Is your workplace a multicultural ‘mosaic’ where differences are recognized, appreciated, and built on? Or is it a melting pot where differences are downplayed?

With my colleagues Pylin Chuapetcharasopon, Wendi Adair, Susan Brodt, Terri Lituchy and Aimy Racine, we developed a short survey measure that captures the degree to which employees perceive their workplaces as a multicultural “mosaic”. The measure has three factors:

  1. Recognition
    You’d think that every multicultural workplace is recognized for what it is. But in some places, there is a preference to ignore or downplay our different backgrounds: Employees may hide their cultural background, values, or traditions. Or, a “colorblind” ideology may encourage people to pretend that differences don’t exist.
  2. Acceptance and expression
    The second dimension is whether employees accept and respect cultural differences, and whether those from diverse backgrounds feel free to openly express cultural values, engage in cultural practices and traditions, and so on.
  3. Utilization
    The last dimension goes beyond whether we simply accept and respect diversity, and instead asks: Do we use our diversity? Diverse groups have a potential edge in terms of wider perspectives, viewpoints and experiences–but not all groups take advantage of this edge to advance the effectiveness or innovation of their work.

In our work, we found that employees who perceived their group as a “mosaic” in these ways were more likely to report feeling a sense of identification with their work group and satisfied with their work group — and they were also more likely to report having been able to learn from their group (e.g., “being part of this team has been a great learning experience for me”.)

Try filling this survey out yourself. You can answer each question on a 5-point scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). You can even consider sharing these survey questions with your employees: Does everyone have a shared view of the group as a “mosaic”? Or is the experience very different from individual to individual or between demographic groups?

The questions below are free for you to use. (I’d be interested to hear anything you learn from using this scale in your workplace or team!)

Perceived group diversity
1 My work group consists of many different and distinct cultures.
2 My work group is culturally diverse.
3 Others in my work group come from cultures that are different from mine.
4 Not everyone in my work group has the same cultural background.
5 My work group is made up of members with different cultural backgrounds

Cultural acceptance and expression
6 In my work group, people’s ideas are judged based on their quality, not based on who expresses them.
7 In my work group, each member’s cultural background is always accepted by the group.
8 In my work group, members can always express their “true” selves.
9 The atmosphere in my work group is always nonthreatening to cultural differences.
10 In my work group, all members are treated equally regardless of their cultural background

Culture utilization
11 My work group takes the beliefs of group members into account when designing plans.
12 My work group members’ cultural backgrounds improve my work group’s performance.
13 My work group takes cultural practices of group members into account when designing plans and procedures.
14 The cultural background of other members of my work group is utilized by the group in doing tasks.
15 My work group utilizes the distinct cultural backgrounds of group members in our group’s tasks.
16 Members of my group are encouraged by each other to challenge typical host culture ways of thinking.
17 Knowledge that comes from work group members’ cultural backgrounds is relevant to my group’s tasks.