James E. Tayor ’00 presented a talk Feb. 6 at Ithaca College about the importance of cultural competency in today’s workforce in relation to his experience in the field of health care. The talk was hosted by the Center for Faculty Excellence and sponsored by Career Services, the Office of Human Resources and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Taylor, the vice president and chief diversity officer at Carolinas HealthCare System, began his presentation by making a key distinction between diversity and inclusiveness. While many companies employ people with various backgrounds, he said, the work environment may not be such that everyone feels comfortable or valued.
“So you can be very diverse, but not very inclusive,” Taylor said. “Or you can have a culture that’s ritually inclusive, but not very diverse.”
Taylor’s main task is to not only establish an open dialogue inside the workplace, he said, but also to create an understanding between the employees and customers. He said there is a growing need for employees in health care to be culturally aware as providers are trying to deliver services that are respectful of and responsive to the health beliefs of various racial and ethnic communities and linguistic groups.
“There is now a demand to meet the patient where they are so that the provider can understand your values, your belief systems and how that interacts with the care we offer them,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the call for employees to be culturally competent has extended to sectors beyond health care, and students can begin preparing for a more dynamic workplace at a collegiate level.
“The first is around developing what you value, what your belief systems are, what biases you’re mindful of,” Taylor said. “Second, I would encourage students to experience some type of a cultural plunge: being in an environment in which they may be uncomfortable to get a feel and flavor for different experiences.”
Junior Zaira Gomez said she was drawn to the presentation because of her major in psychology and was interested in hearing about the evolving human understanding in the workplace.
“It’s exciting to see an alum come back and talk about diversity because it is especially important in institutions that are predominantly a particular race,” Gomez said.
Michelle Rios-Dominguez, manager of diversity and inclusion in Human Resources at the college, said presentations that give students perspective into the changing workforce are crucial.
“As an institution, we always have to understand the changing landscape of the workforce,” Dominguez said. “Ultimately, our No. 1 mission is to prepare students for that workforce and make them competitive in that workforce.”