Why is Multiculturalism so Important?

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Which country first made multiculturalism a policy?[1] Canada! The 1971 Multiculturalism Policy of Canada confirmed the importance of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is the recognition of the existence of many cultures within one country. The value of equality, diversity, and inclusion that Canadian multiculturalism brings to society and into offices nationwide, I personally consider to be indisputable.

Equality in the Workplace

A fundamental concept that goes along with multiculturalism is equality; the respect and acceptance of one another that gives people the same rights and opportunities. Equality is important to ensure that everyone feels they can reach their fullest potential. Equality is necessary so no one is held back from moving the world forward. Equality is valuable because without it, how does one create mutual respect? The freedom that comes with equality is liberating and allows people to feel like they can give their all to the tasks at-hand by being their whole self. The confidence that comes with everyone being on an equal level means that everyone is able to better contribute their ideas. It gives everyone the opportunity to better educate themselves about the world they live in and resources to thrive in the environment they work in. The dialogue that opens up when people are equal and feel respected is enormously beneficial for gaining deeper insights. In the workplace, this same idea prevails. I think equality brings a higher engagement from within people, yielding the best possible results a team can produce.

Diversity in the Workplace

Canada is known as a mosaic representing a broad range of diversity. It is accepted and encouraged in Canada to celebrate culture, to continue traditions, and to be who you want to be. Within this idea of many diverse individuals existing within Canada, comes Canadian culture. To me, Canadian culture is made up of all the cultures from around the world. I am proud to be Canadian and to witness the many cultures around me. I am happy to be able to learn and explore new cultures right at my fingertips. To me, multiculturalism and the diversity that comes with it, is part of what makes Canada so rich and vibrant. The diversity that exists within Canada is spectacular and with this comes diversity of thought. This valuable diversity of thought that is brought into initiatives and brainstorming within the office is a product of celebrating multiculturalism within our communities. Imagine the solutions and the conversations that are had because of the many different views that contrast and cause further ideas to be brought to the surface. The backgrounds and different understandings that exist from people being encouraged to continue their ethnic traditions and explore their interests are assets. The many different perspectives, viewpoints, and backgrounds that everyone in a room has, means that these people have different insights. These insights are a product of these people’s past experiences that have shaped their knowledge. This wisdom can be brought together and discussions can reach a greater depth than otherwise would be possible and more informed decision-making can occur.[2] Diversity brings about individuality and innovation. Diversity can reach its full potential when multiculturalism is celebrated.

Inclusion in the Workplace

Inclusion is the third valuable piece that arises from multiculturalism. Human capital is a huge resource for many firms. By respecting and encouraging the continuance of individual cultural practices, everyone feels more welcome and comfortable being themselves. This capital is worth more when everyone is able to thrive. I believe when everyone is truly included then there is the power to bring values above self-interest. When people feel this way, there is less resentment and there is increased respect for each other because people understand that people can and should do things a little differently from one another. The inclusion that comes with multiculturalism means that people do not feel like they need to give up a part of themselves and they live how they want to live without needing to conform. People are more empathetic and more receptive to each other, opposed to being exclusive of thoughts other than their own. With multiculturalism comes a smaller divide between what people assume of others and what they learn about others. There is less ignorance when multiculturalism persists because people are more inclined to accept one another’s differences. The existence of many cultures and including everyone from these cultures, means that cultural barriers disappear because people accept one another and move past the surface to get to a deeper level. This translates into an office setting, when people listen and truly hear what others say or when people pay less attention to the surface and grasp at depth. When people recognize the value of including everyone then teams are more cohesive and workplace culture is more enjoyable. Multiculturalism provides a basis for inclusion, in turn creating an harmonious environment.

I truly believe multiculturalism brings unity within a community and a compassionate attitude amongst Canadian citizens; we feel the pain of others because we understand that beneath the surface differences, we are made of the same humanity. Individuals are more likely to act with their peers in mind when they recognize the connections that exist between one another and when they understand the support that everyone is able to offer each other. In my life, I have experienced the importance of equality, diversity, and inclusion and I think multiculturalism is important because it brings these notions to the forefront of society. I am proud to be Canadian when I hear the difference multiculturalism has made for the people around me. I am proud to be Canadian when I experience the mosaic I am a part of. And I am proud to be Canadian when I hear people talk about Canadians forming a welcoming nation.

Written by Rebecca Adkins