How Multicultural Teams Can Help (or Hinder) You


Social enterprises often think globally but act locally.

There are number of social enterprises and individuals involved in social entrepreneurship, however, that do have a global impact and do act globally as well.

These include international NGOs, international organisations or international companies that are socially responsible and that have a social impact.

How Can Your Social Enterprise Overcome a Culture Clash?

International social enterprises have a different dynamic when it comes to their team and their employees. One significant aspect that I’ve seen when working with a number of international organisations and international NGOs and multilateral organisations is that many of them do involve multicultural teams.

Now a multicultural team can be quite different from a team that consists of only one predominate culture which operates in one country only. International organisations often operate in number countries and therefore operate and work with different kinds of people from different racial backgrounds, different religious backgrounds, and different cultural backgrounds and all of these factors which form a part of multicultural working environments do have an impact in the way that your social enterprise can achieve its social mission and vision.

The Debate of Internationalized, Multicultural Teams

There is a debate about the operation of multicultural working environments for social enterprises and I think it’s important for you to be aware of them.

  • FOR: The arguments include firstly that multiculturalism especially for social enterprises is fantastic. It’s great because it promotes equality global equality because it takes into consideration the various cultural, religious and ethno points of view. By having different points of views you’re more able to come up with different ideas, different concepts and ways of seeing a solution to a problem.
  • AGAINST: On the other hand, while it does have its benefits, there are challenges at times with a multicultural working environment. One major issue can be the barrier of language. Language barriers can often mean that your message can be communicated in a different way, sometimes when you use certain idioms, phrases of even certain gestures, communication can be lost or muddled and can have a negative effect on a social enterprise.

    Not only that, sometimes by having different cultural points of view, or different ways of doing things it can actually add a barrier to your social enterprise or in social entrepreneurship and achieving social impact because your team is perceiving things in different ways, acting upon information differently. There is variation in the way they work and the way they communicate and that too can really hamper and slow the level of effective impact.

    Share Your Experience!

    Therefore I would like to open up to you. Because of this debate – this juggling of two sides of the coin, I’d like to ask you what are your experiences working in an international social enterprise. Are multicultural working environments a great thing? Or can it hinder social enterprises from achieving social impact?