Workplace diversity is increasingly important in healthcare settings. As the workforce and demographic patterns change, it is vital for staff to understand and be able to interact with various values, beliefs, and expectations. Cultural diversity can be described as cultural differences and variations of individuals and groups based on racial, ethnic, and cultural attributes. However, there are other types of diversity including gender identity, age, religion, education, political beliefs, and sexual orientation among others (Wagner, 2018). Diversity is natural and encouraged both within and external to the healthcare organization to foster inclusion.
Cultural competency should be at the very core of the healthcare organization because it is a vital component of reducing healthcare disparities. Cultural competence in healthcare indicates the ability to offer patient services to individuals with diverse values, beliefs, and behaviors. A culturally competent healthcare organization can provide care delivery-based evidence-based models such as patient-centered care and accountable care (Health Research & Educational Trust, 2013). With the help of cultural competence, tailored healthcare delivery to patients based on their social, cultural, and linguistic needs can be offered, providing effective care and benefiting the community.
At the same time, cultural competency also offers significant benefits for the culture and even business performance of a healthcare organization. Cultural competence inherently allows to incorporate various perspectives, ideas, and strategies into the strategic decision-making process. A culturally competent culture is one that is inclusive, understanding, responsible/accountable, and commonly drives engagement and participation of the many members and stakeholders of the organization. At the same time, it can help to improve efficiency of care services and reduce barriers, which only benefits the hospital and its patient, increased community outreach and market share of the organization (Health Research & Educational Trust, 2013).
While cultural competency may be a broad overarching concept for an organization, its foundations begin at the ground level with the training that staff receive, behaviors and attitudes that are demonstrated, and the importance that the healthcare facility places on diversity. Middle managers are the key transitional element between the broad concept and the practical application and are vital to executing the organization’s diversity strategy. Two strategies that middle managers can apply are: 1) changing hiring practices and talent development to avoid biases and provide opportunities to diverse groups of professionals, 2) improve awareness around cultural competency in teams by conducting training and forming diverse interprofessional teams when possible. Implementing these strategies will have positive results in the organizational culture and contribute to the diversity and cultural competency of staff, which will then reflect in healthcare provision to patients.
Health Research & Educational Trust. (2013). Becoming a culturally competent health care organization. Web.
Wagner, J. (2018). Leadership and influencing change in nursing. University of Regena Press. Web.