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Creating a Culturally Competent and Inclusive Workplace

Effectively developing and incorporating diversity and inclusion in the workplace has been a long-standing challenge businesses face. The greatest obstacle has been obtaining business tools and initiatives to combat biases and promoting respect, appreciation, and recognition of employees. While companies have made great strides, such as incorporating meditation or prayer rooms, nursing rooms for new mothers, gender-neutral bathrooms, and celebrating all religious and cultural holidays, it also opens the door to feedback and gateways to improving existing policies and procedures.

Here are some tips for creating a culturally competent and inclusive workplace.

Fostering Meaningful Connections

The first step in becoming culturally competent and inclusive is understanding unconscious bias and group thinks. Unconscious bias is prejudice or judgment of a person or group based on an individual’s past experiences and background.[1] Groupthink is a group of individuals making irrational choices based on the ideation of conformity or inability to think for one’s self.[2] Unconscious bias and group thinks can cause strains on building meaningful connections between employees. Leaders should encourage and recognize different perspectives and highlight the positive experiences people of different backgrounds, faiths, and identities can bring to the organization.

Addressing Real-Time Recognition Practices

First and foremost, there should be a formal process for expressing gratitude to your employees. For example, creating a tracking system to mitigate unconscious bias. It can aid in promoting appreciation companywide, but also present data to leaders regarding which employees are being consistently recognized and which ones are not. Through measurement and analysis of such data, employers can hold themselves accountable for initiating changes in recognition practices if needed.

Another way to combat unconscious bias and overlooked employees is removing the hierarchy from performance reviews. Rather than looking to managers and higher-up leaders to provide recognition, encouraging peer-to-peer recognition can establish a positive workplace where all voices are heard and appreciated. This can also help deter unconscious bias and ensure all individuals feel included and promoted.

Ongoing Training, Education, and Resources

Sensitivity training is an integral component of creating a more inclusive workplace and establishing cultural competence. However, most businesses invest in a one-time training and expect cultural issues to dissolve. As society changes and adapts to different cultural atmospheres, it is imperative for business owners to shift with them. To do so, investing in ongoing training, education, and resources can ensure you and your staff stay up to date on the latest HR and cultural trends. It’s likely that the 2018 Starbucks incident in Philadelphia and George Floyd incident will not be the last of their kind to occur. Be proactive in problem solving and decision-making by researching and incorporating a variety of sensitivity trainings, education, and resources.

Harbor America, with its Vensure partners, recently hosted a series of webinars that focused on sensitivity in the workplace. Our third webinar, “Becoming Culturally Competent” discussed cultural issues in the workplace, best practices to address them, and ways to prevent it. To learn more about how Harbor America can guarantee your employee handbook is up to date and your company policies and procedures remain compliant, contact us today. We have industry-leading human resource management services and specialists who can assist with locating resources, recommending trainings, and provide excellent customer service support to guide you along the way.



How to Create a More Inclusive Workplace Culture


[1] Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Unconscious Bias

[2] Psychology Today: Groupthink

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