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Training a Workforce to be Culturally Competent

Oct. 14, 2015
Only one-third of companies believe their global leadership development programs have been successful.

As both the workforce and the customer base of many companies are comprised of a variety of cultures, training employees on how to be culturally competent involves specific strategies.

A panel of experts tackled the problem at the Society for Human Resource Management (SCHRM) Foundation’s Thought Leaders Retreat on Oct.7.

“Most organizations tend to think that headquarters is the center of all intelligence,” explained Neal Goodman, president of Global Dynamics Inc.,  as reported by Dori Meinert for SCHRM.

Organizations “have got to provide the skills necessary to lead in a culturally diverse and geographically diverse workforce, workplace and marketplace. Without the ability to see the same situations from multiple perspectives simultaneously, none of us will ever be successful,” Goodman said.

At the conference Dottie Brienza, head of organizational performance at Bristol-Myers Squibb, said her organization started training with the chief executive officer and other senior leaders to gain buy-in. Those leaders taught the leaders below them.

Ingersoll Rand has a list of 125 senior leaders who need to complete an international assignment before they can be promoted, said Nereida “Neddy” Perez,  chief diversity officer at the company. The international assignments last at least two years to help them better absorb the culture, she said.

Ingersoll Rand has had success with a new leadership training program for women in Latin America, Europe and the U.S., Perez said. In addition, the senior leaders who mentor the individuals are broadening their perspectives, she said.

While these companies have programs in place many companies aren’t yet addressing this issue. A recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that only one-third of the companies surveyed believed their global leadership development programs were successful.

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