Cultural Sensitivity in the Workplace and Community Discussion

Every human and social services organization may be thought of as its own small ecosystem, operating within the larger ecosystem of the community it serves. The cultural backgrounds of the employees that work at an organization, as well as those of the clients served by the organization, can potentially form a complex matrix of interactions. As professionals bound by laws (e.g., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and by various codes of ethics that are profession-specific (e.g., the NOHS standards), human and social services professionals and the agencies they work within are committed to nondiscrimination and ethical adherence.

There is, however, a difference between adhering to laws and ethics and providing truly culturally sensitive services for client populations. For this Discussion, you explore agency guidelines related to culture and cultural sensitivity and look for possible violations of these guidelines (some of which may be unintentional or well-meaning).

To Prepare:

Choose a local human or social services agency that you are familiar with and find at least one possible violation of the agency’s guidelines with respect to cultural sensitivity.

Consider the following questions as you review the agency’s guidelines:

  • Are there professionals who come from the same ethnic groups served?
  • Are professionals given training on self-reflection in order to be aware of potential bias or or imposing their own values?
  • Are alternative healing practices needed and implemented?
  • How do the cultures in this community view mental health?
  • Are assessments biased in terms of worldview or linguistic accessibility?
  • Are interpreters available for all language groups?
  • Are there cultural differences in symptoms or disorders?
  • Are microaggressions evident?
  • Are services restricted based on religious principles?
  • Are there rules that may apply unequally between women and men?

Post a description of the agency you chose. Next, explain how this agency addresses the issues of ethics training in relation to maintaining appropriate boundaries and cultural sensitivity. Give an example of how the agency responded to a possible violation of their guidelines. Explain how you would have addressed the situation differently and why.

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