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What’s Cooking? | How BSH India Serves as a Cultural Melting pot

What’s Cooking? | How BSH India Serves as a Cultural Melting pot

Reading time: 5 minutes

Cultural resilience is the ability of companies, teams, and individuals to deal with change and continue to develop. Naturally, a diverse staff is a company’s biggest asset: Employees bringing in their individual and varied strengths improve workflows, processes, and creativity in every division. But how can managers and teams fortify their cultural resilience? To help better understand why cultural resilience is so important in the work environment, we checked in with our teams from multicultural India.

With a population of over 1.4 billion1, India is home to a staggering array of languages, religions, and customs. This not only makes it one of the most culturally diverse places to grow up in but also the perfect place for cultural resilience to develop. People have learned to adapt their cultural practices in response to changes while still keeping their core values and practices. “Having grown up in this diverse environment, it gives us new perspectives in terms of how we need to do certain things, improve certain areas, or do things better,” says Tanuja Upadhye, Head of Legal at BSH in India. Mohan Vijayalaya, UX Owner BSH India from Bangalore, continues, “We are all from different parts of the country, so a lot of us speak more than two languages.” Working with people from different cultures and with different backgrounds every day broadens the horizon – and helps people to think outside the box.
What brings people together in such a varied setting? “We connect over food! Food in India is so diverse, that every 200 kilometers (about 124.27 mi) you will have a different kind of cooking, with different flavors and different tastes,” explains Ajaz Vakil, Product Marketing Category Lead from Mumbai. From creamy tomato-based butter chicken to fragrant biryani rice, to dosa (a crispy pancake made from fermented rice and lentil batter) the variations of Indian dishes are endless. The connection between cultural resilience and the mouth-watering tastes of Indian food may leave some wondering. India’s diverse food is emblematic of our diverse staff at BSH which enables us to be open to change and that helps us to further develop. 
Develop new Approaches to Problem-Solving
Diverse backgrounds can manifest themselves in many ways, such as language, religion, age, profession – and food preferences: (strictly) vegetarian, vegan, meat but no pork and everything beyond… The teams of Mohan, Tanuja and Ajaz seem to have it all covered. “I’m lucky to have team members from each of the zones in India’s South, North, East, and West. And to make it even more interesting, all of them have different religious backgrounds – Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Sikh,” says Ajaz. “We also have a mix of young and old people,” Ajaz continues. 
“Our interns really bring in life and energy,” adds Tanuja, pointing at the youngest member of the group. “She keeps me on my toes for sure!” she adds with a laugh. 
The team members are exposed to different perspectives, ideas, and ways of doing things every day, which allows them to learn from each other and develop new approaches to problem-solving. In this way, the team’s diversity contributes to its resilience and ability to navigate challenges [SC1] effectively.
Bringing Varied Staff Together Ensures Authenticity
Working in a diverse team gives BSH access to a wider range of perspectives, experiences, and practices, helping our employees develop new skills and ideas, enhancing team dynamics and decision-making. And sometimes, it helps add authenticity to projects and products. Several years ago, Ajaz’s team was tasked to create a recipe book for consumers with food from different regions of India. To give the book a high level of authenticity, he brought team members from various parts of the country together to add their special recipes: India contributed dishes such as roti, naan, and paratha, with rich curries and yogurt-based gravies. East India – rice as the staple food – added machher jhol and shorshe ilish to the list. Coconut and spices like curry leaves, mustard seeds, and chillies are the basis of South Indian dishes such as idli, dosa, and sambar. And the West, strongly influenced by the Gujarati, Rajasthani, and Maharashtrian regions, provided recipes for dishes like dhokla, vada pav, and thalipeeth, with wheat, millet, and lentils as ingredients.   “Combining the culinary traditions from all parts of the country, the book was a great success”, says Ajaz with a smile.
Speaking the Same Language is a Connection
Tanuja believes that multiculturalism also affects the more personal aspects at work. Being home to 22 officially recognized and hundreds of further languages, not to mention the number of regional dialects, people immediately feel more connected when they speak a shared language in India – which highlights the value of having team members from all kinds of backgrounds in the workplace. Tanuja remembers how one of her colleagues was approached by another employee because they happened to both speak Tamil. The employee was sadly experiencing family conflicts at the time and was seeking legal advice. It was the first time that this person felt free enough to talk to a lawyer. “Knowing that someone’s life changed because someone in our team spoke their language – to me, that was something that really touched me”, says Tanuja. “Not to mention, the employee looked at the legal department as a place that can help them in a difficult situation, so it really connected them to the organization.” 
Cultural resilience also means staying true to cultural identity and traditions, even when things get tough, like moving to a new place or starting a new job. “I think there has to be conscious effort within the team to bring people on board like speaking a common language such as English”, Mohan reports from his experience. Tanuja, however, points out that communication has never been an issue within her team: “If anything, our idiosyncrasies bring us together. We get to sample different cuisines and celebrate different festivals. It's always been fun.”
Experiencing Different Cultures Requires Open-mindedness
“When you eat diverse food, you are open to trying new things and experiencing different cultures through cuisine. Similarly, when you show cultural resilience, you are open to learning about and accepting different cultural practices and beliefs”, says Tanuja. Both involve a willingness to step outside of the comfort zone and being open to new experiences. This helps gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of different cultures, which can help foster unity and respect among diverse communities at the workplace. 
A diverse work culture requires embracing the deliciously varied “flavors” each team has to offer. Allowing employees to “come as they are” to help them feel seen – and create a sense of belonging. For Ajaz, Mohan, and Tanuja food is a great way to connect and strengthen their team’s cultural resilience: Sharing favorite dishes, trying new foods, and celebrating their differences while building a sense of belonging and community in the workplace. This is what makes staff enjoy their work – while learning from and growing with each other – making diverse cultural backgrounds an absolute asset for BSH.

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BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, with a total turnover of some EUR 15.6 billion and 62,000 employees in 2022, is a global leader in the home appliance industry. The company’s brand portfolio includes eleven well-known appliance brands like Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff as well as the ecosystem brand Home Connect and service brands like Kitchen Stories. BSH produces at 40 factories and is represented in some 50 countries. BSH is a Bosch Group company.