Actively seek cultural diversity and level up – for the self, for your organization, for humankind.
Culture. The lens through which we see the world based on our own life experiences.
Cultural diversity. The existence of many different cultural or ethnic groups within society. Cultural diversity provides exposure to a different set of beliefs and behaviors than our own.
Multiculturalism. Placing value on cultural differences and encouraging continued contribution to society and organizations.
What language do you speak? What’s your religion? How do you celebrate holidays? What is your ethnic identity? What foods do you eat? Tell me about your family.
My natural curiosity and interest in cultural differences was planted in my childhood — being raised by American parents who exposed me to the arts and people from all walks of life. This upbringing created a desire to seek experiences that expose me to cultural differences by immersion; whether in relationships, travels, or experiences.
One of my first vivid memories of cultural immersion was at about 8 years old when a Japanese family moved into our apartment complex. I fell in love with the family, which included two small children. I was welcomed into their home, to experience Japanese culture, family, and language through cartoons, candy, food, and love. I remember my curiosity and believe it’s one of many important experiences that ignited a love for cultural diversity.
As the daughter of an artist, I had a broad spectrum of cultural immersion throughout my life – from the unique artists themselves to all forms of art, expression, and creativity. The arts have always valued and accepted me for who I am, without judgement or expectation. Because of that, I see infinite possibilities in this creative universe.
At Schneider Electric, I’ve been fortunate to continue to nurture a desire to experience and learn from different cultures in my professional work. Traveling the world (virtually & physically) to solve complex business challenges with a culturally diverse team; and now leading our global diversity, equity and inclusion focus for the company.
So today, as I think about the upcoming World Day for Cultural Diversity on May 21st, I wanted to share my thoughts on some of the contributions of cultural diversity to business and sustainable development.
- Creativity and innovation — Culturally diverse teams see challenges through different lenses and offer unique perspectives and ideas. With culturally diverse teams, we can better see our blind spots, and create innovative solutions for our customers and society as a whole.
- Increased happiness and productivity — By bringing together a range of experiences, perspectives, and expertise, we all learn and grow; boosting problem-solving, and increasing happiness and productivity in teams and for individuals. Just think of the positive endorphins you’ve felt when you’ve solved a difficult business challenge, and how that created a tailwind for increased productivity on your team.
- A better future for all — By bringing the representation of all cultures, backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences into teams, we impact society as a whole. By removing inequities and barriers that historically kept minority groups from contributing, we open up a future with less poverty, more innovation, and infinite possibilities.
How we advocate for Cultural Diversity at Schneider Electric
I’m honored and humbled to work in a company that advocates for cultural diversity locally and globally. Here’s a little bit of how we’re doing so:
- Schneider Electric believes in a multi-local world with locally tailored solutions supported by diverse teams across the globe, helping us best meet our customers’ needs with creativity, innovation, customization, quality, and speed.
- We want everyone, everywhere in the company to have the same chance of success — irrespective of their identity or location. Our multi-hub model is key to delivering on this ambition, and it is built across three decentralized hubs: Paris for Europe, Hong Kong for Asia, Boston for North America. This model empowers employees and provides them with opportunities to grow within our organization, no matter where they live.
- We believe different is beautiful and we support “equitable opportunities” for everyone, everywhere from the front line to leadership. As of the end of 2021, 34.5% of our leadership team is from new economies, and 84% of country presidents are from the country or region they are leading.
For World Day for Cultural Diversity, I challenge you to examine your own worldview and search for ways to expand it. Looking beyond our own selves, our own identities, and recognizing the value every person brings to our society is good for business, good for the self, and good for the world!
About World Day for Cultural Diversity
In December 2002, the UN General Assembly, in its resolution 57/249, declared May 21 to be the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, and in 2015, the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution on Culture and Sustainable Development A/C.2/70/L.59, affirming culture’s contribution to the three dimensions of sustainable development, acknowledging further the natural and cultural diversity of the world, and recognizing that cultures and civilizations can contribute to, and are crucial enablers of, sustainable development.
About the Author
Candace Bridges is the Global Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Schneider Electric. Candace’s passion is in creating a better future where all can thrive – to impact people, organizations and society. Candace’s career has spanned Marketing, Communications and Human Resources where she’s earned a reputation for innovation, disruption and delivering results. Joining the Schneider team 15 years ago, she has since established a framework to tackle tough topics in the workplace, and has developed programs that have advanced Schneider’s recognition as a top company for diversity, equity and inclusion.
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