How to Ensure Cultural Safety in the Workplace
A great way to foster a great working environment is to achieve cultural safety. In a culturally-safe workplace, employees feel comfortable, supported, and respected; each one is given the ability to flourish regardless of their identities. To achieve this kind of environment, it’s important to start with cultural awareness training in the workplace, such as Evolve Communities’ online cultural competence course, to encourage reconciliation and allyship the right way.
What Is Cultural Safety?
Cultural safety is the state of an environment where respect, knowledge, and experience are shared among members without fear or denial of their identities. It also entails the creation of a space where each one can examine their own culture and acknowledge associated biases, and be more open-minded and accepting of the differences of others.
The concept of cultural safety started in Aotearoa New Zealand in the 1980s in the healthcare industry, as a response to the unequal access to services by Māori people. At the time, cultural safety was defined as the recognition and respect towards the identities of others to meet their needs, rights, and expectations.
While the concept of cultural safety emerged in the healthcare sector, it also applies in other contexts—including the workplace. Cultural safety in the workplace involves learning from and about the diversity of employees and developing guidelines to protect the expression of these identities.
Who Benefits From Cultural Safety?
Many workers believe that cultural safety only benefits Indigenous peoples, but a culturally safe environment is equally advantageous to all.
Why diversity is important in the workplace lies in the effects they bring to a company’s morale, productivity, and communication. When a workplace is marked by freedom, humility, and respect, it becomes a well-oiled machine with collaborative employees who happily and efficiently go about their daily tasks, and this energy can even extend into the company’s external relationships.
Principles of Cultural Safety
Every workplace that hopes to achieve cultural safety must set a foundation that follows these four principles:
Cultural awareness is the recognition that cultures have similarities and differences, and these characteristics are unique and devoid of any hierarchies.
Cultural sensitivity is the acknowledgement that we are influenced by our own culture and, so, have our own biases. Through cultural sensitivity, we learn to act respectfully towards others who are different from us.
Cultural competency refers to the understanding of other cultures and the development of respectful interaction skills towards them. It doesn’t require anyone to be an expert in one another’s cultures, but it does make people more conscious of their biases and more responsible for any actions influenced by them—intentional or not.
Cultural humility involves recognising power and privilege in cultural settings, taking responsibility for one’s actions, and being open to learning from and about other cultures. Cultural safety can only be achieved through continuous learning and self-reflection.
How to Ensure Cultural Safety in the Workplace
You can ensure cultural safety in the workplace by providing training, setting guidelines, and resolving conflict properly. Let’s take a look at how.
Provide Cultural Competency Training
Cultural competency training provides everyone in your company with the tools and framework to build cultural safety. That said, it’s important to make sure that you’re employing the right people to provide the course. Evolve Communities’ program is backed by authentic cultural knowledge and real allyship expertise so you know you’re in good hands.
Create a Code of Conduct
Your code of conduct, and similarly your employee handbook, should have sections that address standards in the protection of cultural safety in the workplace. Make sure that they clearly state the responsibilities, expectations, and consequences relevant to cultural safety.
Review Hiring Practices
One way to ensure that cultural safety is maintained is to take a look at your company’s hiring process. Fix procedures that may turn out to be culturally insensitive and add safeguards that can help you determine that your new hires are aligned with your guidelines.
Create Easy Reporting Processes
Empower your employees by making it easy for them to report any occurrences of cultural unsafety. Encourage an open environment wherein no one would feel disabled enough to be unable to defend themselves.
Know How to Handle Issues
Resolving issues can be tricky when it comes to cultural competency, which is why it’s necessary to put forth proper resolution management practices, preferably those reviewed by cultural safety consultants.
Achieve Cultural Safety With Evolve Communities
The first step to cultural safety is education. Evolve Communities’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Competence Training is one of the best cultural safety programs in Australia. In less than an hour, you can help your team become Allies to Indigenous people and foster a safer, more respectful, and more holistic workplace!