Diversity at the workplace 'helps the team think bigger and increases their creativity'.
Diversity at the workplace 'helps the team think bigger and increases their creativity'.

Diversity, inclusion add zest to how Dubai F&B spots operate

By Alvin R. Cabral

Published: Fri 12 Mar 2021, 5:43 PM

Last updated: Fri 12 Mar 2021, 8:51 PM

At Mondoux at Dubai Creek Harbour, Lauro Janapon surveys the dining floor slowly filling up with customers. The gastronomic restaurant attracts a diverse range of patrons, an all-too-familiar sight for him.

And even on the busiest days, his own “diverse background” helps him and the rest of his team get through.

“I’ve worked with different nationalities… and we help each other by sharing our knowledge and experiences,” Janapon, the Filipino head waiter, says. “This helps solve problems faster and results in better decision-making.”

Diversity in business has emerged as a hot-button topic, with organisations big and small racing to become an inclusive workplace. Dubai, and the UAE in general, boasts one of the most diverse populations anywhere; this has helped bridge gaps between people of different cultures, which in turn translates into more productive operations.

Diversity “helps the team think bigger; by having this ‘global’ impact, it increases the creativity of the team”, head waitress Courtney Roelf from South Africa says.

“It also gives access to a stronger talent pool… bringing a variety of perspectives and wider range of skills to the table.”

Diversity and inclusion have emerged as a benchmark for running a business, and can contribute greatly to any success. Their impact cannot be assessed only using quantitative results, and it is equally important to capture improvements in employees experiences as a result of diversity and inclusion initiatives, speakers at a recent Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry pointed out.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has presented a unique challenge to the business community in successfully engaging diverse backgrounds of people together,” said Dr Belaid Rettab, senior director of the Dubai Chamber’s economic research and sustainable development sector.

The diversity and inclusion aspect was among the four “milestones” companies need to work toward to, the others being creating awareness among employees, communicating ambitions and targets, and forming policies and procedures.

“For truly sustainable business practices, diversity and inclusion play an important role, especially in organisations that are heavily dependent on human resources,” added Bernard Matryis, chief of human resources at visa outsourcing services firm VFS Global.

The F&B industry was one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Mondoux — which opened essentially as the outbreak was starting to take shape — survived with delivery service and, “lucky enough”, not over-hiring.

“Either we close down or tough it out. I wasn’t planning on the former,” operations manager Klaudia Ziemnicka recalled.

“I knew the situation will be temporary, and will only make us stronger as a team.”

She says the company will continue to implement this strategy as it has paid dividends: They have plans of opening more branches, with Dubai’s friendly policies keeping businesses incentivised so they can make good profits.

And the diversity of that not-so-big team paid off: A small but tight-knit group of eight nationalities, learning from each other, running daily operations as one cohesive unit.

“Diversity helps improve operations by balancing the needs and opinions of people,” head barista Umesh Lama, from Bangladesh, said.

The encouragement helps the team treat a challenging day in a positive way, he added.

“It’s good to know each others’ culture, behaviour and skills because there will be strong teamwork. Sharing is caring.”

— alvin@khaleejtimes.com

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