According to United Nations and OECD, language diversity is still increasing. What organizations and leaders can actually do to reap the benefits of language diversity, mitigate discrimination based on accent, offer guidance to both native and nonnative speakers on how to facilitate interactions with one another, and create an environment that allows both native and nonnative speakers to showcase their potential and ultimately thrive?
In this research paper, professor Kim’s research team examined the cognitive and affective experiences of both native and nonnative English speakers when they interact with one another and illustrate how language diversity can affect intergroup dynamics in organizations. They also provided recommendations and interventions to global leaders and managers on how to create a productive and inclusive environment for both native and nonnative language-speaking employees at the individual, team, and organizational level. Below are some insightful recommendations:
– Perform role-taking simulations for native speakers
– Encourage nonnative employees to have positive attitudes toward their own accents to enhance their authenticity
– Encourage both native and no-native speakers to use implementation intentions
– Offer a space to explicitly talk about their experiences interacting with one another for native and nonnative speakers to enhance empathy
– Setting norms regarding what to do when native or nonnative speakers have difficulty understanding one another can alleviate negative emotions experienced by both groups.
– Organizational culture sets the tone: Promote and endorse language diversity publicly
– Hire and place competent, nonnative speakers in positions of power
– Team longevity, or structure teams so that the members of a team can stay as a team for a long time
To read the original article:
Kim, R., Roberson, L., Russo, M., & Briganti, P. (2019). Language Diversity, Nonnative Accents, and Their Consequences at the Workplace: Recommendations for Individuals, Teams, and Organizations. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 55(1), 73-95.
Professor Regina Kim is one member of ICoN. You can find more information about ICoN team members here: