In 2022, we have come farther than ever in respecting, acknowledging, supporting, and celebrating different cultural identities. We have categories on online shops that advertise businesses that are specifically women-led, black-owned, and LGBTQ+-friendly. We have laws and regulations in place that protect different groups of people from discrimination in the workplace and it seems like everywhere you turn, there are discussions, thinkpieces, and advocates to continue this upward momentum.
It’s exciting and it gives up hope for what’s to come. The work doesn’t just start and end with the big, important things like marches, protests, and signing laws. It starts at home, at work, and in the personal lives of every person.
Cultural competence is defined as the ability to understand, appreciate, and interact with people of cultures and belief systems that are different from one’s own. In short, it’s being clued into what makes people different based on their race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc., and understanding how that affects the things around you.
And remember, “understanding” is not “othering.” Being aware of those differences does not mean you need to or should treat anyone differently. It’s about awareness. Seeing the truth and accepting it.
You may feel reluctant to even acknowledge these differences, let alone talk openly about them, but I promise, it’s worth it.
Here are five reasons Cultural Awareness is Crucial in the Workplace.
Being culturally aware does not mean connecting everything every moment of every day to race, gender, etc. It means knowing the realities of your own identity and how that affects things around you.
This is going to sound harsh, but it’s true: you’re not going to get any medals or awards for bringing cultural awareness to your workplace. It might bring up some tough conversations and you might even have to make changes around the workplace to accommodate for a lack of awareness. Whether it’s physical work or work within oneself and your team to instill better cultural awareness, there will likely be more work before there’s less.
I touched on this point in number 2, but I’ll hammer it home just a little more. Cultural awareness is more than how “woke” you look to the consumer. It’s about the heart of your organization and how you take care of the people that keep it running. Cultural sensitivity is the backbone of a healthy organization.
Be aware of how different cultures and backgrounds communicate differently, encourage willingness to learn, and be honest about the consequences of failing to be considerate of those differences. Rifts between coworkers can not only affect productivity but morale, too.
Like I said before, bringing cultural awareness to your workplace is future-proofing your company. It’s not just staying stagnant, but opening your company up to new knowledge, new experiences, and welcoming new people will help your company grow like never before!
There are so many different types of people in the world and there are so many ambitious, unique, and talented people that you’ll have the privilege to connect with through your career. Keeping everyone involved, making everyone feel safe, understood, and included is crucial in creating a productive, but most of all welcoming workplace. Learn more about what Embracing Cultural Awareness looks like from the experts at ASAP.
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