Jun 27 2018
Kristen Evans
2 Minutes to read

You might not think office catering is on the front lines of shifting company culture, but what’s on the menu can have an outsized impact on cultural diversity in the workplace. Whether you want to honor the backgrounds and tastes of your coworkers, or make visitors more comfortable, diverse foods can improve company culture by making it more inclusive and by helping employees learn about different cultures.

According to the U.S. census, population diversity in America is increasing exponentially—and minority-owned businesses are growing fast, too. While many companies have only just started to address our shifting workforce, a healthy dialogue about cultural diversity in the workplace will determine the success of companies for years to come. Office food culture can be an important part of this conversation. In Finland, for example, a new state recommendation suggests caregivers organize “ethnic food” themes every week during daycare. Researchers behind the recommendation argue that exposure to different foods reduces hostility to unfamiliar things and defuses confrontational attitudes—all lessons that can easily transfer to the office.

Employers have the power to strengthen cultural diversity in the workplace by fostering cross-cultural awareness and celebrating diversity at work through food. All it takes is re-examining your go-to caterers. Here are 6 global cuisines you can try instead of ordering pizza—we promise your employees will welcome the change.

1. Indian

If upper management is razor-focused on how to improve company culture, consider a tried-and-true approach to fostering employee relationships: the working lunch. Spicy curries, soft naan, and samosas are perfect for lunch meetings—plus many Indian caterers make it easy to order for your vegetarian colleagues, too. Setting up your lunch buffet style encourages mingling and helps employees learn more about one another before getting down to business.

2. Ethiopian

New York City, Washington, D.C., and Midwestern cities like Minneapolis have seen an explosive growth of Ethiopian residents. To foster cultural diversity in the workplace, say goodbye to brisket and BBQ, and hello to injera, a spongy round bread made from teff flour, and mesir wot, a spicy red lentil stew. There’s plenty of options for vegetarian and vegan eaters, too.

3. Vietnamese

Vietnamese Beef Pho

How your CEO decides to improve company culture or foster diversity in the workplace can impact the entire team, from sales reps to management. As an office manager, you can make your lunch-and-learn meetings more inclusive by ditching sandwiches for banh mi, or soup and salad for pho. Vietnamese cuisine is fresh, packed with flavor, and vegetarian-friendly. It’s perfect for a light lunch meeting or after-work social.

4. Latin American

Go beyond “Taco Tuesdays” with a menu that truly celebrates cultural diversity in the workplace. Think tamales, barbacoa, or Cuban picadillo. And for vegetarian or vegan diets, opt for a rich hominy stew or arepas with black beans.

5. Mediterranean

Mediterrnean Gyros Bowl

Wondering how to improve company culture? Design events that promote teamwork, make goals and policy more transparent, or recognize employees for their contributions. After all, what better way to celebrate hitting sales targets than throwing a Mediterranean feast? Falafel, baba ganoush with roasted vegetables, and cucumber salad with fresh feta are festive but cost-effective meals that also cater to the vegetarian crowd.

6. Japanese

You might think ordering Japanese cuisine for the office limits you to sushi, but think again. From Japanese hot pot to noodle dishes, like udon, soba, and ramen, Japanese cuisine offers an array of quick, healthy, and delicious meals. Whether you’re hosting a summit with the Tokyo office or simply want to shake up your weekly order, a local Japanese caterer can help you foster cultural diversity in the workplace kitchen.

Want to learn more about how to create a welcoming company culture?

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Written by:

Kristen Evans

Kristen Evans has written copy for national snack brands and covered food for outlets like Extra Crispy, a TIME vertical devoted to all things breakfast. She’s worked countless shifts as a waitress and a wedding caterer and now writes for BuzzFeed and The Los Angeles Times. Learn more at www.kristen-evans.com.

Posted in: Food at WorkOffice Management

Tagged with: American, Company Culture, Events and Meetings, Healthy, Training Engagement, Vegetarian