Respecting cultural diversity means to embrace and appreciate the differences and celebrate and leverage the similarities.
We need to overcome our anxiety and fears. This requires that we understand that there are many societies that emerged around the globe which differ not only in language, dress and traditions, but also in the way they organise themselves. Each of us was born into a society with a specific culture, which forms the foundations of our beliefs, values, knowledge and rituals. Some of today’s cultures date back thousands of years.
Respect means to open up to other cultures. We need to slip into the shoes of other cultures by better understanding our own. By better understanding ourselves. The more we understand our foundations and the better we are rooted in our culture the easier it is to open up to other societies. The easier it is to appreciate the encounter and exchange with members of the diverse cultural landscape planet Earth has to offer.
Respect for cultural diversity requires that we accept that other societies are rooted as much in their cultures as we are in ours. No one can easily - if at all - change the cultural skin. No one should be forced to give up their own culture in exchange for another one.
As much as we need to accept the laws and conventions of our own culture at the place where we come from and where we live, we are required to respect the systems, frameworks and ways of living at the places we visit and even more importantly where wish to move to. “Do as the Romans do” is not only a helpful guide for smooth travels but also a recipe for business success. And it is a prerequisite for successful integration in the society at a foreign land.
It can be very exciting to indulge into the roots of our own society and to contrast our own culture with other cultures, understand the evolution and discover the potential crossroads of a common past. Books and conversations with people from other cultures at home and abroad can broaden our knowledge through enriching views on the world’s cultural diversity.
Diversity has many advantages. It is the source of inspiration and innovation. It is an important driver of growth and prosperity.
Exploring cultural diversity does not only require efforts to understand and accept the similarities and differences between us but also rewards us with cleared filers and the discovery of our blind spots and more importantly fresh perspectives and new solutions for our personal and professional lives.
In essence, the investment into the respect for cultural diversity has a high return.
Unity International Lunches hosts a monthly ‘international lunch’ featuring foods from different countries with an aim of integrating ethnic groups in Boscombe.