Part 4 - Communicating Inclusivity


Managing communications for a diverse workforce calls for knowledge of differences and flexibility in conveying and receiving information.

Every culture has its own set of tacit assumptions in face-to-face interactions. Even when a language barrier doesn’t exist, cross-cultural communication is one of most challenging aspects of diversity management.

  • Different cultures receive information in different ways. For example, some cultures, because of experiences in the countries of origin, might distrust information coming from a senior manager, and would rather take direction from a colleague or team leader.
  • People differ in whether or not they appreciate praise for their efforts in front of a group or in private.
  • Some cultures rely more on nonverbal communication.

Take a look at this diagram (link to cultural iceberg) to get a sense of all the information that lies beneath the surface. Diversity training or cultural competency training can always be helpful. 

Some good tips:

  • Assign mentors to employees so that integration is facilitated and employees can turn to someone who can be a personal support and resource. You might set up the relationship and help to facilitate it, but for mentoring to work it’s important that it be safe and confidential.
  • Take it slow. Whether you’re speaking to someone who is just beginning to learn the language or a long-time English speaker but who may originally be from a different culture, it’s helpful to modulate the pace of your speech.
  • Practice active listening. Paraphrasing and asking frequent questions are good ways to ensure that important information doesn’t “slip through the cracks”
  • Group information in small chunks. Limiting the amount of information you try to convey at one time is a helpful practice for everybody.
  • Watch for cultural assumptions. When you’re speaking to someone from another culture, try to avoid jokes, slang, or references that might be confusing or misleading.
  • Opt for friendly formality. To ensure that you’re conveying an appropriate level of respect, use a more formal mode of speaking which you can scale back as the relationship develops.
  • Other cultural issues that affect communication in the workplace are roles and status, personal space and body language, such as eye contact.


Diversity in the Workplace – Online resource for articles, references, opportunities, tips and strategies around diversity in the workplace.

Indigenous Wisdom, A Protocols Guide - StepUp BC, a non-profit that provides resources, services and support for development of the human resources BC, developed this set of tips for working with the aboriginal community in the province.