7 Advantages of a Multicultural Workplace
48 Ninsters. 20 nationalities. 27 languages. Nintex’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) office in London embodies the modern multicultural workplace.
Ignacio Mateos is originally from Spain and a native Spanish speaker. He learned French for love – his college girlfriend was French – and English for business – he wanted to get the best job possible after graduation.
The trilingual Ignacio, who’s a customer support specialist for Nintex, says he believes there are clear advantages of such a multicultural workplace – for the company’s employees, customers and partners.
“We are living now in a very small world thanks to the technology,” Ignacio says. “Hence, we are going to be dealing with people from different places, so if you know their culture, it will make things much easier.”
Other employees in Nintex’s London office – as well as Nintex’s CEO and workplace experts – echo what Ignacio says about the benefits of a multicultural workplace.
“We’re all truly fortunate to be part of such a rich multicultural and multilingual organization,” Nintex CEO John Burton recently told Ninsters.
Here are seven multicultural workplace benefits, from serious advantages for your company and your career advancement, to fun office perks:
1. More Understanding – and Respect – for Cultural Differences
HR Manager Nicola Cresswell agrees that a multicultural workplace is hugely beneficial for employees. In fact, one of the company’s core employee values – we enjoy our work together – includes this – “We respect our fellow employees and encourage the open and free expression of ideas.”
“I think the languages spoken in the office are core to our diversity and embracing different cultures and values,” says Nicola, who speaks English and is learning German. “It allows us to not have groupthink. We are always being exposed to new ideas and perspectives. We encourage and support employees who want to learn second and third languages.”
Account Development Manager Prune Prestigiacomo, a native French speaker who also speaks English, loves the diversity of the London office and believes it translates into something incredible.
“We can learn to be more open-minded, flexible and tolerant,” she says. “I mean we cover a lot of countries.”
Ignacio and Deals Desk Analyst Pamela Cannella agree that increased understanding is a big plus.
“I think it offers a window to other cultures and ideas,” Pamela says. “and it just enriches you on so many levels. You get to see the world through other people’s eyes.”
Almost every day, Ignacio learns something new about a native country of a fellow Ninster, whether it’s the country’s laws, places to visit or cultural norms. He says he just learned that in the United Kingdom, you don’t have to carry your driver’s license with you when driving, and that in Slovakia, maternity leave can last two years.
“I learn about culture and things happening in all these countries, so basically it allows me to understand better this complex world,” Ignacio says.
2. Increased Creativity
According to the Harvard Business Review article “The Myriad Differences of Diversity in the Workplace,” teams that include members from multiple backgrounds and experiences work more creatively to innovate and solve problems.
“The more your network includes individuals from different cultural backgrounds, the more you will be creatively stimulated by different ideas and perspectives,” according to research by Harvard Business School professor Roy Y.J. Chua. “Importantly, these ideas do not necessarily come from the network members who are culturally different from you.”
Territory Manager Chris Greaves, who speaks English, German and Swiss German, agrees that a multicultural office contributes to creativity in the office and a fresh approach on projects.
“It’s fantastic the way colleagues find different ways to express themselves, mixing languages and gestures and teaching each other words in different languages,” Chris says. “It gives you new ideas and perspectives for facing questions and challenges.”
3. Diverse – and Delicious – Treats
Every workplace welcomes that email you get when someone has put some treats to share in the breakroom. Chocolate chip cookies. Brownies. Insert your favorite baked treat here.
But when you work in a multicultural workplace, you’re likely to see emails more frequently and enjoy a more diverse assortment of delectable treats. That’s because employees visit their native countries and return with favorite treats for children – primarily sweets – and adults – primarily wine and liqueurs.
“Slovakia has fantastic alcohol,” says Customer Support Engineer II Thomas Clark, who speaks English and a little Welsh.
Pamela names all the countries from which she’s sampled treats provided by other Ninsters. Switzerland. Austria. Poland. South Africa. Italy. The Netherlands. Belgium. Germany. India.
“It’s an impressive assortment. The EMEA office makes you gain weight,” laughs Pamela, who speaks Italian, English and Spanish.
4. Align with an Increasingly Global Workforce
A multicultural workplace is a job perk, which helps with recruiting new employees for the London office. But it also reflects a growing awareness that the world is a much smaller place than previously thought and business happens across countries and cultures.
“I think communicating globally is key to business success,” Nicola says. “Globally, we are changing daily, but many cultural aspects of different nations took time to develop. It’s these nuances that are important to people in order for Nintex to connect with partners and customers, and to have that personal touch. Continuous learning and being aware of cultural awareness brings groups together.”
5. Speak Your Native Language
While everyone in the London office primarily speaks English, Ninsters enjoy the chance to chat in their native language with fellow Ninsters.
Originally from Italy, Pamela works with customers and partners in the DACH territory – Germany, Austria and Switzerland. When she wants to speak Italian, though, she can speak in Italian with a couple people in the office, including Technical Evangelist Gonzalo Marcos.
“It’s great because I deal with the DACH territory, I don’t really get a chance to use my language skills so it’s always good to have a chance to have someone to speak to in my native language,” she says of Gonzalo, “and also because he understands my humor or references. When you translate something from your native language to another, it doesn’t always make sense to others.”
6. Learn or Strengthen a Second or Third Language
As helpful as it is to study vocabulary, master grammar and read and watch everything you can find in the language you want to learn, nothing beats speaking it. Most people learning a language want to ultimately converse with others in that language. The best way to do that is to start speaking it, even if you’re a bit shaky at first.
“I love working in a multicultural environment,” Prune says. “You can learn new words every day.”
For Ignacio, who learned French it’s good to have the opportunity to use it. “I can practice my French with one of my French colleagues,” Ignacio says. “Otherwise, I will forget it.”
Even knowing just a few of the basics of a language can be really valuable, says Customer Support Engineer I Zubair Basar, who speaks English and Urdu. “I think it’s a good thing,” he says. “I actually enjoy learning a few phrases in other languages. I’m trying Spanish at the moment.”
7. Better Service for Customers and Partners
According to “The Advantages of a Multicultural Labor Force” by Gregory Harnel, a multicultural workforce can improve companies’ ability to connect and communicate with customers. Another way it improves customer service? Employees who are part of a multicultural workforce generally are more sensitive to other cultures, he wrote.
Nintex is a global company, with customers and partners in 90 countries who speak a wide variety of languages. The London office’s customer support team includes people who speak Indonesian, Spanish, Welsh, South African, Portuguese, Indian dialects and Slovakian, Thomas says.
The technology terminology required to explain a technology issue makes it even more valuable to be able to communicate with a customer in her or his native language.
“I have had communication issues before with customers and even non-Support members have tagged along to help communicate,” he says. “When you are offering support or assistance, communication is key as it allows for the problem to be explained.”
It’s also a matter of respect, Pamela says.
“It shows them that you care and we make it easy for them to do business with us, which is what we pride ourselves on – we’re easy to do business with.”
For more information on what it’s like to work at Nintex, visit our Careers page.