us in our efforts, we are delighted to announce our new Executive Sponsor, Shawn Purvis, President and CEO of QinetiQ US, who shares:
“Diversity is essential to our culture. When we actively seek and include different backgrounds, cultures, races and genders, we create a better solution for our company. Diversity is not just good for QinetiQ, it's essential”.
Let us acknowledge today by learning about cultures that are different from our own, while also reminding ourselves of what we all share; be it the love for our families, the different food we enjoy, or the enjoyment of the work we do.
Together, we’re making QinetiQ a place where we can connect with each other and benefit from the experiences and thinking from people with varied backgrounds.