Why the Middle East needs more workplace diversity
Engaging multicultural workforce is one of the biggest challenges for organizations in the Middle East, however HR experts agree that with the right cultural inclusion programs, businesses with a diverse workforce in the region can prosper.
Fahad Al-Abdulkarim, HR Director for the Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan at multinational consumer goods company P&G, said that the organization’s regional office currently employs 39 different nationalities, with the company’s uniquely diverse workforce integral to its success.
“A multicultural workforce has far more advantages than challenges,” said Al-Abdulkarim. “Leveraging the unique backgrounds, skills and talent of a culturally diverse organization fosters innovation and creativity which is one of the cornerstones of success.
“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.”
Al-Abdulkarim, who will be speaking at the HR Summit & Expo, taking place on Oct. 7-9 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, added: “P&G takes pride in the fact that its diverse organization 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 organization is valued and included.”
The HR Summit & 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.
Ruth McGill, Regional Head of Human Resources for Standard Chartered Bank in the Middle East, North Africa & Pakistan, and another speaker at the summit, said that 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. “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.”
McGill said to overcome these challenges, Standard Chartered Bank set up a diversity and inclusion council to bridge cultural understanding across the bank, adding: “We proactively encourage more inclusion in our workforce, and have regular workshops for our line managers to increase their cultural sensitivity and awareness.
“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.”