Becoming Culturally Competent

Diversity and inclusion involve more than just expanding and revamping your corporate culture; it’s about developing a continuous business strategy with cultural competence built in the foundation. Cultural competence is the combination of cultural knowledge (awareness of cultural characteristics, history, values, beliefs, and behaviors), awareness (openness to cultural change and perception), and sensitivity (acknowledgment of cultural differences but absent of judgment, i.e., one culture is superior to another) through business efficiencies.

The United States is forecasted to become a “majority-minority” by 2043, meaning that “ore than 50 percent of the population will identify as belonging to an ethnic minority group or any group other than non-Hispanic white.” Cultural competency is the key to developing a more robust organization by increasing respect, collaboration, engagement, trust, and productivity, as well as decreasing workplace conflicts, stigmatization, and retaliation.

Promoting Cultural and Global Education and Resources

To determine what your cultural incompetencies are, you should conduct a comprehensive cultural competence assessment of your business. Cultural competency assessments can address the needs and interests of your employees and develop a long-term strategy that may address company values and mission, policies and procedures, and overall structure and best practices. Collecting invaluable free resources and partnering with organizations can assist you in promoting cultural and global education within your organization. For example, a local cultural chamber of commerce, such as the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, may offer unique services to its clients, such as bilingual customer service, and long-standing relationships with Hispanic-owned businesses that may face unique challenges for which your organization can assist.

Surveying your staff and researching what kinds of organizations they hold memberships or volunteer with can provide valuable insights to your employees. For example, you might ask, “What are the cultural, language, racial, and ethnic groups within the area served by this organization?” Employee responses may vary, which can present an overview of problem areas or commonalities in the way your employees think or observe the workplace.

Fostering Healthy Communications and Engagement

A great way to approach developing healthy communications and employee engagement is utilizing the ABCD surveying method. It observes the foundation of what, how, and why people think or act the way that they do.

“A” stands for attitude. Exploring the attitudes and values of employees can shed light on communication preferences, diverse backgrounds, perspectives of business efficiencies, and how people react in different situations.

“B” stands for beliefs. Beliefs can range from religious to political to individual moral compasses. Understanding different beliefs that exist in the workplace can help guide communications. Whether you’re trying to come up with a witty subject line for better engagement or preparing a presentation, be mindful of the varying degree of beliefs and carefully review any jokes, comments, or explanations to ensure there are no misconceptions or room for insensitivity.

“C” stands for context. Make sure that what you’re communicating is delivered through the proper channels, on an acceptable timeline, and in a way that speaks to your intended audience. For example, how you communicate with your employees versus how you communicate with your clients is going to be different.

“D” stands for decision-making. Understanding how your employees make decisions and how their thought or problem-solving process may differ can assist you in navigating proper decision-making strategies. For example, as the employer, you may value an in-depth explanation of why a business decision is made to support company transparency. However, an employee may see it as unnecessary and unprofessional to share business decision-making details.

Robin Paggi, Training Coordinator at Worklogic HR – a VensureHR partner, is hosting a “Becoming Culturally Competent” webinar discussing what cultural competence is, gaining awareness of an individual’s cultural worldview, determining an individual’s attitude toward cultural differences, increasing knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and developing cross-cultural skills. If you have any questions regarding cultural competence or need assistance with culture-related issues in the workplace, please contact VensureHR. Our team of seasoned HR specialists can provide you with industry best practices, resources, and around-the-clock customer service to guarantee your business is equipped to develop and evolve with cultural competence.




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Building Culturally Competent Organizations

Unconscious Bias: What We Learned from Starbucks

On April 12, 2018, two young African American men were waiting at a Pennsylvania Starbucks for a meeting to begin when the Starbucks store manager requested police to remove them because they did not order anything. The two men were arrested and removed from the location in handcuffs. After a video of the incident went viral, Starbucks received nationwide backlash. The reaction to the incident prompted the entire franchise to close its 8,000 doors across the United States for an Anti-Bias Training and transform its ethos. Seeking advice and recommendations from various experts, Starbucks aimed to revitalize its third core value: the “third place” – a place of community and belonging.

Unconscious bias is processing information based on unconscious associations or feelings.  While unconscious bias is not a new or revolutionizing topic in the workplace, 2020 is going to place an emphasis on managers and leaders to incite change to organizational culture towards diversity and inclusivity. The focus will likely lean on the impact of affinity and fender biases in the workplace.

An amalgamation of different perspectives and experiences representative of the communities that organizations serve is the core purpose of diversity in the workplace. Understanding how bias influences workplace decisions can assist business leaders in addressing and reducing bias.

Addressing Bias

The first step in addressing bias is identifying it. There are different types of bias that can appear in the workplace, such as affinity bias (the unconscious tendency to connect with others similar to oneself) and unconscious bias (social stereotypes of groups of people without conscious awareness). Providing education and training on such biases can help individuals recognize their own biases, take appropriate steps to remove bias, and continue understanding the way bias is formed and continued.

Some ways to help reduce bias is implementing HR technology and best practices. For example, investing in an artificial intelligence (AI) program can help remove unconscious bias. However, special training should be provided for those maintaining the AI program(s) as human bias can be incorporated into the AI programs. Another HR strategy and best practice is establishing interview standardization. Oftentimes interview questions can be subject to scrutiny, such as questions that may involve gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or other protected classes under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations.

Preparing for a Multigenerational Workforce

There are five or more generations in the workforce varying from Baby Boomers to Generation Z. Each generation presents different advantages and disadvantages. For example, Baby Boomers are likely to have more work experience in their respective industries, whereas Generation Z may bring innovative technological strategies. It is important for businesses to prepare for the multigenerational workforce and the demands of such generations. Reskilling or upskilling, employee wellness, flexible work arrangements, new and upgrading technology and software, and developing a well-rounded corporate culture are some of the hot topics in multigenerational workforces.

Welcoming Differences

From gender identity and expression to political thought, celebrating differences in culture and backgrounds can assist in promoting diverse and inclusive workplaces. As social change movements and events continue to rise, it is imperative for businesses to be prepared to respond. Updating employee handbooks and company policies and procedures regarding harassment and discrimination, code of conduct, and code of ethics to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion should be a priority. Incorporating and/or investing in education and training can offer best practices for making the workplace more inclusive and socially sensitive.

Other topics, such as compensation reporting, board representation, harassment and discrimination analysis, promotions, and other performance management practices are equity-based issues that demand higher transparency in the workplace.

Robin Paggi, Training Coordinator at Worklogic HR – a VensureHR partner, hosted an “Unconscious Bias Training: What We Learned from Starbucks” webinar discussing the definition of unconscious bias, lessons learned from Starbucks, updating training, policies, and procedures, and building a diverse workforce. For more information or questions you may have regarding bias, training, and/or resources related to implementing and improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, please contact VensureHR. Our HR representatives possess industry-leading best practices, resources, and HR services to ensure your business is efficiently and effectively prepared for any social issue that may arise in the workplace.


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