A personal journey towards intercultural competency in the workplace

Guest Blog by Jake Jude

Although the concept of a Caucasian male speaking on integrating as a minority in the workplace seems odd, I was afforded the opportunity to learn through the research done for this project, as well as experientially through my internship work in Africa, in order to improve my intercultural competency in the workplace.

Much of the literature that exists comments on the need for individuals to be exposed to the culture of minorities they work with, in order to find ways to work more cohesively with each other and achieve a goal that benefits everybody. It is a system that puts heavy emphasis on the reciprocity of respect in the exchange of information. Much of the research conducted found that minorities find the most amount of difficulty understanding information, directions or criticisms when the messages are coded through archaic methods of communication; communicators who still operate using ageist, sexist or even racist undertones do not attribute to a positive, efficient and safe work environment.

Participating in an internship crew meeting in Zimbabwe

Personally, I have worked in an NGO (non-governmental organization) setting, where I was working among many African born members, as well as members of the LGBTQ and several women in positions of authority. As the only member of my own culture group, I felt like a fish out of water, but learning as much as I could about the language, the holidays and the communication systems helped me to grow within the organization and ultimately as an intern and future employee.

Returning from my work in that setting and back into north American society, I have learned that patience, plain language and direct communication are extremely important when it comes to establishing a professional relationship and working together to get a job done. With respect to this project, in a group capacity, I have added to the  conversation by suggesting themes that some of my other groupmates (a white Canadian womn, an international student from the Punjab, India and an immigrant mom from China) have been focusing on related to intercultural competency in the workplace in our original plan, I volunteered to be the member of the group who pulled all of the work together into a single presentation.

As the COVID_19 pandemic hit us here at the University of the Fraser Valley and interfered with our original plans to interact with other students through displays, I hope you enjoy reading, and can learn from, our individual portions in these blog postings.

For more detailed information here are some great information sources:

Aguirre, A. (2000). Women and minority faculty in the academic workplace[microform] :
recruitment, retention, academic culture [Washington, DC : ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education]. George Washington University, Dept. of Education.

Grant, M. G. (2020). Culture War in the Workplace. New Republic, 251(1/2), 20–29.

Leeming, D. E., & Mora, M. D. I. (2016). Work Based Learning in Intercultural Settings: A
Model in Practice. In Research-publishing.net. Research-publishing.net.

Lüdi, G., Höchle Meier, K., & Yanaprasart, P. (2016). Managing Plurilingual and Intercultural
Practices in the Workplace: The Case of Multilingual Switzerland. John Benjamins
Publishing Company. 320.

Mickahail, B. K., & Aquino, C. T. E. de. (2019). Effective and creative leadership in diverse
workforces improving organizational performance and culture in the workplace. Chapter 4:
Leadership, Culture, and Innovation. 66.