Part two of a two-part series
In our last BCT Partners blog, we gave an overview of cultural competency as well as the necessity for organizations to embrace it and make it a crucial part of their DNA. As Key Higgins Bigelow, LivingHR states, “We expect to see a greater and intentional focus on the human at the center of work. There is an awakening happening due to the pandemic and societal injustices that are inspiring more leaders and cultures to take a brand stand that puts humans first. People leaders that back up their brand stand with actions will result in creating better business outcomes and, at the same time, support overall well-being.”
So, you’re convinced, but now comes the hard part, how do you actually make this transition? There are three main steps that your organization can use to begin the journey.
The first and most crucial step is to evaluate your company's current situation. There are tools that you can use, or you can hire an expert to do the assessment. Either way, you need a clear understanding of your workforce's ability to work with people of different nationalities, ethnicities, languages, and religions. You need to start with your baseline and then have a candid conversation with your employees about what needs to be done next and ensure that you set tangible goals. Enable your employees to provide feedback and make suggestions as you will need their full support to make your program work effectively long-term.
The next step is to train your leadership team so that they can set the best example. No program will work if the senior leaders do not buy into the importance and become role models. Employees will see through that immediately. In fact, a recent survey showed that only 44% of employees say their company’s diversity and inclusion efforts feel sincere.
After the executives and departmental directors are fully engaged, then begin training the remaining employees. Encourage their active participation by asking them to share real-life examples and have them break out into small teams for role plays and other activities. The best way for someone to understand fully is to have them immersed in the process and learn by understanding different perspectives. The more employees empathize with each other, the more likely your program with succeed and endure.
After training, the next stage is to put a plan into action with tangible goals and begin measuring the results. It's also an excellent opportunity for your employees to collaborate on ways to make the cultural shift. Start by asking for volunteers who would like to be part of a small team that will spearhead the process. Solicit their feedback for ways to embed cultural diversity into your organization. Allow them to meet and brainstorm and come back with suggestions. To get the conversation started, provide some examples of ways to embrace cultural differences, such as employee affinity groups, a yearly calendar of global holidays, or in-person or virtual pot-luck dinners where employees bring a traditional dish to the event. The possibilities are numerous, but the crucial thing is to get the team to embrace a few ideas they believe in and then enlist their fellow employees. Continue to ask for feedback through surveys, an employee intranet, or a suggestion box. Ask your CEO or other leaders to host regular meetings where employees are encouraged to have candid conversations about what works and what doesn’t.
The workplace has changed dramatically over the last several years. Employees expect their organizations to take a stand on social issues and to speak out about injustice. And that includes committing to making company culture more inclusive of individual employees. However, a company that doesn't get their own house in order first will never convince their employees that their efforts are sincere. So, if you want to effectively compete in a global economy and attract customers and multi-cultural employees, you need to embrace cultural competency fully.
Contact BCT Partners for information about how we can help you get started.