Throughout the past few decades, diversity and inclusivity have become an intrinsic part of our lives. Companies have realized that having a diverse workforce gives them a competitive advantage in the market, increases employee satisfaction, and allows for targeting a larger customer base. Therefore, many companies are undertaking initiatives to facilitate inclusivity amongst a diverse workforce. One diversity and inclusivity initiative present in many mature programs is accurate translation and localization for customers and employees alike.
What is diversity and why does it matter?
One of the most comprehensive definitions of diversity is given by Workable: “The diversity definition refers to the existence of variations of different characteristics in a group of people. These characteristics could be everything that makes us unique, such as our cognitive skills and personality traits, along with the things that shape our identity (e.g., race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, cultural background).”
With the globalization of trade and the promotion of free movement of people, diversity has become quite important in the workplace. Many companies strive to cover foreign markets, but in those markets, they must learn to operate in a multilingual and multicultural atmosphere. Quite often multinational companies work with both foreign customers and employees in their international offices, which necessitates undertaking inclusion initiatives that bring all the employees together and foster the same company values in them.
In the United States alone, over 66 million residents speak a language different than English at home, according to a Slator survey. Therefore, even companies that operate only in the local market can have a diverse workforce and need to think of how they can best include all employees in corporate life.
Diversity and inclusivity – part of one paradigm in the workplace
Diversity cannot function properly without inclusivity. This is more than valid for a workplace where everyday communication is of paramount importance for achieving the set goals. To make sure all employees are aware of the company’s vision, mission, and culture, they must be properly trained. Providing training in an employee’s own language can guarantee that the same message is best conveyed to all employees.
There are different strategies that a company can incorporate into employee training for better results. Companies should aim for their employee training to:
- acknowledge differences and value all diversity
- encourage personal evaluation and growth
- promote loyalty via inclusive events (cultural-awareness meetings, celebrations, team-building exercises, etc.)
- let people learn by doing
- provide mentors speaking the language of the trainees
- educate the leaders
It is necessary to create goals and measure progress in a way that considers the differences in the workforce and how to make people feel included in company life. All the indicators should be adjusted so they celebrate diversity and consider the strengths of each group, regardless of its origin, gender, age, location, etc. There is no room for one size fits all initiatives, as they will not lead to the desired results at the end of the day.
Having a diverse workforce does not automatically mean they can form an inclusive community. It is pertinent that the company creates non-discriminative policies that allow every employee to thrive and at the same time maintain a sense of belonging to the whole.
How do translation and localization support a diverse workforce?
A great way to celebrate diversity and promote inclusivity is by organizing events such as initial or ongoing company training for all employees. It should be clear that everyone at the company has equal access to the company resources. The best way to achieve equal access is to offer translated and localized training courses that consider linguistic and cultural differences. The goal is for everyone to leave the training with the feeling that the course was specifically tailored for them. Translation and training should go together in a diverse workforce because translation is the peak maturity of an inclusive initiative.
Likewise, translation should be part of all other initiatives fostered by the company. Organizing an inclusivity council where all members can speak in their language to be able to present their ideas fully and completely is a good way to show respect to non-English speaking employees. Interpretation can also be provided throughout the meetings and all the minutes could be translated afterward into the necessary languages for the information to be disseminated.
Finally, diversity in the company should be promoted and protected at all levels. There could be members of the management, associates, partners, or general workers that have a different background than the rest of the employees and all of them should be equally valued for their contribution to the company’s prosperity.
At the end of the day, multilingual communications can lead to exponential growth, which is the ultimate aim of any business. Taking advantage of the diverse workforce and unique knowledge every member brings with them is a way to promote inclusivity at a company level and beyond.