Towards the back end of 2023, we attended the Amsterdam Summit put on by the great people at TALiNT Partners. I caught up with our very own Robert Peasnell who was in attendance sharing insights around dynamic employer branding and the power and art of storytelling. But it was the keynote speaker, Kobi Ampoma, who stole the show with an eye-opening look at how the diversity landscape is evolving.
Kobi spoke of the untapped talent opportunity within the ‘Bi-cultural’ sphere, it’s unique qualities and delved into what this new term means and where it could take our contemporary workforces. I caught up with Robert in the run up to Christmas to get his thoughts on the subject, what it could mean for our business, and where and how he sees this idea developing.
“He was a seriously impressive guy, talking compellingly about a subject that’s so noticeably under-explored in the UK.”
But what is bi-culturalism?
Bi-culturalism is the successful understanding and integration of two or more distinct cultures within one’s identity. There are two types of bi-cultural individuals: Birth and acculturation.
- Birth is straight forward. Being born in, or native to a host country and culture but you act as a guest for the personal and cultural identity. Take Gen-Z and Millennials.
- Acculturation is being born in the country of origin, being native to their heritage culture and you feel comfortable navigating both. Like Millennials and Baby Boomers.
The unique traits of those that experience biculturalism is the intersect between navigating the various cultures while identifying as a member of both or all.
Some other terms in a similar vein:
- Multicultural. To live or experience multiple cultures
- Third Cultural. Moving into another culture because of a parent or adult’s career choice.
- Biracial. Offspring of parents from two separate races.
- Hyphenated. People of migrated descent. Thinking Irish-American or Italian-American.
- Double Conscious. Reconciling with your cultural heritage while being brought up in a society dominated by another.
As we mentioned above, the very idea of bi-culturalism is under-explored so the data we’re using is more of a guide to how we could and should be representative of the term. But it’s astonishing to learn that 48% of Gen-Z in the UK identifies as part of a cultural minority and that by 2030, there’ll be 13m second generation bi-cultural candidates entering the US workforce. Closer to home, in Kobi’s home nation, more than half the population of Amsterdam identifies as bi-cultural.
Bi-cultural identity and integration captures the degree to which bi-cultural individuals perceive their mainstream and ethnic cultural identities. The old mindset talking of not belonging, ostracization, and low integration – these identities are conflicting and oppositional. But in our current society they’re more about finding complementary identities that’re integrated across cultures – learning about cultures and finding the right ‘tribe’ where you can have purpose.
The recruitment and candidate angle here is that, quite simply, bi-cultural individuals have lived in different worlds. They have a broader appreciation of people in general. People’s perspectives can be quite myopic; through their own lens I guess, but there’s a real advantage and understanding of scenarios and setting.
There are so many remarkable benefits to bi-culturalism within the workplace. Candidates are well educated, creative and resilient. They’re highly adaptable, offer unique perspectives, are empathetic, have extremely high and diverse social skills and are very purpose driven. And all of these things are supported by a community-oriented and value-led morality.
To put it simply. By understanding, adopting and supporting a bi-culturally aware workplace you’ll naturally cultivate inclusivity, improve communication across your business and access numerous new cognitive and cultural capabilities and sensibilities that you wouldn’t even know exist in the first place.
And competence around bi-culturalism comes from three things:
- Professional efficiency
- Social efficacy
- Cultural intelligence
Now it’s worth noting that, because we’re still learning about what this idea truly means, we simply want to draw attention and interest to it. When it comes to diversity, the recruitment industry is required to rapidly evolve far beyond the traditional (and now outdated) use of the term BAME. Diversity means so much more than ethnicity and appearance now. And whether that’s around an individuals’ protected characteristics, invisible disabilities or a misunderstood bi-cultural heritage, we’re able to think about diversity in the round. As a way for organisations to really act as an enabler for the future of this hugely important and culturally significant subject.
And there’s plenty more to follow…