Cultural Awareness in the Workplace

Early March I wrote a post titled Diversity in the Workplace. In summary it focused on the pros of having a diverse workforce and filling employment gaps with a diverse range of workers.

“Canada’s Indian and Northern Affairs office reports that the Aboriginal labour force is young and growing at twice the Canadian rate. This shows the Aboriginal Peoples population in Canada will soon represent a significant percentage of the labour force. And many of these workers are skilled and currently looking for work.”

When looking into hiring diverse workers particularly those from the Aboriginal Community you need to be aware of their culture. This is something that affects everyone who works in your company. From hiring directors, to management, to front line staff. In the end hiring diverse workers doesn’t guarantee they will stay working for you. They need to feel like they are equally respected and apart of the team.

In general I believe people do not mean to offend others, it is a lack of knowledge that leads us to make these mistakes. One way of heading this off is to educate yourself about the cultural differences amongst your workers. It is always a good idea to ask all employees if they have any specific requests to their work based on life style, religion or culture. This can help you create a welcoming workplace for your many diverse employees.

Though this is an excellent place to start, how do you ensure that your entire team is aware of these differences?

The answer, training. Being a fully culturally aware workplace boils down to training your entire team. Just like how you would never send an employee into a small space without small space training, you should never expect your team to be culturally aware without training.

Because we all come from different backgrounds it’s always a good idea to educate everyone on the same page, never assume someone knows something. Consider the training also as a group bonding as well. Learning together can help the team respect each other’s differences and become closer.

When you are ready to start your team on the path of cultural awareness contact us. We can train you and your employees as well as help get you government grants to off set the costs.

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  • Catherine Blackstock

    Hi – I deliver aboriginal awareness at AANDC. I am wondering what your course format is? We deliver history and client/cultural modules. What I am looking for is desensitizing/cultural awareness (combat negative assumptions, respectful workplace). My work # is 604-775-7138

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