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Embracing Diversity in the Workplace

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 9:00 AM

Hot Topics, Practice Operations

Written by: Gina Kaspar, Laurie Brown

From left, Director of Human Resources and Finance Gina Kaspar and Senior Consultant Laurie Brown

Given the current state of domestic affairs, cultural diversity awareness and inclusion are critical areas of focus. Practices can choose to embrace these shifts as an opportunity to do better, learn from the unfortunate events that have transpired, and create a more inclusive environment for employees and patients. The goal is to have everyone feeling welcomed, appreciated, and respected in the practice.

We can no longer stand idly, doing nothing when it comes to diversity awareness and inclusion. Rather, taking proactive steps to institute a cultural diversity program for your staff is a must and should not be delayed. Outlined below are some helpful considerations for building and reinforcing a meaningful program in your practice.

Getting Started

Revisiting established core values in the practice can be a great place to start, since these are likely to provide a strong platform for launching a successful diversity and inclusion program. Core values such as integrity, commitment, and respect help shape the practice culture and serve as an overarching goal for all employees.

Talk with your doctors and managers to obtain buy-in about expanding your practice culture to include the core value of diversity with dedicated diversity training to facilitate integration. Full support from leadership is a must, as the program will apply and serve as an ongoing commitment for them and everyone else. Here are some actions and concepts to consider when implementing a cultural diversity program:

  1. The first step is easy: Decide today that your practice is going to develop a cultural diversity program for staff.

  2. Determine who will lead the program and look for avenues to train your practice trainers.

  3. Understand that everyone has a different level of cultural competency. Encourage folks to have an open mind to learn and do better, as everyone can improve.

  4. Understand that not all prejudicial actions are verbal; some physical actions such as body language or even unconscious bias may be considered discriminatory.

  5. Understand that there may be some perception differences among generations.

  6. Invite open conversations on cultural diversity.

  7. Hold a mandatory meeting for the entire staff to discuss your diversity policy and cultural diversity program.

  8. Encourage staff to attend a cultural diversity webinar or course such as this free 35-minute webinar course from BSM Consulting titled Cultural Diversity and Competency Considerations for Health Care.

  9. Share that cultural diversity training is not a one-and-done process; it will require continual development and will change over time.

  10. Consider creating a dedicated cultural diversity team to help with employee engagement — its goal would be to facilitate a better understanding of cultural diversity elements and incorporation of cultural diversity celebration.

Reinforcing the Program

To further support and instill the tenets of the practice’s cultural diversity program, do the following:

Instill a ZERO-tolerance policy

Help your team understand how important universal acceptance is for the practice and its customers. As post co-author Laurie Brown stated in the Cultural Diversity and Competency Considerations for Health Care webinar course, you need to define what excellence looks like in your practice. That should include instilling a zero-tolerance policy, establishing that unbecoming behavior toward others will not be tolerated. Period.

Educate and raise awareness

Make diversity training a part of regular practice trainings. Cultural diversity training really goes hand-in-hand with harassment training, and it should be part of the practice’s onboarding and annual trainings. This type of program does not need to solely consist of a set of rules that one must follow. That is part of the zero-tolerance policy. Instead find ways to make learning and awareness fun. For example: Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and what it represents to acknowledge the importance of this federal holiday to those you serve. By recognizing and embracing what is important to others, it will send a positive message to all.

Engage

Don’t wait to be told that there is an insensitive situation happening in the practice. Rather than reacting after the fact and needing to provide corrective action to an incident, be proactive. Use your cultural diversity team to identify actions that can be taken to build awareness and demonstrate that diversity is accepted and celebrated as part of your practice foundation.

Respect

It is likely that respect is already established as one of the practice’s core values. Since respect is the foundation of treating everyone equally, how can you ensure that this is truly being embraced across the entire organization at every level, down to every single individual. Find new ways to show and practice respect at all levels.

An Ongoing Effort

Cultural diversity is not a training topic you can simply cross off the list once it’s completed. It’s an ongoing effort that is ever-evolving. As such, keep it top-of-mind for your staff through your policies, trainings, and daily interactions. Respect and inclusion are the only way forward. Be a practice that supports and embraces diverse cultures.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: To learn more about this topic, view our Cultural Diversity and Competency Considerations for Health Care webinar course. Enjoy!

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