The world today is more diverse than it has ever been. The advent of globalisation, increasing ease of communication and movement has allowed many different cultures, languages, traditions and beliefs to permeate the world, no longer completely separated by geographical boundaries. This increased diversity has led to many positive effects on the world at large such as greater international cooperation, greater economic growth and improvements to the overall standards of healthcare as the exchange of information becomes more fluid. Yet, despite the positivity associated with diversity, there are those who believe that our trust and focus in creating a more diverse international community has led to countries neglecting the needs of their local people. Although these fears do have some truth in them, the benefits that increased diversity has brought to the world are undeniable and cannot be overlooked, and should therefore be more celebrated than feared.
Across the world, the pioneering of new communication technologies has allowed us to become more aware of the extent of diversity across the globe, and this should be celebrated as it has led to greater cooperation within the international community. The Internet has made it easier for individuals to learn languages on their own, and this has in particular led to greater ease of communication between regular individuals and even political leaders, allowing them to communicate with each other in a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere while also ensuring that parties can get their points across without the fear of miscommunication. This is evident through the rise of English as a universal language over the past 10 years, with a Washington Post article in 2015 marking the number of countries which English is spoken in at 101, making it the most popular language in the world. The popularity of English even in countries where the language is not the native tongue has allowed not only business and politics to be carried out with greater ease, it has also allowed the average individual to make interpersonal connections with each other from across the globe. Linguistic diversity, and the willingness to accept and adapt to this diversity, has thus allowed languages to spread all over the globe, having a positive impact on the way people around the planet communicate and brought us all closer together, benefiting our political relations, economy and general way of life. In a way, diversity begets even more diversity, enriching the daily lives and experiences of individuals.
Diversity should also be celebrated due to the positive effect it has on the global economy. The rise of globalisation in the early 2000s allowed many industries to in fact grow and learn from their compatriots overseas, by allowing companies to venture beyond their own shores. Countries such as Singapore are gleaming examples of the benefits of diversity in the workplace as greater diversity has allowed people in the workforce to learn from one another and improve their methods of trade and production. This understanding underpinned Singapore’s immigration policies, which were concretized as Singapore sought to transit from manufacturing to high-tech and value-added activities in the 1980s. Similarly, the spread of German engineering methods and Arabian textile production methods have allowed these practises to be replicated to varying degrees across the world, improving the overall quality and efficiency in these industries. A more historical example would be the development of Europe and the United States of America during the Industrial Revolution. Researchers from Brown University have suggested that the ‘openness to other cultures’, measured in terms of geographical isolation, were key to the transfer of technological skills rooted in certain cultures, underpinning rapid economic development. The improved quality of products and the improved monetary benefits that have come as a result of cultural exchange signifies the positive benefits that diversity in the workforce has brought upon the global economy as knowledge of better and more efficient methods of work in countless different industries can be shared and collectively improved on by people with different expertise from different parts of the world in order to grow the global economy.
The benefits of diversity should also be celebrated when you consider the positive effects that diversity has had on the healthcare and wellness industry across the world. Increased diversity in the healthcare and wellness industry has led to the rapid spread of many new and unique methods of treating illnesses, and introduced a vast array of health foods to the masses which have never been heard of before. Increased diversity in the healthcare industry specifically has allowed doctors to learn and study diseases which are mostly geographically contained such as monkeypox in Africa and attempt to treat them with Western or Eastern styles of medicine and treatment in order to address the problem in the countries that it is affecting, as well as prevent it from spreading to individuals in other parts of the world. Nobel laureate Tu Youyou drew inspiration from Traditional Chinese Medicine and alternative medicine, widely decried as ‘pseudo-science’ in the West, in order to discover artemisinin, a useful chemical component in the fight against malaria. Similarly, the spread of health foods such as the Acai berry in the past few years was brought from relative obscurity to fame by those from South America, more specifically Brazil, where it has been a popular health snack for a long time. Diversity in the healthcare and wellness industry has allowed the world to become better prepared and healthier by improving not only what we eat but also the ways we tackle illnesses and diseases through the sharing of different cultures’ knowledge and resources, improving the overall quality of life around the globe. It has allowed us to celebrate a time of unprecedented advancement in our healthcare systems and practices and drastically improved our quality of life in ways which would have been simply unimaginable otherwise.
However, despite its benefit to the global economy, greater diversity can undermine the economic wellbeing of individuals within countries. Greater diversity in the economy often leads to countries and corporations valuing specialist and cheap foreign talent more than the talent within their borders. This can be seen in places such as Hong Kong, where the expatriate population is around four percent of the entire population of Hong Kong, creating a higher level of competition in the workforce for the local population than they had previously experienced. This is also seen in Singapore, which depends predominantly on foreign workers to meet its manpower needs in the construction, retail and food and beverage industries. With countries more willing to look at a diverse array of cultures for talent, locals in these countries and cities have begun to feel increased levels of competition throughout all levels of the workforce as only the best and brightest can compete with the foreign experts at the top of their fields for jobs, while the competition for lower income jobs rises due to the increased number of individuals flooding to more developed economies to look for job opportunities. This struggle for employment however, has a greater effect on the poorer sections of the population as they may lack the skills to adapt and improve their skills to stay competitive, leading to the eventual rise in the income gap as the inflow of cheaper foreign talent for menial jobs causes greater problems for the poor than the introduction of foreign expats to the economy as these industry professionals have the means and ability to adapt and maintain their competitiveness in the job market. These fears underpin the rise of populist governments like that led by Donald J. Trump in the United States and right-wing governments across Europe, which capitalise on the concerns of the working class that they would be displaced. Thus, the benefits associated with a more diverse workforce, such as lower cost of labour and increasing quality of work, should not be taken at face value especially since these measures implemented without proper regulations in place may lead to the widening of the income gap and other dire consequences for the country such as social instability.
Increased diversity and ease of movement could also make it harder for countries to develop due to the brain drain phenomenon, where talent in developing nations are more willing to venture overseas due to the diverse nature of the workforce in most first world countries. Local talent in developing nations will start looking to work overseas rather than staying locally as it would give them the opportunity to work in better environments and with better benefits due to the structural foundations that have already been laid overseas as opposed to in their homes. Furthermore, the diverse nature of local workforces also encourages them to move abroad as they feel more comfortable to peruse overseas opportunities with less of a fear of falling homesick. This has been happening for years in countries such as India where most of its top scientists and engineers move to developed nations such as America in pursuit of work, draining the country of a large number of its top intellectuals who could have been working in the country to help it progress. Out of 2.96 million foreign-born scientists based in Asia, Indian nationals number about 950,000, suggesting the extent of brain drain that India has to contend with. Uganda, too, has recently plunged into a healthcare crisis as more than 2000 highly trained medical professionals have chosen to leave for greener pastures in the Middle East. The loss of these top intellectuals to foreign governments and companies sets back developing nations by taking away the people that would have been their pioneers and leaders which would lead the country to a new dawn in terms of technological and economic growth, preventing these developing nations from steadily growing and improving into first world developed nations themselves. Thus, diversity, despite its benefit to the global economy, has left many countries without the means of developing as their top talents are more willing to leave the countries for greener pastures due to the increased job security and comfort that the acceptance of diversity has created for foreigners in the global economy.
Overall, diversity has with it both positive and negative effects on the world as a whole. However, it is undeniable that with diversity, some will continue to fear it and the influence it has on the world. Despite this, with proper regulations to mitigate the negative effects that diversity brings with it, the benefits that diversity has on international cooperation, the global economy and healthcare and wellness alone should be enough to convince the world that it is something that should be celebrated and not feared.