03 October 2023

Learnlight Turns 16: Reaching New Heights by Celebrating Our Differences  

News / The Power of Diversity
learnlight turns 16

Learnlight is turning 16. This doesn’t change our aspirations or dedication to provide the best experience to clients, but it’s still an important reminder of how far we’ve come and how increasingly important our mission is becoming to businesses around the world. With 1,500+ blue chip and international organizations, and 150,000 learners in over 180 countries using Learnlight, we deploy education and technology to help build mutual understanding in the workplace between those with different languages, cultures and beliefs.

Thanks to our services, we have helped organizations in an array of ways – from retaining their best talent, to ensuring diversity is valued, leaders can skillfully lead global teams, and employees feel supported relocating abroad for overseas assignments.

Given our people-focused mission we wanted to celebrate our 16-year anniversary by reflecting from within, using the exercise to raise further awareness around the importance of cultural intelligence and the efforts put towards giving it the attention it deserves.

So, to that end, read on to find out about our 16-year anniversary project.

How Our Personality Changes with Age and Experience

Turning 16 as an individual marks a time – or around the time – when we are coming of age, a term that is used to describe the transition between childhood and adulthood. The specific age at which this transition takes place varies across cultures. There are numerous celebrations linked to the coming of age too – Sweet Sixteen, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, Rumspringa, Quinceanera, you name it.

But regardless of the celebration or age at which it takes place, what is common ground across cultures is that it’s a period in our lives where our traditions and beliefs start to independently define us. Consequently, our own cultural intelligence develops. Highly culturally intelligent individuals are not just aware of diversity but are able to relate to it and, where appropriate, adapt to differences. It rarely happens from the get-go, and we’ll explain why.

The Surprising Reality of Personal Differences at Work

Research shows that in the workplace teams coming from different backgrounds are more creative, process facts more carefully and are less likely to fall into the group thinking trap. This is because contextual diversity, I.e., when employees come from different countries, with different institutions, and political systems, can positively affect task performance.

But in stark contrast and relating to much existing research around the negative effects of team member differences (a recent review of more than 1,100 studies published over the course of 24 years reveals that 95% of those studies focus on the negative effects of diversity), personal diversity, I.e., coming from different cultures, ages, being unequally fluent in the team’s working language, and other factors that define us, make it hard for us to work well together.

For this reason, some experts believe that

Cultural Intelligence is right up there with Cognitive Intelligence (CQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EI) in the workplace.

Just like IQ and EQ, cultural intelligence is sometimes referred to as cultural quotient (CQ). And like IQ and EQ too, it can come more or less naturally to us, but always requires a level of self-development and improvement. Working on it, we can ensure the benefits of diversity – which are more likely to outweigh the challenges, can be reaped and nurtured.

Embracing Personal Differences to Become Better Teams

The good news is that, as referenced above, to some extent CQ can develop naturally over time as a way to help us evolve. When our self-awareness improves with experience, we are able to demystify our own prejudices and misconceptions and build the confidence that helps us mature. This psychological phenomenon is called ´personality maturation´ – a gradual, imperceptible change starting in our teenage years, and continuing throughout life.

Personality maturation seems to be a universal concept – the trend is seen across all human cultures, from Guatemala to India. But in this day and age where we continuously work with people from different countries, travel abroad, and offer services to clients based in all parts of the world, is our CQ evolving fast enough or sufficiently enough to adjust to our differences? What can we do to fast-track this awareness process and learn from each other?

Here’s where we’d like to open it up to you: Coming-of-Age: Our Life Journey Towards Embracing Cultural Diversity

We want to hear about your experiences transitioning through life. Were you always curious and open-minded? Empathetic and emotionally intelligent? What shaped you into becoming better at cultural awareness that you’d wish others had available to learn from sooner?

Use this survey to share your insights. The findings will be collated, assessed and shared in future blog posts for us all to learn from. One of our intercultural skills trainers will be collaborating with us on the project to provide the most insightful takeaways.

Elevating Learning to New Heights with Learnlight

To minimize the adverse effects of personal diversity and increase the CQ of our talent, we believe that companies should be proactively assisting their teams. Cultural awareness doesn´t always come naturally to us, especially at a young age, when we start our first job. What´s more, research shows its only human to find it tricky to deal with personal diversity.

Cross-cultural communication and diversity awareness training can aid this process. We’re excited to have recently upgraded our intercultural training program to offer businesses greater support in this front. Learn more about your cultural awareness program here.

Don’t forget to complete our ‘Coming-of-Age’ survey. We’ll be continuing our anniversary awareness blog posts over the coming months, and we´ll be posting the survey results there too.  In the meantime, here’s to another exceptional year at Learnlight, where we continue collaborating with diversity-conscious businesses to build exceptional teams!

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