Building Cultural Competency…Right in Your Own Neighbourhood

Managing diverse workplaces is a hot topic these days. To address skill shortages, we’re increasingly dependent on immigrant workers – and, for the first time ever, we have four distinct generations working within many organizations. Much money and time has been invested in helping organizations to recruit and retain diverse workers – the SEED toolkit that we developed last year is one example of a comprehensive project with that focus. The toolkit is freely available at:
However, a big challenge with embracing diversity is simply that we don’t know what we don’t know. In the Cultural Diversity Yearbook, part of the SEED toolkit, is full of ideas for embracing diversity at work.
The picture I’ve inserted here looks like it might be from one of our trips to Asia, doesn’t it? A beautiful Jade Buddha is being admired by visitors, some of whom have travelled quite a distance to see it. If you could hear the sounds, the major languages are Chinese and Vietnamese – no English. You’d smell incense mingled with Pho, a Vietnamese soup. Many visitors are drinking bubble tea. There are only 4 Caucasian visitors out of several hundred in the plaza – Gerry and I, and two men with their Asian wives and families.

What may surprise you is that this photo is from the corner of our quiet street in the village of Aldergrove, in the middle of farm country just an hour outside of Vancouver. A Buddhist monastery purchased the United Church building and property and, within just one month, converted it to a temple. The Jade Buddha for Universal Peace is only temporarily on display – if you can get to Aldergrove before Sunday, August 15th, it’s well worth a look!

As I sat at my desk earlier today and looked out my office window, a South Asian woman was standing on her front lawn bowing to the East in the early morning light (different culture and different faith from the Buddhists on the corner). Last weekend, about 8,000 Christian youth attended “Rock the River” just a few kilometres west of here. We took our grand-daughters to the Chilliwack agricultural fair last Friday, too!

Without straying far from home this summer, what cultural events can you attend? Once you’ve explored a bit, consider celebrating the diversity within your own workplace – a cultural potluck can be a wonderful start! The Cultural Diversity Yearbook, part of the SEED toolkit, is full of ideas for embracing diversity at work.

Interested in learning more about the SEED toolkit and other workplace diversity resources? Join us online for one week beginning September 22 for our Managing Diversity e-course!

Originally posted August 12, 2010 by Roberta Neault

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