THE EVENT PROVIDED OUR EMPLOYEES, OUR CONSUMERS AND FAMILIES WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO SAMPLE FOODS FROM A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUPS, TO LEARN MORE ABOUT EACH OTHER AND THE CULTURES FROM WHICH WE ALL COME, AND TO HAVE A GREAT TIME TOGETHER AS WE CELEBRATED OUR DIVERSITY!
On Thursday, November 3rd, Orion Associates, Meridian Services, and Zenith Services hosted its fourth annual Celebration of Cultural Diversity at the Maple Grove Community Center, in Maple Grove.
The event provided our employees, our consumers and families with the opportunity to sample foods from a number of different ethnic groups, to learn more about each other and the cultures from which we all come, and to have a great time together as we celebrated our diversity!
Encouraging Our Employees to Be Culturally Competent
Orion Associates, Meridian Services and Zenith Services encourage its employees to be sensitive to other people’s cultures. We want our employees to be more fully aware of differences in culture among each other and among the consumers we serve, as well as to understand the importance that culture plays in everyone’s lives.
Culture forms the identity of a people, an organization, or a community. Various aspects of culture may include a group’s history, family values, child rearing practices, religion, and cultural courtesies. Culture can be identified in social patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and thoughts that are characteristic of a community.
Having a disability in and of itself is a form of culture. As people who work with people with disabilities, we need to increase our own sensitivity and celebrate the diversity of this culture as well.
As an organization, we continue to encourage our employees to be “culturally competent.” Cultural competence helps to alleviate misunderstandings between people. A cultural competent person incorporates the importance of culture, assesses cross-cultural differences, expands cultural knowledge, and adapts services to meet culturally unique needs.
There are six levels to cultural competence:
- Cultural Destructiveness: Attitudes, policies and behaviors are actively destructive to cultures. This includes dehumanizing people who are not of your own culture by denying them rights you allow your own culture. A person at this level assumes their own culture is superior to all others and often controls and exploits other cultures.
- Cultural Incapacity: Persons who are culturally incapacitated do not intentionally seek to be destructive, but lack capacity to work with people of another culture. This person still believes their own culture is superior and may believe stereotypes. These people are characterized by ignorance, unrealistic fears, inability to value to welcome diversity, and lower expectations from people outside their own culture.
- Cultural Inattention: A culturally inattentive person is unbiased toward members of cultures different from their own, but believes the culture makes not difference at all. These people function under the idea that all people should be treated the same. They ignore strengths that cultural diversity provides and covertly encourage assimilation. These individuals may also end up blaming people rather than cultural bias for problems.
- Cultural Pre-competence: This type of person recognizes weaknesses in serving cultural minorities and attempts to improve the problem. They ask, “What can I do?” This person has begun the process but often lacks information on how to proceed and what is possible.
- Basic Cultural Competence: This person accepts and respects differences while continuing to access own culture. This person also pays close attention to dynamics of difference and expands own cultural knowledge and resources. This person also varies the way he / she provides service in order to meet the needs of others’ cultural identity.
- Advanced Cultural Competence: This person seeks to add to cultural knowledge he / she already has and holds culture in high esteem. This person identifies discrimination based upon culture, and advocates for cultural competence in the agencies and systems to which he/she belongs.
In our society today, we are beginning to view cultural differences as individual strengths, and are moving away from the historical perspective of viewing our society as a “melting pot” in which people’s differences are melted away.
Our organization joins with our society, therefore, and acknowledges the importance of striving to value, discuss and respect our cultural differences and encourages “cultural competence.”