Dealing in diversity: opening minds and keeping them open

Photo: Creative Commons

Diversity is a term that’s thrown around in business so often that it’s true meaning has become eroded by it’s commonality. For the EA, diversity is an unavoidable element of the job. Diversity encompasses a wide breadth of meanings, depending on who is hearing it. Learning what exactly diversity means to you, and to your executive is instrumental in ensuring your organisation stays relevant, respectful and ethical.

Unfortunately, diversity is distinctly non-descript. It can cover anything from inter-of ce relationships to intra-company diplomacy. Identifying what makes us different can be a real challenge, as many discriminatory factors are less obvious than others.

As globalisation of the world’s marketplace continues to bring cultures together, it has never been more important for business people to establish a solid framework of international understanding. According to the 2018 Executive PA Corporate Event Organiser Survey, more than one third of EA’s were responsible for organising international events in the past two years.

Dealing, and doing business with foreign culture is a fine art. As an EA, you can learn some basic skills to increase your success in international ventures. First and foremost is understanding. Basic research into a specific culture’s social and business traditions is a must in the preparation of meetings and events. Often a simple gesture of cultural understanding can go a long way in building ties with potential overseas partners.

Communication between different groups is essential. Understanding the linguistic basics of another nation is an easy step to take, but will immensely help overcoming communications issues. But learning another dialect is not the only way that language can help the EA understand diversity.

In the management of people, an executive and their EA have to be vigilant in the identification of intentional, and unintentional discrimination. Learning how to communicate within sensitive issues such as race, gender, disability or sexuality is not longer just important, it’s essential. Research shows that losing an employee costs a company on average two and a half times that person’s salary, a situation any executive would rather avoid. With the increased vocalisation of the feminist movement and the ever-increasing integration and migration of the world’s population, it is important to both respect and value your internal office’s diversity and empower minority groups to share their differences and experiences.

Easy mobile language learning tools

If you find yourself dealing with linguistic barriers in your workplace, it is now easier and cheaper than ever to learn the basics of a language. There are many easy to use and entertaining mobile apps that you can enjoy in your spare time to pick up a few things, and impress your executive. Depending if you’d like a free service or pay for a more in-depth experience is up to you. It’s well worth a peruse of your device’s app store to find the right program for you.

Whether it be gender, race, language, culture, religion or any other diversity scenarios, EA’s have to stay ahead of any challenges that lie before them. Learning to identify what makes us different can not only help prevent conflict, but it can also add immense value to a workforce. Creating a positive dialogue and a culture of openness is something that an EA needs to keep in mind, for the good of their executive, and for their personal and professional development.