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Cultural Competence in the Workplace

Updated on May 31, 2016

Cultural Diversity

The dimensions of diversity are made up by two sub-categories: primary dimensions and secondary dimensions. Primary dimensions are “fixed and relevant to an individual’s identity: age, gender, mental and physical abilities, race, ethnic heritage, sexual orientation” (Schaefer, R.) Secondary dimensions are less concrete and are, “less central to one’s social identity” (Schaefer, R.). Some examples of secondary dimensions are living area, employment record, earnings, faith or belief system and schooling history.

The definition of cultural diversity reflects the need to recognize the impact of multiple dimensions of diversity. For example, a white male worker may appear to lack diversity, but his health problems, religion, sexual orientation, and/or age may be diversity issues for him. Often, in the workplace, people have salient differences that may be important to their organizational experiences. In today’s highly competitive global workplace, organizations must do all that they can to adapt their management policies and practices to the changing needs of the twenty-first-century worker (Harvey, C & Allard, J).


Enjoy different cultures

Growing up in Southern California I was exposed to a variety of diverse cultures. I had friends and acquaintances of all walks of life. I still make friends easily without regard to ethnic background, cultural differences, religious views, or sexual orientation. People are just people and I value the similarities I can find with different groups I be-friend as well as the differences our cultures share. Celebrating diversity makes for interesting interactions. The area that I currently reside in is 95 % Caucasian, the unusual exchanges I have enjoyed in the past may not be commonplace in the future in this area. The diverse upbringing I was fortunate to receive is not provided to everyone. I cannot imagine growing up in a small town all white area, without any culture difference. My present social circle consists of immediate and extended family members and church relationships made through worship service, mixed Bible studies, woman’s Bible study and people I meet through middle school mentorship. The people within my group consist of White Christian mostly female with the exception of the mixed Bible study where couples attend.

Ethnic, gender, racial, and socioeconomic variety

The definition of cultural diversity is “ethnic, gender, racial, and socioeconomic variety in a situation, institution, or group; the coexistence of different ethnic, gender, racial, and socioeconomic groups within one social unit” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cultural+diversity). The definition of inclusion as defined by dictionary.com, “Inclusion is the act of including.” In an inclusive environment a diverse group of people feel free and safe to express themselves, creative and innovative ideas can be born compared to the environment that is not inclusive the workers and students would be less willing to share their valuable experiences and insights. Diversity is the differences and similarities between the people involved in a group and inclusion is involving those people by making them believe they are included. Inclusion also has to do with how the work or school atmosphere is intentionally structured to promote a safe situation to work and learn. “While there is no universal agreement about what workplace diversity means, for the purposes of this text we define diversity as the ways in which people differ that may affect their organizational experience in terms of performance, motivation, communication and inclusion” (Harvey, C & Allard, J) Creating company customs that ensures each employee a comparable sense of positive reception, public recognition of approval and inclusion of the employees skills requires the needed component’s of administration multiplicity, planned and tactical circumstance, and good policy.

Diversity program

A good quality workplace diversity program is important for many reasons. It brings awareness of cultural similarities and differences, cultural taboos, and helps people realize their fellow employee’s point of view. A diversity program also educates staff of individual civil rights and informs them of their necessary duties and responsibilities concerning civil rights. “Failure to be sensitive to the varying mores and societal taboos other cultures uphold, may indeed lead to problems at the jobsite with simple misunderstandings or even willful pranks can lead to lawsuits against the employer for potential civil rights violations” (Cochran, S) A company or organization that shows concern for diversity challenges and focuses on employee inclusion taps into a group of employees which have high skill sets that have been undervalued or properly used. “We found that the major reason organizations strive to incorporate diversity is to improve productivity and to remain competitive with the bottom line being to increase profits” (Wentling, R.).

Diversity and inclusion

The workplace experience that this writer has been exposed to is largely governmental work. Civil rights is a mandated course that is a high priority for all new employees to complete, and an annual requirement for all employees to maintain. Civil rights is a huge area for the Local County and state government employers to ensure that individuals are not breaking laws of fellow employees or infringing on client’s rights that, said agencies serve. However, the whole diversity training sometimes felt like lip service. The value of diversity and Inclusion programs through my experience remain unclear. Did the trainings really help people feel included, accepted and valued? I sometimes wonder if there is a proverbial score card and the well meaning concept sits among the other agendas waiting for completion and is systematically checked off as one more item that is simply concluded.“If Americans define freedom as autonomy and mobility, Europeans concentrate on inclusivity and they feel free only when they see that others in their communities are free, too”(Schaefer, S)

References

Cochran, S (2011). About Diversity Training in the Workplace. Retrieved March 5, 2011

Dictionary.com (2011). Cultural Diversity and Inclusion. Retrieved March 4, 2011

Harvey, C & Allard, J (2009). Understanding and Managing Diversity: Readings, Cases, and Exercises, Fourth Edition. Page 1

Schaefer, R.T.(2011). Racial and Ethnic groups(12th ed.) Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson

Schaefer, S (2008).Everyone is Included...All People, All Places, All Way, Inclusion Quote ’08. Retrieved March 5, 2011

Wentling, R.M. (2011). Diversity Initiatives in the Workplace. Retrieved from March 5, 2011

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    • k2jade31 profile image
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      Kimberly Shelden 5 years ago from Idaho

      Thank you for reading, I feel honored that you like the hub.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Great commentary and observations about the benefits of workplace diversity. I am now looking back on previous employment positions to compare the diversity, or lack thereof, and my job satisfaction. Very interesting!