Cultural Diversity as a Winning Strategy

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    One of the first and most important steps for any enterprise is to maximize the target audience of potential clients for your product and/or service.  Even before you identify strategies and tactics to reach that audience, you must define it.  In America, in particular, expanding that universe logically entails being welcoming and accessible to various demographics, including such criteria as age, location, ethnicity, language, religion, and preferred method of communication. 

    Assuming access to various means of communication, an effective approach to various ethnic groups will be central.  You will need to understand some basics with each major group, including interests, customs, preferred mode of communication, etc. 

    Two phases would be marketing, then personal contact.  If you put out engaging marketing info, you will then want to make sure their first personal encounter is a good one.  If English is a second language, you will want to know that, but not assume.  Understand basic protocols—it is considered quite rude to Mexicans and other Latinos to dive directly into business without showing some personal interest. As with marketing in general, if you can generate a few positive responses, you gain their confidence.  If you need to get back with them, make sure you do that.  If they come to regard you as a trusted source, that is a big deal.  If you are successful with one person, you may want to capitalize on that and encourage them to refer friends and family members if they are happy.  Be sure to listen intently to their interests and wishes.  You may set yourself apart from the crowd by just being friendly, attentive, and trustworthy. 

    The next step is to build a multicultural staff.  This move has the advantage of enhancing your outreach capabilities, but also of helping develop a diverse and dynamic staff that, led by the appropriate tone of learning and cooperation by the leader, can afford you a competitive advantage because you will benefit from the different ideas and approaches, enhancing your organization’s ability to think and act ‘out of the box’ in a creative fashion.  Your group will become happier, more satisfied, and proud of the Culture of Excellence that will be engendered.  In staff meetings, encourage members to share their wins & successes, including with different techniques than they were used to.  In this way, the entire staff grows and improves from lessons learned, and will be enthused by the dynamism & shared success.  The entire team can become excited by gains made in being effective with various groups, and the appreciation of those folks for the positive attention will help maintain momentum. 

    I have recruited, trained, and led such diverse groups going back to 1976, when we assembled a tremendous multicultural staff that included African-Americans, Latinos (mostly Chicano), Native Americans, Anglos, and Asian-Americans to recruit, train, and employ a similarly-diverse group of some 1000 students for Summer Employment.  Our enthusiasm and creativity were matched by the requisite attention to detail.  Our Program was named the Most Outstanding in Metro Phoenix, and maintained that status through the next 6 years as we successfully employed literally thousands of young people. I still hear from some of those folks, as recently as last week, letting me know that this was the best job they ever had and was key to their future success.  The Leader sets the tone and plays a key role in all of this.  Differences in habits, customs, or language are best seen as opportunities and not obstacles.  The environment should be one where people feel comfortable sharing what they don’t yet know, and where they are glad to inform and share with others. 

    Since those early days, my ‘lessons learned’ has only been confirmed by my subsequent experiences as I have extended this approach to a substantial National Manufacturer which I led, to Aerospace, Solar, International Trade, and Political Campaign environments.  I am blessed with an optimistic outlook that leads me to see the promise and possibilities in a diverse environment.  If you think I might be helpful in sharing this outlook and approach with your firm, please let me know.


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    Mike Rakowsky
    Mike Rakowsky
    Mike Rakowsky is a distinguished leader proficient in training program development, multilingual communication, cultural acumen, effective communication, and martial arts mastery. His roles include current National Field Director at La Machine Consultants, overseeing voter campaigns in Arizona, and Board/Commission Member at Phoenix Sister Cities, Inc., pioneering exchange programs. He previously served at Arizona Clean Energy, Arizona Tooling & Machining Association, Semiray, Inc., and as President of Buckeye Rubber Products, Inc., steering the latter to remarkable success. His diverse educational background and career signify expertise in various sectors, empowering him to tackle multifaceted challenges strategically. Mike's fluency in multiple languages, commitment to discipline, and strategic leadership underscore his commitment to excellence and unmatched success in both corporate and nonprofit sectors.