Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

In view of World Cultural Diversity this week, i would like to reflect on cultural competencies and how to blend & work well with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds.

When i first started out with HSBC, i was involved in their Climate Champion Programme where peers & colleagues around the world are co-located in Hangzhao, China for 2-3 weeks and it took lesser than a couple of days for all of us to gel.

I was also tasked to migrate + remigrate processes from the UK to Malaysia & India having 2-3 month stints abroad the UK & India.

Communication is key to blending in. Small talks such as where did we grow up, where were we schooled, whats our favourite delicacies back home, (Hyderabad Briyani & Tea still tops my list of good food in India) which football team do we support etc work wonders. (especially if you’re an English Premier League fan in the UK)

My working tenure with Hong Leong Bank & RHB Banking Group brought me shorter but insightful stints to Vietnam (Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh) & Singapore, 2 interesting countries with different set of interesting customer behaviours that you will find. The ability to adapt to different people is important here.

With the few cultures that I have been exposed throughout my working tenure, the one common thing that i have learned and will take away from, is that abide the differences in culture, if the desire to meet the objective & common goals are shared, the journey towards achievements felt faster & success even greater.

Cultural competence, in brief, is the ability to interact effectively with people from different cultures. This ability depends on awareness of one’s own cultural worldview, knowledge of other cultural practices and worldviews, tolerant attitudes towards cultural differences, and cross-cultural skills.


Hence, the importance of cultural competency which is essential to avoid problems that can range from miscommunication to actual conflict, all endangering effective productivity and deliverables in our workplace.Outside of the Workplace


Me, being a ‘rojak’ and fortunate to have embraced the many cultures within my family, will also do my best to ensure that my little girl enjoys as many festivities as part of her mixed culture not forgetting all the good food it comes with as well (ditanggung halal 😅)

It will also be my duty as her ‘Papa’ to let her experience the many different countries, beliefs, cultures & people from a young age.

Well, like they always say, we will savour not only the destination BUT also the Journey..

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