If there is a particular issue or challenge you are interested in knowing more about, tell me via the ‘Talk to me’ field below. Whether it’s time management, using your supervision to best effect, staff morale, or some other topic of importance to you—let’s take it on.
Hi Craig – Thanks for your update re: the article on returning to the workplace after serving as a caretaker. I hope all is well and will stay tuned when you are able to get to that article! Stevyn
Hi Stevyn. Thanks for hanging in there—writing has begun!
Hi Craig – Thanks again for your recent article on “Stepping out of your career to become caregiver…”. My best friend is having a very difficult time re-entering the work force after a long absence caring for his ill parents. You mentioned that being a white male provided you with a certain advantage. We disagree given the rapidly changing multicultural world in which we live. My friend is a 50 year-old white male who has been away from the work world for about 7 years. He and I believe he will have to redefine himself and design another whole career (he was in corporate sales). How did you explain your absence to potential employers? If you explained your caretaking role, I wonder if you received any negative feedback about your decision to do this? Any guidance you can provide that will offer him an advantage is appreciated. I know it will comfort him to know he’s not alone in this experience.
Thanks so much for writing. I feel for your friend—seven years is a long time out of the workforce. While the additional burden, for minorities, of having to deal with the reality of white privilege is not something your friend has to deal with (thank goodness), things are hard enough. Downward pressure on an economy still fighting to recover means your friend has to compete for jobs that even those with more experience (i.e., those who are overqualified for any given position) are competing for. However, all is not lost.
While too much to get into in a ‘Reply,’ your advocacy for your friend clearly steers me toward the subject of an article that is a natural follow-up—how I approached my own back-to-work effort. Sixteen months pales in comparison with seven years, but the approaches to workforce re-entry are every bit as valid and applicable. I’ll make every effort to publish this follow-up or companion article by Monday, July 14th. In it, I will explore my own approaches to getting back to work, how much is too much, when it comes to sharing about your role as caregiver, and how much might be too little. Without knowing his circumstances, my hope is that your friend (and others) can apply some of these lessons to his own efforts to get back in the swing of things. In the meantime, I would strongly suggest your friend have a look at any number of articles on careerealism.com, careerhmo.com, and my favorite, Liz Ryan’s humanworkplace.com. Some great stuff there.
Thank you for inspiring my next piece, Stevyn. I hope you’ll consider looking at my archive for other useful social service and not-for-profit oriented articles. And thanks for using ‘Suggest A Topic’!
Due to unusual (but very happy) circumstances, I am not able to publish a reply in time for tomorrow, as promised. Please accept my apology, and stay tuned.
So, a huge part of social work education and our code of ethics revolves around cultural competence, right? Cultural humility is essentially upholding this same idea but in a way that is a bit less condescending. So instead of thinking we can read books and become “competent” about a culture, humility is just recognizing and acting on the fact that we are always learning and developing our awareness and that it is a lifelong pursuit, not some goal that can be achieved or some formula that can be applied to all cultures of peoples across the board.
By “inclusive workplace” I mean one that is not dominated by mainstream, middle class, white “norms” in a way that excludes and outcasts people of color and those who do not follow the mainstream notion of normalcy.
I live in the midwest, my first experience working in social work was in the most segregated city in the nation. I noticed predominantly white agencies struggling with retention of people of color, and I think it had a lot to do with the lack of inclusiveness in the workplace and a failure in honoring the experiences of people of color in white dominated agencies by holding a space for people to actually talk about it.
Anyways, I can’t help but wonder how management addresses this (or doesn’t).
Sarah, I really enjoy your writing, which I also find very thought provoking. And I have a sneaking suspicion that you have some pretty good ideas of your own about how managers should, or could, address cultural humility and inclusivity.
To be continued…
As a program manager, and/or supervisor – how does one promote and enforce cultural humility and an inclusive workplace?
Excellent question, Sarah.
I’m going to exercise humility of a different kind by stating that I, too, would benefit from knowing more about this. That being the case, I am happy to share what I know and will rely on my readers to share their own experiences of what has worked, or not worked, in this realm. Hopefully your question will start a conversation that will grow and benefit us all.
My initial thought is on the natural tension that must exist between “cultural humility” and cultural pride. The latter seems to be emphasized far more than the former. In posing this question you challenge me to think more carefully about what each means than I ever have before—thanks for that. In doing so I certainly will be following my curiosity, which has me asking, “Where does one begin and the other end?”
Prior to taking this on, I have two questions for you. My hope is that they will help give additional shape and direction to my response.
1) What do you mean by “cultural humility?” (I certainly have an idea, but don’t want to make an assumption about your particular understanding.)
2) Is “inclusive workplace” limited to culturally inclusive, as you are using it? I assume so, because the concept of inclusivity has several other facets.
Thanks—this will be helpful.
Naturally, I am curious about the circumstances which give rise to your question. But I leave it to you if you want to share, now or in due course.
While my ‘Supervision’ post for 8/10 is nearly complete, I will post a response to your question as the subject of my blog on either 8/17 or 8/24.
Thanks for suggesting this topic!