Cultural Inclusivity and other lessons

Well after having no laptop for nearly a month, it’s been returned, good as new. They had warned me that they may have to completely reset it in order to fix it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they completely replaced it with a different computer. It was only a couple of months old in the first place, had no distinguishing features and now it looks fresh out of the box. In addition, I started my second round of internship for my Master’s.

The week so far was good, lots of fun and interesting moments to learn and people to meet. I see the reports on the news of social unrest, public safety violations and concerns (it’s been like this for weeks)…it’s clear that a lot of things need to change and be re-evaluated. One thing that they’ve been stressing more than usual at university is the concept of cultural inclusivity. For most of us, we have diverse backgrounds, we may have emigrated ourselves or have been born the children of immigrants.

Our cultural backgrounds have had an impact on the way we were brought up, but the culture of the countries where we were raised or the cultures we adopted have also played a part in how we think, how we feel and interact with others. Much of this tends to happen on a subconscious level, most of the time we don’t even realize that we are acting or thinking in a way that is prejudice or biased. So an expert in diversity and workplace culture was brought in to discuss with us how we may be perpetuating these subconscious bias and how they could be used by others on us.

It was interesting to see the instances in which this could happen, such as:

  • Failing to get a job because of having a foreign sounding name
  • Being excluded by colleagues because of linguistic or cultural barriers
  • Being overlooked in the workplace because of your advanced age or lack of life experience
  • Failing to get work opportunities because of gender or orientation.

The list goes on… The speaker went on to say that in an ideal world, all that would matter is your qualifications or your ability to function in the role. However, we do not live in an ideal world, we live in this world. Fortunately this world is changing, it’s starting to become a place where people are offered opportunities based on our merits, especially large international organisations.

It is still important however to consider those from backgrounds different from our own. To ensure a cohesive workplace, it’s important to ensure that there is plenty of understanding and communication between colleagues. So during my first week, I tried to take that lesson in mind. I introduced myself to others and I tried to understand their perspectives. In a hospital, everyone is busy, so many different departments need to coordinate to ensure patient and staff safety, but what really surprised me was that despite all that, they put in a lot of effort to ensure every member of the diverse workforce felt included.

It gave off a warm and kind of inspiring feeling to witness, especially when you consider that at the moment, in a lot of places, there are countless people just looking out for their own interests (which is completely valid). The feeling of being supported just felt really good and comforting, especially since there is so much negativity out there. Whether it’s work, home or school, we should do our best not to let our biases interfere with opportunities to learn about another person or culture. Because when we fall prey to bias, we are limiting ourselves and our opportunities to grow both as individuals and a society.

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