Cultural Sensitivity Training In The Workplace: Why It Matters

Cultural Sensitivity Training ensures that the employees working in the organization have control over their attitude and have a sense of how and how to communicate with people of various backgrounds, races, and cultures. Creating a culturally sensitive place is not solely restricted to respecting diversity; it is equally about fostering a positive and inclusive work environment. 

Being respectful of the cultural differences of others is of great essence if you want to see your company on the path of growth and advancement. 

“Cultural Differences should not separate us from each other, but rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity”- Robert Alan Aurthur.

How to Implement Cultural Sensitivity Training?

Before dwelling into this phase, you must map out the company’s values, departments of concern, and what would be most helpful for your employees. There are several steps an organization can undertake to bring cultural sensitivity into force, such as:

  • Arrange a Cultural Sensitivity Expert 

It’s important to be culturally sensitive to ensure everyone feels equal, included and valued within the business and can operate at their very best. For this purpose, an external specialist can help businesses re-orientate their approach to workplace culture, instilling an awareness of the different viewpoints that employees have.

Moreover, arranging for a cultural professional within the company, who resolves queries and grievances concerning the topic at hand, is a good approach to guide the staff. This is one way of reflecting that your business cares for diversity and seeks to make the workspace a place of belonging. 

  • Communication is Key

We can learn plenty only when an open communication channel is in place. For a cultural training program to be successful, employees must be keen on communicating their ideas and opinions rather than being hesitant due to the fear of being misjudged. 

Authentic communication in the working environment will allow the employees to freely raise their concerns and better understand each other, helping the employees comprehend the differences they share. Transparent communication will allow the staff to feel a sense of belonging, which will create a positive work aura, making the employees yield a higher productivity level.

  • Incite Self-awareness

The trick is to make the employees reflect within themselves and inspect their emotions, actions, and how they feel. While the sensitivity training program is going on, the attendees should be encouraged to imagine themselves in the position of the one offended. This will generate the necessary and meaningful empathy as well as a realization of their wrongdoings. 

  • Adherence to Company Policies

Encouraging open and transparent conversations does not mean that employees forget about the company’s rules and obligations. It is, thus, the company’s primary duty to remind them of the organization’s toleration policy, which is essential to ensure that all actions are done under the company guidelines, and they do not offend anyone. 

While citing what the employees are not supposed to do, either verbally or physically, make sure to include things they should be doing instead. 

  • Consistent Learning

The effectiveness of something is only ensured when it is consistently practiced, and sensitivity training is no exception. The company must hold continuous meetings for the issue so that the chain of learning does not break. Having several days of meetings that are continuous will also encourage follow-up actions and the ability to evaluate improvement in employee interactions. 

In addition to this, some other ways to maintain the flow of learning are by distributing posters, sending newsletters, emails, etc., to further the mission of creating an inclusive and welcoming work environment for great talent from all over the globe. 

How will Cultural Sensitivity Training Prove to Be Useful?

  • Increased Cultural Awareness

Cultural awareness is essential for creating a safe space for the company’s employees to have a sense of belonging. This will also improve the communication among co-workers and lead to a better understanding of each person and their background. Training sets the foundation for learning about and valuing different perspectives and backgrounds and developing empathy — the ability to perceive and relate to the thoughts, emotions, or experiences of others.

  • Behavior Expectations

How well the relationships among the co-workers are built depends highly and primarily on their behavior towards each other. How does cultural sensitivity training help? It helps ensure that employees understand the behavior expectations of the organization’s code of conduct and policies and practices to prevent discrimination, harassment, bullying, and other misconduct.

A better approach in this regard would be behavior-centered training that focuses on the appropriate behavior one should lead with while addressing people from all sorts of backgrounds. Practicing this will not only create a positive impact but also keep a check on the employee’s mental health. 

The employees and their perspectives, as well as views on diversity, should be challenged in the training program. A multidimensional view of the issue should be brought to light. 

  • Improved Decision-Making Ability

People tend to make judgments, favorable or unfavorable, about people based on stereotypes or preconceived opinions. The existence of these unconscious biases in the workplace can lead to you making unjust calls. For instance, when a deserving employee is neglected for a job promotion because of their accent or background. 

Cultural sensitivity training helps each individual get rid of these unfair practices and choose a better and fair approach to decision-making. With this training program, they will be able to understand why biases occur, what’s a better way to set an example as a leader, and the steps they can take to manage their own biases. 

  • Better Communication Skills

Falling short of embodying cultural sensitivity can have serious consequences. It can make your ability to communicate ideas across many people less effective, hinder your relationship with the company workers, and alienate or offend customers, partners, and colleagues working in different regions, countries, and cultures. 

Cultural sensitivity training helps bridge this gap by raising awareness of the nuances of cross-culture communication and by highlighting the importance our words and actions carry. 

  • Keeping Opinions On the Table

A company will only be able to foster a culturally sensitive environment when each individual participates. Raising your voice against injustices, harassment, or incidents of discrimination is how this training will be effectively come to be successful. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other workplace experts consider bystander intervention training one of the most effective ways to empower employees to take an active role in stopping harassment, preventing future incidents, and fostering a safe workplace culture.

  • Improved Productivity

It is believed by 84 percent of individuals that the workforce experience needs to be rethought to improve productivity, including focusing attention on improving cultural awareness across businesses. To create an environment sensitive to different cultures, Deloitte has recognized certain benchmarks including, purpose and meaning, ethics and fairness, growth and passion, collaboration and personal relationships, and transparency and openness. 

Indeed, levels of productivity should be increased too as there is the opportunity to reduce mistakes and misunderstandings between members of the team and between colleagues.

  • Greater Output

When individuals feel safe and respected, they will be more confident in voicing their ideas. This will bring to the fore a creative perspective that is otherwise unheard due to a lack of cultural sensitivity. Employees with different life experiences can and will view a problem differently, increasing the chance of finding a good solution.

Keeping in mind the above points, it becomes evident that cultural sensitivity training is not just important on paper. Still, its execution is significant to the growth of the entire organization. Embodying cultural sensitivity will result in a stronger and safer workspace, decreasing employee turnover and benefiting the company in numerous ways. 

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