How To Create A Welcoming Workplace For All Cultures Online

Last Updated on May 5, 2020 by Estrella

 How to create a welcoming workplace for all cultures online
How to create a welcoming workplace for all cultures online. Photo by Armin Schreijäg from Pixabay.

A week ago, I presented at the BizDiversity 2020 Conference on the topic of creating a welcoming workplace for all cultures. The audience appreciated the tips, for they were either Human Resources managers who are in the process of nurturing this kind of environment, or individuals who want to contribute what they can in fostering this atmosphere at work. Since many are working online now, my tips include the virtual aspects. I hope you are able to use some of the ideas in this article on how to create a welcoming workplace for all cultures online.

Some of our international colleagues come from cultures that are more group oriented. Have you ever watched one of Rick Steves’ travel shows to Europe? Especially along the Mediterranean, it’s common to spend time chatting with neighbors and friends in the evening.

People get together for parties for no special occasions. Many of my clients from group oriented cultures tell me there are parties almost every weekend. And sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a weekend!

Imagine coming from such a group oriented culture to one such as Seattle. Relative to those cultures, Seattle seems more individual oriented. And if you are new here, not knowing anyone, where can you go to have these social interactions that you are so used to?

Now that many are working online, how can you create a workplace that helps your international colleagues feel welcomed?

Creating a welcoming workplace online

Brown Bag Lunch is a concept used by some organizations to bring together those with common interests. Let’s use this idea to form an online Brown Bag group.

Take travels. If you have an international colleague who just moved from Paris, ask if she would be willing to put together a slide show to share highlights of places to see, restaurants where locals go. In the least, it provides a virtual vacation for co-workers. And for those planning a trip to Paris, who better than to get travel tips from a local?

Food is another easy way to create a sense of community. So how do you do it online?

Ask an international colleague who is fond of cooking and feels comfortable inviting co-workers virtually into his kitchen. If you love Spanish food, wouldn’t you want to learn how to cook paella from a native? And if the group plans ahead, each person who wants to follow along can get the ingredients ahead of time and follow the chef in real time. You probably want to choose a dish that takes a short time to finish cooking. 🙂

These 2 activities can easily be transitioned to face-to-face events. You can invite one or two international colleagues to share travel tips each week. That is an easy way for more co-workers to connect with the newcomers in a social way. The speaker can invite colleagues to events that highlight their culture. Seattle Center has many festivals in past years.

For the food group, you can provide a budget and ask someone to either prepare dishes from their country or buy take-out from a restaurant that features popular food from that culture. Have round tables set up for the food group so colleagues can enjoy nice conversations while dining.

These are just some ideas to get you started. Once people feel connected, they’ll find ways to get together in other areas that they are interested in.

I wish you success in creating these groups online. In the next article, I will talk about finding natural leaders to help you promote events in the company.

If you have success stories of how you or your company created a welcoming workplace for all cultures, please share them with me. Email

An article that may augment this topic is How to create a culturally diverse workplace.

Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    To schedule a session with her, please email

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