The Benefits of Improving Cultural Competency in the Workplace

March 15, 2021
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Companies that ensure all employees — regardless of their culture or background — feel included, supported and valued are better positioned for success. In fact, those in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns greater than their industry means, according to a McKinsey & Company study. 

The advantages extend beyond just fiscal, too. A culturally competent workplace can lead to increased creativity, improved listening and increased empathy toward others’ feelings — to name a few. 

Below, Rachel Burnside, DEI manager at Favor, and Sylvia Krzmarzick, chief people officer at Digital Turbine explained what their respective companies are doing to practice and improve cultural competency. The leaders also shared examples of what their strategies look like in action. 

 

Rachel Burnside
Manager, DEI

Favor is an on-demand delivery app, promising users personal deliveries of anything in under an hour. To help employees practice and improve their cultural competency, the company created seven unique employee resource groups. DEI Manager Rachel Burnside said that ERG events include learning labs on a variety of topics, virtual parties, town hall meetings, roundtables and more. 

 

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

Here at Favor, we encourage our team members to not only bring their full selves to work, but to also find common ground and celebrate our diversity together. We’ve created seven unique employee resource groups to help our team members find a place where they can relate, educate, grow and find allyship with others who want to support and stand in the gap. 

We offer learning labs that not only help with career development but also focus on key issues and conversations with topics including “Understanding Racism & Privilege,” “Reimagining Motherhood,” and “Amplifying Black Queer Voices.” We also recently issued our diversity data survey to team members to help us move from assumption to reality. We will use the results from this survey to help inform policy, programming and opportunities provided to team members.

 

How does your company promote or celebrate cultural diversity in the workplace? 

At Favor, we celebrate cultural diversity in a variety of different ways. By acknowledging a wide variety of holidays, spotlighting team members internally and externally and providing opportunities to give back, we seek to give team members and the communities around us the ability to support and celebrate in their own unique way. During this past holiday season, our ERG co-chairs hosted an internal virtual party called “How Do You Holiday?” that allowed team members to share their unique experiences during the holidays. 

Our team members are able to acknowledge our cultural diversity and celebrate it alongside one another.”

With the help of our communities, we raised over a quarter of a million dollars through Favor’s We Stand Together Fund in 2020 to support organizations working to create actionable, meaningful and lasting change toward racial justice and equity. Through every giving initiative, Favor seeks to provide education around why we are giving, who we are giving to and how those demographics are impacted.

 

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

One of our four core values at Favor is “community first.” A crucial part of living this value out day to day is cultural competence and how we interact, communicate and relate to one another. Through a variety of different platforms, such as ERG meetings and Slack channels, weekly town hall meetings, social media posts and more, our team members are able to acknowledge our cultural diversity and celebrate that diversity alongside one another. 

Our managers also have the opportunity each month to attend a manager roundtable to develop their skills and learn new and effective ways of supporting their team members. Our December Roundtable, “Managing Across Differences,” focused on cultural competence, recognizing the diversity within our teams, and supporting team members in the best way unique to each of them.

 

Sylvia Krzmarzick
Chief People Officer

Digital Turbine is an on-demand media platform that provides users with content discovery, user acquisition and engagement, operation efficiency and monetization opportunities. In order to help employees practice and improve their cultural competency, the company encourages participation in community action teams. Chief People Officer Sylvia Krzmarzick said that these teams focus their actions on a range of topics including global inclusiveness, health and safety, learning and education and more.

 

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

Over half of our population across every level and department participated in community action teams. These action teams have four key themes: culture and values; global inclusiveness and remote work; health and safety; and learning and education. Through them, we discussed how social justice, inclusion and equality are reflected and represented in our values and how we can improve team cohesion, collaboration and feeling of community. 

The community action teams have kicked off work that will be measured with KPIs so that we are marking progress while taking action. Finally, this team has rallied to deliver unprecedented profitability while trusting the company enough with authentic feedback and stories so that our actions are tangible.

 

How does your company promote or celebrate cultural diversity in the workplace? 

One of the core values that we take pride in is “global.” We’re a diverse company with team members in time zones across all continents. We host quarterly value awards where all employees can nominate and celebrate a co-worker who has found ways to bring the team together despite the miles between them. The global value award is designed to recognize those who utilize thinking outside the box to provide a global solution.

Each individual is encouraged to work in a way that best fits their life.’’

We also don’t prescribe holidays so that all of our employees can prioritize the holidays that are meaningful to them and their cultures.

We’ve attended diverse recruiting events, we’re a sponsoring member of Austin Women in Technology and revel in the opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life. Our team and our clients reflect this sentiment of diversity, where everyone can bring their authentic self to work.

 

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

We schedule meetings with different office schedules (time zones and local holidays) in mind.

Our all-hands meetings are equal parts business and people-focused, shining a light on how our hustle and results relate to our people and vice versa. We also schedule all-hands in different time zones — have them twice in one day. CEO Bill Stone has done an all-hands from Singapore or a different global office and the U.S. team watches it at a later time.

Perhaps most importantly, our freedom and global values merge in that each individual is encouraged to work in a way that best fits their life.

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