Cultural awareness, safety, and competence and their Impact on leadership and management practice
Cultural awareness refers to having knowledge and understanding of the existence of cultural differences between people and remaining sensitive to them. It is the acknowledgment of cross-cultural differences. On the other hand, cultural safety is actions that respect a person’s unique cultural identity. People observing cultural safety work from other’s cultural perspectives and not from theirs. Cultural competence goes beyond becoming aware of cultural disparities to appreciating, understanding, and accepting the cultural differences.
Cultural diversity is a critical component of the workplace following the increasingly diverse workforce. The leadership and management team in every organization today have a role to develop a culturally sensitive environment that will support a diverse workforce. Culture affects workers’ expectations, communication styles, decision-making, and the overall performance of an organization. The leadership and management practice has a mandate to develop, promote, and adopt culturally sensitive policies and procedures that create a culturally safe environment for everyone. They ensure that the organization’s workforce has cultural awareness and embraces cultural safety. The management and leadership practicing cultural competence, safety, and awareness deliver culturally competent services to the organization.
The concept of diversity has attracted academic interest from scholars in organizations and management practices. Literature offers a wide range of definitions of diversity based on contexts. My definition of diversity would be differences among individuals which could be based on gender, religion, geographical area, viewpoints and ideas, socio-economic, political, and life experiences. The differences among people based on their backgrounds, life experiences, and other perspectives result in the notion of diversity.
People’s diverse characteristics encountered in the modern workplace
- Sexual orientation.
- Socio-economic status.
- Life experiences.
- Academic and professional backgrounds.
- Political affiliation.
Encouraging acceptance of diversity in work practices and service delivery: Leaders and Managers
Leadership and management are crucial in strengthening the acceptance of diversity by building a supportive workplace through diversity-friendly policies and providing diverse opportunities that appreciate every employee. They should role-model the diversity values, uphold and enforce them throughout the organization’s work practices and communications. Another strategy for leaders and managers to promote diversity acceptance in organizations is to recognize everyone’s accomplishments despite their status or ranking.
Importance of Suspending own cultural assumptions when working with colleagues and clients from diverse backgrounds
Increased globalization causes people to work within multicultural teams. Organizations that consist of members with cultural differences face several challenges including discrimination, stigma, and stereotyping due to cultural assumptions. Employees need to suspend their cultural assumptions because it helps them focus on shared values and assumptions to promote productivity. Suspending own cultural assumptions helps suspend judgment and promotes understanding and embracing of others’ differences. As a result, employees maintain a positive workplace culture because of the built cultural safety. Cultural assumptions suspension is a type of structural intervention that works among colleagues and clients from diverse backgrounds. It is a method used by teams to reduce friction among members. Suspending own cultural assumptions and adopting shared assumptions among clients reduces conflict and creates a conducive environment for collaboration.
Legal and ethical considerations for diversity practices at a management level
- Freedom from exploitation, violence, and abuse; Articles 16 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- Age discrimination Act 2004.
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984.
- Issues of responsibility, ACA code of ethics.
- Responsibility to client, ACA code of ethics.
- Confidentiality, ACA code of ethics.
- Anti-discriminatory practice, ACA code of ethics.
Benefits of a diverse workforce
- Competitive advantage.
- Greater variety in experience and knowledge.
- Enhances organizational justice and inclusion.
- Discrimination reduction.
- Promotes creativity and workplace openness.
- Promotes organizational management improvement.
- Maximize profits and productivity.
- Creates a conducive workplace environment that attracts and retain an organization’s stakeholders.
- Enhances problem-solving skills and critical thinking.
- Improves culture of work through shared experiences.
Direct and what is indirect discrimination
Discrimination is a common vice in the workplace with employees facing either direct or indirect forms of discrimination. The former form of discrimination happens when an individual is treated less favorably than other people because of a protected characteristic. Direct discrimination also happens when someone is treated unfairly compared to others because of his or her association with an individual of a protected characteristic. It is also possible for one to face unfair treatment for being perceived to be of a particular protected characteristic which could be age, gender, sexual orientation, social status among other characteristics. Indirect discrimination is where a service provider or employer applies practices and policies to everyone but a group of people is disadvantaged by those policies because of a protected characteristic.
Examples of direct discrimination include when an employer denies a candidate a job opportunity because she is a female and allows a male with lower qualifications. Another example is denying an employee a promotion opportunity because they belong to a particular political affiliation while promoting others who have the same credentials. If a manager thinks that you are gay and denies you leave and gives others, then this is direct discrimination. Denying a worker an opportunity to participate in a project despite meeting the requirements because he is a Muslim is direct discrimination.
An Indirect discrimination example includes stating in a job advertisement that only applicants with more than 10 years of experience are viable. An organization has a policy that requires employees to work on Saturdays when there are Adventists in the company. Another case of indirect discrimination is having a requirement where only employees with English as the first language qualify to apply for a promotion. An organization with a policy that denies pregnant women employment is an indirect form of discrimination.
Ensuring clients’ accessibility to effective and equitable activities
Organizations must protect their clients’ welfare and safety by ensuring that they are not treated unfairly when seeking services from employees. As a support worker dealing with people with a disability, I can prevent discrimination among my clients by ensuring that all clients have access to equitable and effective activities. First, I can promote regular updating of the practices and requirements in my organization to prevent discrimination chances. Encouraging and allowing clients to raise discrimination concerns promotes a discrimination-free environment. I can ensure fairness by promoting the same standards on clients despite their differences.
Creating awareness and educating my clients on discrimination empowers them and ensures that they demand fair treatment when accessing services. Responding to any form of discrimination in an organization promotes non-discriminatory practices and leads to equitable access to services by clients. A fundamental way to promote effective and equitable access to activities is promoting a non-discriminatory culture within the organization by encouraging workers to treat clients fairly and developing policies that prohibit unfairness and injustice. As a support worker, I can remain a role model to other support workers when dealing with clients and encourage the former to embrace fairness and equity in their service delivery.
Possible barriers to inclusivity that could be encountered in community service providing organizations
Support workers face numerous inclusivity barriers in their commitment to community service. According to Cletus, Mahmood, Umar & Ibrahim (2018), the barriers include; inaccessible systems of communication, conflicting interests or policies, lack of cooperation between the symbols of authority, profiling which targets specific group, bureaucracy, attitudinal barriers, internalized barriers causing the disabled to disengage themselves from any participation in society, and inadequate data and statistics impending understanding on the inclusion of the disabled in societies.
Valuable cross-cultural communication strategies in a community service facility
Managing cross-cultural communication requires several strategies among them; building cultural intelligence blocks to deal with people’s cultural assumptions, exploration of cultural differences to develop cultural awareness, building stronger relationships, observing clients’ communication styles and patterns, using visuals for aiding communication, mastery of keywords use by clients to show appreciation and convey respect, adopting flexibility and practicing patience, active listening, building trust and rapport, and promoting open-mindedness.
Principles and practices that support inclusivity; types of planning and work practice supporting Acceptance and acknowledgment of diversity
Inclusivity is critical in community service delivery. It can be supported through the promotion of several principles and practices including equality integration, acknowledgment of people’s uniqueness, and remaining sensitive to people’s differences. Inclusivity demands collaboration and flexibility where people are open to change. The creation of channels and opportunities to promote diversity awareness supports inclusivity. A participatory approach to planning is a type of planning that promotes diversity acceptance and acknowledgment. This practice ensures that all stakeholders in the community service have a voice and ownership of the designed project.
Participatory planning creates mutual respect and commitment among stakeholders. An interdisciplinary team approach is a work practice that creates understanding between stakeholders. A team approach brings together people who are willing to participate in community service and are ready to embrace the cultural disparities of others. The approach enhances the non-hierarchical relationship and shared responsibility which is fundamental among social supporters in promoting community service. A shared power and leadership form of planning is ideal to promote diversity acceptance. This form of planning creates participative safety and nurtures consensus. A team culture protects and preserves diversity.
Analysis of a workplace practice to determine whether it matches workplace objectives in relation to diversity
A workplace practice should meet several standards to match diverse workplace objectives. Practices should promote acceptance and respect for diversity among employees. The practice should foster a positive and safe environment by promoting cultural safety. It should embrace rich diversity dimensions from each individual. An effective practice curbs discrimination and stereotypes. It helps people to recognize the existence of diversity and respect people’s cultural differences. It should support the suspension of people’s cultural assumptions to promote cultural intelligence and match objectives.
Cletus, H. E., Mahmood, N. A., Umar, A., & Ibrahim, A. D. (2018). Prospects and challenges of workplace diversity in modern-day organizations: A critical review. HOLISTICA–Journal of Business and Public Administration, 9(2), 35-52.