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By: Neha Chavan

Thanks to glochavan_photobalization in today’s world, cultural diversity is even more prevalent, which makes cultural competence the most important skill to function effectively at workplace. In a 2011 Forbes study, 85 percent of 321 large global enterprises surveyed agreed that diversity is crucial to fostering innovation in the workplace. A culture refers to the way an individual perceives, thinks, interacts, behaves, and makes judgment, and this diversity brings unique and ideally complementary contributions to create successful outcomes in work settings. Just take the example of America being a land of immigrants, and it continues to graciously host newcomers even today. The minority portion of the workforce is projected to double in the U.S. from 18 to 37 percent between 1980 and 2020, as projected by a National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education study.  The diversity is an enriching experience; however, this enrichment often comes with its own challenges.

Different cultures working together can potentially raise miscommunication, misinterpretation, and an actual conflict, which can severely hurt the workforce. The main culprits for these challenges are linguistic barriers, insensitivity, intolerance, or bias towards another cultural group, in general. All of these, whether intentional or unintentional, possess a tremendous power to define a company culture.

As humans, we don’t shy away from challenges, especially when we experience the rich benefits offered by cultural diversity in a team. Conscious, simple solutions, such as self-awareness and sensitivity to others can improved our work relationships. Some effective tools that can greatly tackle challenges are accurate communication, which can be honed through various workshops, patience to understand the differences, and finally respect for the individual’s uniqueness. A key to opening this understanding is educating the workplace community on a multicultural environment. A sense of team building, which is loyalty and working towards a common goal, is a fundamental requirement for smoothly running a business. Cultural festivities are positive and joyful but also call for self-reflection and community celebration, which can strongly motivate employees to give their best in their workplace.

Finally, the organizational diversity policies devised by company leadership paves the way for success just as much as individual responsibility. In a state of conscious response, it is possible to use every situation as an opportunity to grow. Ultimately, diversity is what brings people together with different colors of skin, different cultures, different personalities, etc., which is a celebration of our humanity. Now imagine a world where no one sees the differences—a world where we are all unique in our own ways.

To prepare you for embracing diversity throughout your career, we welcome you to attend Culture Shock? Using Cultural Diversity to Enhance Business Outcomes at the AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition on November 16 at 1:30 pm. Pharmaceutical industry leaders Annette Bak, Ph.D., Shobhan Sabnis, Ph.D., Nurulain Zaveri, Ph.D, and cultural scientist, Alana Conner, Ph.D., will lead the session.

Neha Chavan received her PhD with an expertise in drug formulation development from St. John’s University, New York in 2016. In addition, she has actively been involved with AAPS throughout her career as a leader for student chapters and annual meeting programming committee.