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Cultural Diversity and How it Impacts Your Long-Term Success

March 17, 2015 | John Salustri

“With a growing number of foreign investors from Asia, the Netherlands, Latin America and Europe targeting the US for its investment potential, along with the cultural shifts taking place in neighborhoods around the country, sensitivity to cultural differences is critical.” So says IREM 2015 president Lori Burger in her latest National Real Estate Investor column.

Given this changing national landscape, she goes on to say, “Every successful real estate professional recognizes the value of maintaining a multicultural workforce that mirrors the backgrounds of all of the above constituencies, most of whom they come into contact with on a regular basis. But recognizing its value and actively working to create a multicultural environment are two different propositions.”

The primary hurdle in staffing a diverse workforce is the ability to step outside of one’s comfort zone in terms of race, religion, color, and sexual orientation and recognizing “the talents, capabilities and potential contributions of people that lie behind your traditional triggers of acceptance,” says Burger. She urges managers to take a hard look at their own cultural conditioning, “and then, and here is the hard part, use this information to modify your approach to communication.”

But the IREM president is not advocating diversity for diversity’s sake. Rather, she is suggesting hiring policies that will forward your long-range success.

So what do we mean by multiculturalism? According to Sociologist Dr. Caleb Rosado, a truly multicultural environment includes:

  • Recognition of the abundant diversity of cultures;
  • Respect for the differences;
  • Acknowledging the validity of different cultural expressions and contributions;
  • Valuing what other cultures offer;
  • Encouraging the contribution of diverse groups;
  • Empowering people to strengthen themselves and others to achieve their maximum potential by being critical of their own biases; and
  • Celebrating rather than just tolerating the differences in order to bring about unity through diversity.

“Many associations, IREM among them, have turned an ear to the issue of cultural diversity,” Burger writes, “and we are partnering with the Center for Creative Leadership in a special self-paced, online course that will help members minimize cultural issues and misunderstandings when communicating.

“In today’s global business environment,” she concludes, “we must communicate respect for the customs, habits, and rituals of others. As we become more aware of these differences and more skilled at communicating across those cultures, we become better, more effective leaders."

About the Author
John Salustri is one of the nation’s most respected writers in the field of Commercial Real Estate. A multiple award winner for excellence in journalism, John is the founding editor of GlobeSt.com, the nation’s premier news and information site for the commercial real estate industry. Today John is a freelance writer and editor, focusing on helping companies boost their industry presence through enhanced web and print content. 

Photo Credit: benjamin.krause via Compfight cc

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