• Learn about different cultural styles regarding confrontation and agreement.

• Make sure that language fluency doesn’t give some team members an unfair ad- vantage.

• Create training programs with experien- tial learning, addressing potential situa- tions related to employees’ roles.

The senior living approach More customers today want to engage with companies that not only acknowl- edge diversity and inclusion, but embrace it. Senior living residents, their families, and staff are doing the same. Presbyterian Senior Living (PSL) is an example of an organization who prioritizes a diversity philosophy, making inclusiveness one of their six driving values, said CEO Stephen Proctor. “Everything PSL does in terms of a multicultural experience for residents and staff is an authentic expression of who we are as an organization.” Erickson Living’s senior vice president

of human resources and chief diversity officer Joe Machicote said diversity is also one of their seven values. “Our goal is to speak to every resident and employee with a language that says all people are welcome.” Erickson has created diversity councils to educate and build communities founded on respect and inclusion, he said. This also occurs at the corporate office where they share best practices and wins. The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force

at PSL created Community Diversity Coun- cils, said director of employee education and development, LaJeune Adams. Designed so that a solid framework was available to all communities and is consistent with the goal of celebrating diversity and inclusion, the task force also went out during the first year to speak to the council members and share best practices, survey results, and dis- cuss the path to moving forward. The councils were developed so that

each community could educate and cele- brate diversity at the local level. “All of our communities are different both in residents who live with us and staff who serve these residents,” Adams said. The council leaders

are not director or senior level managers, but supervisors or hourly staff so that the community programs are not seen as some- thing driven by the management.

The inherent challenges of multiculturalism Leading a diverse team requires recognizing the obstacles often embedded in multicul- turalism. Machicote said one goal of their councils is to continually educate as people

rainbow flag so your LGBT residents and prospects will know they’re welcome.

The potential for multicultural teams and leadership Multicultural leadership will continue to play a strong role in senior living as the industry moves forward. “Because we’re living in a so- ciety that is becoming more diverse, it is im- perative that leaders understand and fully ap- preciate the richness that this change brings

“Everything PSL does in terms of a multicultural experience for residents and staff is an authentic expression of who we are as an organization,” said CEO Stephen Proctor.

often have an implicit bias but don’t recog- nize it. “We bring our negative and positive preconceived notions, socializations, and education into each situation. We come with different perspectives,” he said. “We center ourselves in our experiences

and create stereotypes that get in the way. But one challenge to educational opportunities today is that if someone says something that offends us, the relationship can be over. We feel discriminated against. But I think for nine- out-of-ten people that’s not their intention. They usually just don’t know,” Machicote said. Another challenge is understanding the

different cultures and customs as they relate to communication. “What is accepted in Western culture as the norm is not the same in other cultures,” Adams said. As an exam- ple, it can be a sign of disrespect in some cul- tures for people to look directly in the eyes of someone they’re communicating with, where in the Western culture this practice is looked upon as being respectful, she said. It’s also important to recognize that we

may not always be sending the right mes- sage. When we walk into a room, we imme- diately search for visual cues for someone who looks like us or that we can connect with, Machicote said, so he recommends communities have visual cues in place as well. One example he gives is including a

to the workplace,” said Proctor. “The best leaders will embrace this as an opportunity rather than see it as fulfilling an obligation.” When it comes to hiring multicultural

leaders, Machicote said it should still be who is best for the job but from an inten- tional slate of candidates with diverse back- grounds. “We need to diversify the way we look for talent while making sure we don’t close the opportunity for anyone else.” Proctor said he likes Brene Brown’s defini-

tion of belonging as compared to just fitting in. “Belonging is being somewhere where you want to be, and they want you. Fitting in is being somewhere where you really want to be, but they don’t care one way or the other. Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else. I get to be me if I belong. I have to be like you to fit in.” Proctor adds that at PSL it’s their goal to create a space where everyone can belong. Terri Cooper, Deloitte’s Chief Inclusion

Officer wrote earlier this year that expand- ing diversity in the talent pipeline is crucial because the successful company will be the one that brings the newest and best ideas to the table. But you’ll need the right people working in an environment that welcomes courageous conversations. And the right leadership in place to make it happen.


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