4 ways to make your work more culturally responsive

March 18th to March 24th is Cultural Diversity Week. The week is an opportunity for us all to celebrate the diversity within Victoria’s multicultural communities. The theme for this year’s Cultural Diversity Week is “Our Shared Stories – Celebrating Together.” To put this theme into practice, Carissa Tan, Sector Development Officer here at CMY, has shared four tips for us all to use in our daily lives to ensure we are culturally responsive and aware of the people we work with.

As workplaces become increasingly diverse, the need for cultural responsiveness has never been more critical. Cultural responsiveness takes cultural awareness one step further and emphasises the active and intentional adaptation of practice, policies and behaviors to meet the needs of all cultural groups to make all individuals feel valued, respected and supported. Here are four effective ways to make your workplace more culturally responsive.

Learning about culture

On an individual level, this could look like asking a colleague about an upcoming cultural celebration, or even participating in one. As a multicultural person myself, I find participation in diverse cultural celebrations an excellent platform for promoting deeper cross-cultural dialogues and understanding. CMY also provides all staff with professional development on culturally responsive practice, which allows them to explore culture through the lens of norms, values and communication styles, an option your own workplace or school could do themselves.

Using a strengths-based approach

This involves recognising and leveraging the unique strengths, talents and experience that multicultural employees bring to the table. For example, being proficient in multiple languages allows me to contribute linguistic diversity, valuable cultural insights and perspectives to my team at CMY. By incorporating multilingualism into organisational practices, such as communication materials, organisations can enhance their ability to meaningfully connect with diverse audiences both internally and externally.

Using a variety of cross-cultural communication strategies

Having worked with many multicultural people in different capacities, I find that using concise, uncomplicated language and sentence structures along with visual aids is key to bridging language and cultural barriers. Another strategy I have found useful in my previous job as a teacher, is to say things in the order that I want them to happen, ie “Do ABC, and then do XYZ”, as opposed to saying “Do XYZ before you do ABC”. Effective cross-cultural communication is also being mindful of non-verbal cues, like eye-contact, personal space, facial expressions and body language.

Partnership work and community building

Building partnerships with cultural organisations and community groups is essential for creating a truly inclusive workspace. CMY actively partners with a variety of external stakeholders through initiatives like Culture Spring, to seek solutions together. We also deliver cultural programs in partnership with communities, like the Le Mana Pasifika Project and the South Sudanese Community Support Groups, enabling us to connect more deeply, understand and respond directly to the needs of the community.

To book in for our next Culturally Responsive Practice training, click here. We can also tailor training for your organisation, reach out to our team via training@cmy.net.au to explore this option.