Cultural Engagement

What is cultural engagement?

The concept of cultural engagement is one that has been around for thousands of years. The first recorded mention of a “citizen of the world” dates back to 412-323 BCE, during the life of Diogenes in classical Greece. Known as one of the founders of Cynic philosophy, he advocated for complete truthfulness at all times regardless of social norms and organisations. And when asked where he came from, Diogenes responded, “I am a citizen of the world.” (Diogenes Laertius VI 63).

As technology removes geographical boundaries and connects people from around the world, cultural engagement has grown more and more important. Today we are more ethically aware and culturally engaged. The need to think, relate and respond to local and global issues, which connects people to communities and colleagues both near and far is becoming more important. And this has the power to increase growth opportunities, foster partnerships and build brands.

Why is cultural engagement important in the workplace?

As technology continues to provide new avenues for communication, our world is becoming more diverse and internationalised. In particular, many people in the workforce will work with teams in different cities and countries, and in roles where travelling to other places is simply part of the job. With this in mind, your intercultural and international abilities are critical for success as both a professional and as a global citizen.

People who invest time in cultural engagement and international communications develop the perspective necessary for working in various cultural contexts. For example, a staff member based in Thailand may have very different communication styles to an employee in the United States. For companies that maintain a presence in multiple countries (or even multiple states), standard business operations are layered with the need to localise.

When navigating a global workforce as global citizens, it is essential to promote the respect and understanding of the etiquettes, practices and meanings underpinning other cultural behaviours. More than that, however, is the importance of nurturing a culture within your organisation that embraces and respects diversity.

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