Promoting Diversity in a Globalized World

Diversity is often discussed as an important cultural value, but it also has a key economic role: intermingling of different groups fosters innovation and robust businesses, and cities able to attract a multicultural mix are likely to succeed in the 21st century.

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“Today it is estimated that approximately 200 million people – one in every 35 people worldwide – live outside the country in which they were born.” – Who’s Your City

Continuing on from the previous article on innovation as a critical aspect in globalised cities, another equally important aspect for urban life is diversity.

Monument of multiculturalism by Francesco Pirelli - Toronto, Canada. (Image: addicted Eyes / Flickr)

Monument of multiculturalism by Francesco Pirelli – Toronto, Canada. (Image: addicted Eyes / Flickr)

It is important to encourage the growth of diversity among cities. Although we often recognise cultural aspects of diversity, it’s also important to appreciate the value of this diversity in the talent pool: without cultural diversity, important economic aspects such as innovation, entrepreneurship or technological advancement and urban agglomerations would not have been possible. This exact growth in diversity in people and places is what makes a great city.

American and European cities top the charts for cultural diversity, and it is this diversity that has made New York and London the cultural hubs of the world. The vast mixing and cross-fertilisation of ideas that can occur when diversity is encouraged stimulates global ideas and innovations that would be less likely to take place in a more homogeneous environment. As a report by Marco Martiniello and Brigitte Piquard states:

“Most medium-sized and large European cities are today increasingly fragmented socially, economically and ethnically. But at the same time, European cities remain places where intergroup encounters can develop and where cultural production takes place.”

Diversity not only allows different kinds of people to come together, but it also brings in various functions into a city, consequently enhancing globalisation. “The inexorable growth of urbanisation is intimately linked with globalisation, a process which is generally defined in terms of increasing connectivity between peoples and territories and closer economic, cultural and political ties between regions across the globe. Cities play a prime role as magnets for these global flows of people, capital, goods and information.”

Globalisation has also led to increasing multiculturalism in societies. Multiculturalism promotes change and inclusion in attitudes. Societies that promote cultural diversity are viewed as more global and open-minded than societies which promote monoculture. For instance, economies and societies which promote monoculture are not as progressive and globalised as societies that promote multiculturalism.

One example of this is Silicon Valley (San Francisco, California) which has progressed through the ideas generated from people of all cultures. Multiculturalism has defined Silicon Valley’s success in many ways – promoting many different outlooks on technology, innovation, science and education. It is important for cultures to respect differences in human beings and sustain growth while creating equal opportunities for all regardless of the country or ethnic background one is from.

Although location is important, geographical boundaries should not define one’s place or achievement in the environment. Yet, many societies still differ in terms of how accepting they are of other cultures, and location plays a very important role for migrant status. Asia ranks poorly among immigrant-friendly nations with countries like Australia, Canada, Europe and USA locating the most culturally diverse cities. Developed countries are more likely to attract immigrant flow and talented migrants than the developing world. There are many reasons for this, including language barriers, infrastructural, technological growth and familiarity with the place in the global sphere – as many people prefer to migrate to an English speaking country.

Therefore, it is important to encourage diversity in nations worldwide. This gives opportunities to a more united, globalised view of societies, leading to enhanced ideas and products, bringing together people from many different cultures and enabling cities to act as a medium to provide multi-cultural growth.