Multicultural workforce 'an asset to ME businesses'
Dubai, September 4, 2013
Engaging multicultural workforces is one of the biggest challenges for organisations in the Middle East. However with the right cultural inclusion programmes, businesses with a diverse workforce in the region can prosper, according to experts.
“A multicultural workforce has far more advantages than challenges,” explained Fahad Al-Abdulkarim, the HR director for the Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan at multinational consumer goods company P&G.
His organisation’s regional office currently employs 39 different nationalities, with the company’s uniquely diverse workforce integral to its success.
"Leveraging the unique backgrounds, skills and talent of a culturally-diverse organisation fosters innovation and creativity which is one of the cornerstones of success," he noted.
“For us it also cultivates essential consumer insights so we can better serve their needs, which in the GCC is very important, as there are so many different consumer nationalities living here,” remarked Al-Abdulkarim, who will be a key speaker at the HR Summit & Expo, taking place from October 7 to 9 in Dubai.
The expo is the Middle East’s largest gathering of HR professionals, featuring a three-day summit, more than 45 free-to-attend seminars and two full-day HR master classes.
“P&G takes pride in the fact that its diverse organisation has been an integral part of its livelihood for more than 175 years. The challenge is ensuring employees are educated on different cultures to guarantee everyone in the organisation is valued and included,” he added.
Ruth McGill, the regional head of Human Resources for Standard Chartered Bank in the Mena & Pakistan, said the bank has introduced several initiatives to help engage the 71 different nationalities it currently employs.
“As an international company, the diversity of our workforce is a core strength and an important part of what makes our culture truly distinctive,” said McGill, another speaker at the summit.
“We have around 71 different nationalities working in our business in this region. The main challenges are to help employees understand different cultures, and build relationships with people from different backgrounds,” he added.
McGill said to overcome these challenges, Standard Chartered Bank set up a diversity and inclusion council to bridge cultural understanding across the bank. "We proactively encourage more inclusion in our workforce, and have regular workshops for our line managers to increase their cultural sensitivity and awareness," he noted.
“There are real business benefits of creating that inclusion because it very much links to engagement and staff retention. If you have a highly engaged workforce, you are more likely to retain it. Diversity and cultural inclusion in the workforce brings real benefits to both our employees and customers, hence playing a role in business performance,” he added.
Celebrating 10 years this year, the HR Summit & Expo is a key industry event in the Middle East, attracting a speaker line-up of more than 40 regional and international HR heads from some the biggest multinational organisations in the world.
Reflecting its increasing popularity, the 10th edition of the showpiece is being relocated to the larger venue at the Dubai World Trade Centre exhibition halls by its organisers IIR Middle East, and will welcome for the first time to the region Tom Peters and Chester Elton - two of the world’s foremost thinkers on management, leadership, and engagement.
An exhibition floor will also provide a dedicated platform for over 50 exhibitors to share their latest HR solutions to help advance the profession, while the Middle East HR Excellence Awards on October 8 will recognise the achievements of individuals, departments, teams and organisations that have contributed to the growth and development of the HR industry.-TradeArabia News Service