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Cultural Diversity in the Workplace: Speak Up, Speak Out, Speak Now!

Cultural Diversity

Cultural Diversity

Religious wear, cultural dress, racial identification, hairstyles, food, tattoos and piercings are examples of cultural diversity. There is a strong possibility that people in your workplace possess at least one of the aforementioned identities. Unfortunately, different expressions of cultural diversity can be unintentionally offensive to some or intolerable by others in your workplace.  According to Power of Culture,Culture is indeed everywhere. It forms our belief systems, frames perceptions, formulates understandings, and guides behaviors.” How do you address an aspect of cultural diversity that becomes a conflict? What are your company’s policies regarding cultural diversity issues? Who do you discuss this concern with in your organization? Was the form of cultural diversity intentionally offensive? These are questions I recommend you ask.

Diversity is a sensitive issue, and plays a key element in conflict. Because cultural diversity is a part of your individuality, it is symbolic of your identity and it is important for your workplace and employees to understand and respect it. Don’t be afraid to access your power! I too encountered a conflict at my job that involved my cultural identity. I was told by my supervisor to remove my headwear. I was not given a reason as to why I had to remove it. When I approached the supervisor privately and asked why it had to be removed, my supervisor replied, “It just couldn’t be worn here”. The reply was neither respectful nor accurate. I decided to access the employee handbook and refer to the dress code section. The dress code guidelines in regard to religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds did not correspond to the directions I received from my supervisor when I was asked to remove my headwear. I discretely brought this to the attention of my supervisor and showed that my headwear did not have to be removed. Although my supervisor did not apologize for being wrong or offensive, I was now aware that referring to the Employee Handbook is a valuable resource.

Education and awareness are the most respectful ways to inform yourself and others about cultural diversity and to be culturally sensitive to these differences. For example, you make a comment about the smell of your co-workers food in the break room. Your intent is not to harm but the smell to you, is foul smelling and now your co-worker’s reaction is defensive, as they perceived your comments as offensive. Although you did not intend to hurt his/her feelings YOU DID! It is best for you to address this and for you understand why it is culturally inappropriate.

Here are tips on how to respond to conflict as it relates to honoring your cultural identity.

  1.  Acknowledge your feelings. Remember it’s okay to feel offended and hurt.
  2.  Respond immediately to the conflict privately and professionally. Don’t let the issue linger.
  3. Have a copy of the Employee Handbook and reference it during your workplace conflict.
  4. Communicate. Start with the person who you felt offended by first. Then, if you believe this warrants going to your supervisor or Human Resources for a violation of your rights. There is also the option of accessing mediation services either from within your organization or outside sources such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

 To learn more about cultural diversity and conflict visit Beyond Intractability and The Power of Culture.

 by Tierra Henry, Graduate Student, University of Baltimore Dispute Resolution Program

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Beware of the Grinch – Holiday Considerations for the Global Workplace


Every holiday season, workplaces around the country ponder whether to have their annual Christmas party and whether to decorate with all of the glitter and bows that accompanies the traditional American celebration. Employers’ stress and anxiety rises as they think of the potential conflict lurking around the Christmas tree…the Grinch.

With diversity comes the recognition that there are a number of fall and winter holidays that are  globally recognized celebrations…Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and Bohdi Day. In a global workplace, multiple cultures are represented honoring a number of traditions, religious beliefs, and cultural expectations. In preparation of this season, we will discuss a major trap employers find themselves in that can lead to a lawsuit and strategies to put into place at your workplace for a more peaceful season.

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How do you spell LGBT? When Diversity shows up at your desk!


When we see someone who is different from us, we as human beings react with curiosity, concern and caution based on what we may know or have been taught. Forty years ago, not many talked about sexual orientation or gender identity but today Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employees are in the workplace and looking for workplace equality. Find out what are the best policies and practices are, how to address questions as they come up and preempt conflicts to enhance the workplace for everyone!

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October Show Line Up – The Texas Conflict Coach

The Texas Conflict Coach™ blog talk radio show announces its October show lineup. We hope you can join us. We appreciate you spreading the word.

The Texas Conflict Coach blog talk radio show will host a number of special guests.

When: Every Tuesday evening

Time: 5:00-5:30 pm PST/ 7:00-7:30 pm CST/8:00-8:30 pm EST

How: Call in live at 347-324-3591

Listen live and join the chat at www.blogtalkradio.com/texas-conflict-coach

– OR-

Listen to archive shows and learn more at www.texasconflictcoach.com

October 4 – How to SOLVE Your Conflicts

Eileen Dowse, an international consultant and an award-winning author of “The Naked Manager-How to Build Open Relationships at Work” will introduce her SOLVE model as a way to address issues and build long-lasting solutions.

October 11 – The Top 10 List – Strategies for Constructive Conflict Engagement

Pattie Porter, host of the Texas Conflict Coach, will share her top 10 strategies for dealing with conflict constructively.

October 18 – Workplace Mediation Involving People with Disabilities: Collaborating to Make it Accessible

This special program honors Disability Employment Awareness month in October. Special guest, Judy Cohen and Project Coordinator for the ADA Mediation Guidelines, talks about steps employers and employees should take to make sure that employees with disabilities can fully participate in the process.

October 25 – Understanding the Benefits of Online Dispute Resolution – Cyberweek 2011

As part of Cyberweek 2011 hosted by the Werner Institute at Creighton University via ADRHub.com, we will talk LIVE with Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) experts Noam Ebner, Colin Rule and Dan Rainey. This show focuses on how online dispute resolution processes are used to deal with disputes, the various forms of ODR processes, and the benefits and challenges to using virtual communications.

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Bullying: An Elephant in the Classroom

Bullying: An elephant in the classroom focuses on the chaos and mayhem exposed in one Texas school district. Teachers complain of abusive, fearful, and chaotic classrooms that interfere with educating students. They are the targets of bullying by their co-workers and/or school administrators. They are faced with dealing with the elephant in the classroom.  Dr. Esque L. Walker will join us and inform us of how ineffective policies and programs to address school or workplace bullying can have dire consequences. She will share the lessons learned.

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The Importance of Fairness in Workplace Conflict Management

 Can workplace conflict be managed simply through mediation, conflict coaching and the various other methods proposed by consultants? And what is the purpose of these methods? Is it to manage conflict? Or is it something that runs much deeper? This talk explores the importance of understanding workplace fairness in managing conflict. We will explore short, medium and long-term effects of unfairness in the workplace and discuss how to move from a culture of unfairness to a culture of fairness in the workplace.

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Women and Bullying: A Personal Perspective

In this show, we will speak with Esque Walker, the Texas Coordinator for Texas Healthy Workplace Advocates, and a woman who has been bullied in the workplace. She will discuss how many organizations have this “dirty little secret” and highlight…

* Bullying as an emotional rape
* The similarities between bullying and domestic violence
*  The 5 D Factors related to bullying: Death, Disaster, Destruction, Dollars and Discrimination
* The Texas Healthy Workplace legislation

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Workplace Bullying: The Target’s Perspective

 Dr. Gary Namie and his wife, Ruth, are the founders of the Workplace Bullying Institute . Dr. Namie focuses on the target’s perspective, the worker who just wants to do their work; and how often they are on the receiving end of the malicious and unwanted assault of bullying behavior. We will explore with Dr. Gary Namie how workplace bullying is defined and address what is an employee to do when confronted with this type of behavior. He will also introduce the Healthy Workplace legislative campaign that each state is addressing and what you can do to get involved to stop this unacceptable behavior.

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Taming Employees Who Bully: What’s a Small Business Owner to Do?

 What do you do when you discover you’ve hired someone who behaves badly with coworkers? Small business owners don’t have the benefit of large human resource departments, so what strategies should be applied to “tame” interpersonally aggressive employees?

Join Dr. Laura Crawshaw , (The Boss Whisperer) for insights and guidance on this challenging issue.
To get more information about the Executive Insight

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Maintaining Spontaneity in the Face of Conflict

This show will kick off Workplace Conflict Awareness month Andrea Barrett whose show in February focused on “Developing Agility in the Face of Conflict” will return to speak about spontaneity, it’s definition and integration in to our everyday lives. She will discuss how up develop spontaneity as a real means of reframing conflict. 


Read her blog, Coaching For Leadership and visit her website, A.Barrett Consulting

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