When it comes to any organization or business, fostering a diverse team and reach is critical to achieving maximum impact and commercial success. This includes diversity in background, identities, ethnicities, genders, cultures, and more. One essential element of diversity that ties closely with culture is language. The benefits of cultivating a multilingual workplace and workforce are critical to transnational and transcultural impact.
Overall, there are many cognitive benefits of being fluent or conversational in more than one language. By mastering a second or third language, your memory improves, as does your ability to concentrate and multitask. You sharpen your problem-solving skills and your critical-thinking skills, all of which transfer dynamically into the workplace.
By making it the standard to hire and recruit those who speak multiple languages–opposed to a bonus–you are diversifying your workplace in a way that lends a variety of skills and perspectives to the work environment. You are creating a space that is welcoming to considerate cultural exchange and comprehensive cross-culture understanding. You are building an environment where diverse skills are celebrated, which in turn will attract even more diversity.
Having a multilingual workforce also provides the tools and understanding that you need to expand transnationally and transculturally. A considerable impediment that businesses and organizations face when they are trying to grow is the lack of genuine cultural and linguistic understanding of the populations they are trying to access. They do not understand that they have to adjust their business and advertising model according to cultural constructs and linguistic binds. It is also a sign of respect to the population that you are trying to reach when you have a representative who can speak that language conversationally, and thus eliminate the chance of misunderstanding.
All over the world, it is normalized to learn English alongside the native language. This is both because English has long been the Lingua Franca and because many students attend college or university internationally in the United States. Many businesses and organization seek to expand there, as there are almost limitless opportunities that a person who knows English can tap into. Although learning English is essential, it is also important to learn languages that are not as universally known or standardized. These languages can reflect the population that you wish to reach or correspond with, as well as the geographic proximity of areas nearby.
In Dubai this is especially relevant as it is considered one of the most diverse cities in the world, ethnically and linguistically. Although Arabic is the national language, and around 75% of the country also speaks English, there are also a large amount of people who speak Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Tagalog, Persian, Chinese, Malayalaman, and others. This is largely a product of the amount of expatriates who make Dubai their home. The results in an extremely linguistically diverse environment, one which is rich in culture and has unmatched diversity. In Dubai, it is not just a luxury or an extraneous skillset to be able to speak multiple languages fluently but it is the norm.
This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why Dubai has so quickly transformed into a thriving hub for business and international exchange. It is home to those who are not just able to communicate with those of their country and who are linguistically similar, but instead who can network and branch out around the globe on behalf of their mastery of multiple languages.
I acknowledge, however, that this is not the norm everywhere, but if it were, the business and leadership world would reap invaluable benefits. An organization or business can also set up programs that sponsor employees to take classes in different languages. This investment in your employees proactively works toward expanding your reach and diversifying your workplace.
These, of course, are just a few of the many benefits of learning multiple languages and applying that to the workplace. Transnational expansion, respect of the people you are engaging with, and cultivating a diverse workplace and reach is critical to both success and transcending success.