As a student enrolled in a Strategic Human Resource Management class, I was extended the opportunity to attend a Diversity seminar hosted by Central Illinois Council Society of Human Resource Management (CIC-SHRM). Reluctant to take off work and make the drive to Springfield, IL from Champaign, IL, at the conclusion of the event my feelings were different. Beyond being greeted with breakfast, I found that this learning event was, informative in substance, provided a glimpse of CIC-SHRM’s opportunities, certifications, objectives, and an opportunity to network with other HR professionals.
The seminar, “Ensuring a Culturally Competent Workforce” was presented by Lorena Johnson, Director of the CPM Program at UIS, has an extensive background in Professional Development and Diversity Education. The learning objectives where to define cultural diversity; the changing demographics in the 21st century (race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, etc.); the new economic reality (doing more with less, working in teams, Hierarchical to flat organizational structures, singular job duties to multi-duties); and creating an innovative, dynamic and productive work environment (coordination and collaboration, cross-colonization, and multiple ideas approaches). She contends that a culturally competent workforce extends not only to employees but also to organizational leaders and managers which creates “mutual competency. She defines diversity in her own words and highlights that diversity is more than just race and ethnicity but where you live and organizational culture. Building from this foundation she defines cultural competency as it relates to organizational culture and climate:
The ability to obtain cultural knowledge and skills and then apply those knowledge skills to understand communication, interacts, and works respectively with people from other cultures.
Building upon this discussion she talked at length about the layers of organizational culture; organizational approaches to diversity (affirmative action, value, and competency); surveying the climate of organizations and how culturally competent they are using a prescribed developmental model; the strategic approach to organizational cultural competency; and cultural maintenance.
Again, I think this seminar was very informative and tied directly to the substance of the SHRM class. The literature detailed the importance of being organizationally culturally competent and how it should be a part of the strategic HR planning. It further described the importance of maintenance and continued growth and development as part of the organizational standard. I really enjoyed the CIC- SHRM presentation and look forward to other opportunities in the future.