Unconscious Bias in the Workplace: Preventing Intercultural Misunderstandings

Recent news exposed the intercultural conflict at Amazon and Starbucks. Business owners must ask themselves, “What, if any, economic or social value is there in being a culturally competent organization?” Surely, with the emerging demographics in the American workforce, we may, find our monolithic policies under scrutiny from any number of protected groups. However, it is not the workplace rights of protected groups that should rouse our business senses to fear for our profits, rather it is through embracing the diverse needs of these groups that innovative, and highly competitive business strategies are cultivated.

Research has shown diversity is good for business. Token efforts taken to create a superficial image of inclusiveness will lead to negative consequences. This will hamstring any progress that most cutting-edge and globally successful companies strive to embody. A company must take the uncomfortable step of addressing the conditions within their companies which cause cultural misunderstandings to arise.

Amazon and Starbucks took a short-term approach aimed to solve their cultural misunderstandings. Unfortunately, such this step yields only a temporary solution.  To prevent these problems from occurring again, a more integral approach is needed. Filsan’s Cultural Competency Trainings and Consultation services provides an approach to eliminate unconscious bias. However, most sensitivity trainers and coaches believe a one-day training will not change long-term behaviors, stereotypes, and perceptions.  Investing in ongoing cultural competency, education and long-term diversity planning is how organizations can fully embrace the ever-changing task of leveraging diversity.

When culturally competent leaders opt to model for their employees, they effectively address issues around employee retention, satisfaction, and productivity regarding diversity.

Lastly, companies benefit from their employees’ highest performance when they nominate culturally competent diverse role models at all levels of the organization. Furthermore, company executives must realize diversity is not a gimmick but an asset that leads to innovation. To overcome cultural misunderstanding in the workplace, leaders have to acknowledge unconscious bias based on race, religion, gender and sexual orientations. When employees feel valued and respected, performance and productivity will rise.  It is to every company’s advantage to practice welcoming behaviors, commit to changing old habits involving biases and adopt cross cultural awareness.


Top Highlights of 2018

2018 has been one of the best years ever in business. Our motto was “moving Diversity from numbers to action.”

1.         I graduated from the Initiative Foundation’s Initiators Fellowship

The two year-program provided me with the opportunity to use my entrepreneurial spirit to create Filsan Talent Partners, build my leadership capacity, expand my professional network, help employers train, attract, and retain employees with diverse background and bridge the cultural gap 

2.         We spoke to and trained over 5,000 leadership teams, and their employees

Filsan team provided customized on-the-job diversity, inclusion and cultural training sessions for HRs, management teams, supervisors and CEOs of large and small companies

3.         We trained overseas company leadership teams

Filsan team also trained overseas companies’ top management teams

4.         We volunteered and held community gathering events

Those events aimed to build a better relationship and understanding between Muslim communities and the host community

5.         We donated books to schools and libraries

Our company motto is “knowledge is Power”- we donated “From Somalia to Snow” so that people would be able to better understand their new Americans’ experiences, challenges and opportunities

6.         We partnered with our local companies

With employee shortages in Minnesota, research shows that by 2035 one in four of the state’s residents will be a racial minority. This is why Filsan Talent Partners will help companies win the war on talent

7.         We hired new staff

To expand our impact in the region, we hired professional, ambitious and innovative staff to help us get the next level of excellence 

8.         We had an intern

To get the hands-on experience, our company prioritize hiring interns because internships helps students gain relevant knowledge, skills, and experience while gaining connections and networks in the business community

9.         We conducted need assessment research

10.       Filsan featured in

a)         Minnesota Business Magazine

b)         Twin Cities Magazine

11.       We received an award

In recognition of her leadership, the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce awarded our CEO for her volunteering leadership 

12.       We changed our name from Filsan Consultant to Filsan Talent Partners

Filsan team is wishing you Happy New Year of 2019