The Role Cultural Competency Plays in the Workplace

Kelly O'Halloran
March 9, 2021
talespin
talespin

In an effort to learn about past government policies intended to keep Black homebuyers out of neighborhoods with plenty of jobs and good schools, an employee resource group (ERG) at Better.com organized a reading of Richard Rothstein’s book, “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.”

More than 200 employees from the online mortgage platform participated, and now the company is planning to make it part of their new hire onboarding program. 

This marks one example of how Better.com is improving cultural competency, which is the ability to listen, learn and understand cultural differences and worldviews. The more cultural competency within a company, the greater the communication and collaboration between employees. 

Cultural competency is the ability to listen, learn and understand cultural differences and worldviews.

“We have many employees from different industries, backgrounds, educations, and more,” said Ivori Johnson, the senior manager of D&I recruiting programs. “In order to serve the communities that we support, we have to learn more about one another.”

Talespin, the work skills training and VR simulation platform, has also launched programs to lift cultural competency, including a “Diversity, Inclusion and Cultural Accountability” (DICA) committee.

“The goal is to foster an environment that allows everyone to focus on learning about the importance of understanding and empathize with each other in order to create an inclusive and supportive workplace,” said Director of People Operations Antoinette Jones. 

Johnson and Jones shared how else their companies are ensuring all employees feel included, supported and valued.

 

Ivori Johnson
Sr. Manager, D&I Recruiting Programs

Senior Manager of D&I Recruiting Programs Ivori Johnson highlighted Better.com’s speaker series, 11 ERGs, civic work and intersectional holiday celebrations as part of their cultural competency initiatives.

 

What’s one step your team has taken to help employees improve their cultural competency?

We welcomed a set of speakers to lead conversations with Better employees on diversity, racial inequities, housing policy, and civic engagement. Speakers to date have included the following: Senator Cory Booker, Frans Johansson, professor Duchess Harris, Richard Rothstein and Bakari Sellers. In addition, our ERGs, which represent various communities within Better, have spearheaded interactive educational and cultural programs. 

For example, our ERG Seneca Village created an internal employee book club focusing on a set of selections to provide employees the opportunity to build a knowledge base on housing policies. Our program pilot launched with more than 200 participants reading “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.” Now, we are looking to embed this into our onboarding program. Additionally, we continue to have conversations around inclusive hiring and how to increase representation at all levels within Better. We have begun forming partnerships with organizations such as Climb Hire, Afrotech, dev/color, and Women Who Code.
 

There is a certain magic that happens here that allows our workforce to be the voice and driving force behind creating a culture of representation and cultural competence.”


How does Better promote or celebrate cultural diversity in the workplace? 

Some of the best examples of how we celebrate cultural diversity are through our ERGs. We have 11 ERGs that collaborate to address and celebrate intersections of diversity in powerful and unique ways. In December, our ERGs gathered to celebrate the holidays and reflect on the past year as a community. Our end-of-year celebrations incorporated Kwanzaa celebrations with traditional Latin American Noche Buena festivities while concurrently hosting a women in tech game night and a fantastic LGBTQIA+ drag show for all employees. There is a certain magic that happens here that allows our workforce to be the voice and driving force behind creating a culture of representation and cultural competence.

 

How does cultural competence show up in the ways your employees communicate and relate with one another? 

We have many employees from different industries, backgrounds, educations and more. In order to serve the communities that we support, we have to learn more about one another. Through allyship, our ERGs have been able to create space for allies who want to show up and support different communities. Our employees have been able to talk freely about systemic inequities and educate allies on how to support.

 

 

Antoinette Jones
Director of People Operations

Talespin’s efforts to increase cultural competence include a newly launched committee and five subcommittees focused on mental health, company values, diversifying the workforce, race and socioeconomic learning and internal education. The initiatives span their offices in Culver City, California, and Utrecht, the Netherlands.

 

What’s one step your team has taken to help employees improve their cultural competency?

For some, 2020 shined a blinding light on the alarming and unfortunate state of social justice and equality in today’s world. As opposed to allowing these realizations to separate us more than the pandemic already had, we took this as an opportunity to take action for our company and culture with the creation of Talespin’s “Diversity, Inclusion and Cultural Accountability” (DICA) committee. DICA was created and is driven entirely by employees from across the organization. Employees are encouraged, and in some cases required, to participate in various engaging workshops, exercises, companywide initiatives, and group discussions with their colleagues. The goal is to foster an environment that allows everyone to focus on learning about the importance of understanding and empathize with each other in order to create an inclusive and supportive workplace. 

Within the DICA committee, we created five subcommittees focused on mental health, company values, commitment to a diverse workforce, race and socioeconomic learning, and internal education. Through these subcommittees, we ensure the primary areas of cultural competency are covered to improve our company culture in a more impactful way.
 

Finding the balance between productivity and cultural inclusion is critical in leading teams efficiently and effectively in the U.S. and the Netherlands.”


How does Talespin promote or celebrate cultural diversity in the workplace? 

Talespin has created a comprehensive employee resource page on our internal communications platform, Confluence. Here, employees will find a one-stop shop with all the tools and information they need to learn, engage and connect with their colleagues about the various backgrounds we all come from. This page also contains educational videos, music playlists, suggested readings, activities and other helpful resources for those seeking support in areas outside of their work life. Additional mental health-related support and information can also be found on this page.

Talespin also makes a point to acknowledge and celebrate important holidays and significant days of observances like Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Pride Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, and many others. From sharing historical facts and context to encouraging our employees to take mental health days to recharge and reflect, we strive to find ways to support our people in all areas. Finding the balance between productivity and cultural inclusion is critical in leading teams efficiently and effectively in the U.S. and the Netherlands.

 

How does cultural competence show up in the ways your employees communicate and relate with one another? 

We’ve taken a head-on approach to confront and encourage communication around cultural differences. With the support of our company culture consultant, we have successfully established safe spaces like our company town halls to encourage open communication and dialogue. These town halls invite all employees to voice their feelings on the state of society, openly discuss their concerns and collectively support one another.

The town hall idea inspired us to take the opportunity to learn together a step further. Our internal education subcommittee implemented workshops for Talespin employees to engage in various topics surrounding diversity and inclusion under the guidance of our company culture consultants. These workshops had custom curriculums focused on emotional intelligence, unconscious bias and identifying microaggressions. In addition to the wealth of information, it is a great way for employees to vulnerably share about our experiences and educate one another on the topics we may have never been exposed to. In many ways, it has brought our teams closer together in a time where we are all so far apart.

 

Jobs from companies in this blog68 open jobs
All Jobs
Finance
Data + Analytics
Design + UX
Dev + Engineer
HR + Recruiting
Internships
Marketing
Operations
Project Mgmt
Sales
Content
Design + UX
new
Better.com
Remote
HR + Recruiting
new
Better.com
Remote
Internships
new
Better.com
Remote
Finance
new
Better.com
Orange County
Operations
new
Better.com
Remote
Design + UX
new
Better.com
Remote
Finance
new
Better.com
Remote
Sales
new
Better.com
Orange County
HR + Recruiting
new
Better.com
Orange County
Operations
new
Better.com
Remote
Operations
new
Better.com
Remote
Operations
new
Better.com
Orange County
Content
new
Better.com
Remote
Operations
new
Better.com
Orange County
Operations
new
Better.com
Orange County
Operations
new
Better.com
Orange County
Developer
new
Better.com
Remote
Operations
new
Better.com
Orange County
Operations
new
Better.com
Remote
Operations
new
Better.com
Remote
Operations
new
Better.com
Remote
Operations
new
Better.com
Remote
Operations
new
Better.com
Remote
Operations
new
Better.com
Orange County
Operations
new
Better.com
Remote
Developer
new
Better.com
Remote
Design + UX
new
Better.com
Remote
Sales
new
Talespin
Los Angeles
Sales
new
Better.com
Remote
HR + Recruiting
new
Better.com
Remote
Developer
new
Talespin
Los Angeles
Operations
new
Better.com
Orange County
Content
new
Talespin
Los Angeles
Content
new
Talespin
Los Angeles
Developer
new
Better.com
Remote
HR + Recruiting
new
Talespin
Los Angeles
Data + Analytics
new
Better.com
Remote
Sales
new
Better.com
Orange County
Content
new
Better.com
Remote
Content
new
Better.com
Remote
HR + Recruiting
new
Better.com
Remote
Marketing
new
Better.com
Remote
Content
new
Better.com
Remote
Content
new
Better.com
Remote
Content
new
Better.com
Remote
Content
new
Better.com
Remote
Project Mgmt
new
Better.com
Orange County
Sales
new
Better.com
Remote
Sales
new
Better.com
Remote
Sales
new
Better.com
Remote
Developer
new
Talespin
Los Angeles
Operations
new
Talespin
Los Angeles
Operations
new
Better.com
Remote
Design + UX
new
Better.com
Remote
Sales
new
Better.com
Remote
Sales
new
Better.com
Remote
Sales
new
Better.com
Remote
Sales
new
Better.com
Remote
Finance
new
Better.com
Remote
Design + UX
new
Better.com
Remote
HR + Recruiting
new
Better.com
Remote
Sales
new
Better.com
Orange County
Design + UX
new
Better.com
Remote
Content
new
Better.com
Remote
HR + Recruiting
new
Better.com
Remote

Los Angeles startup guides

LOCAL GUIDE
Best Companies to Work for in Los Angeles
LOCAL GUIDE
Coolest Tech Offices in Los Angeles
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Perks at Los Angeles Tech Companies
LOCAL GUIDE
Women in Los Angeles Tech