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Tackling cultural awareness training with sensitivity and humour

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Introducing cultural awareness training into any workplace can be a sensitive issue.

Construction company Naylor Love prides itself on becoming an increasingly culturally diverse business. As part of that they wanted to roll out a cultural awareness programme to its team to ensure everyone felt safe, engaged and understood at work.

When it came to putting the programme together they turned to Skills Consulting Group (SCG) to create a pilot programme that would be helpful and informative, but also relaxed and enjoyable so attendees were open and keen to participate.

Naylor Love General Manager for People and Culture Pam McGarry says the pilot has rolled out to 4 out of 6 regions with 16 mostly management staff attending each one and they have all been very successful.

“The feedback has been excellent. A lot of the participants have said it really opened their eyes, helped them understand different protocols and encouraged them to start using te reo, and give it a go.”

Though the one-day workshops focused on Māori and Pasifika cultural awareness it also had a wider focus on being self-aware and respectful when dealing with any culture.

“A key emphasis was really being respectful and putting relationships before the business, and being more aware of unconscious bias, which is something everybody has but we don’t often realise it,” Pam says. “It’s about getting people to pause when they make a decision and just do that self check-in on why they’re making that assumption.”

Though pandemic disruption prevented the wider rollout of the workshops within the company, they are now underway again for Naylor Love. The company is also looking at including some of the key messages from the workshops in its in-house e-learning portal, to keep the work front and centre for the team in their day-to-day operations.

Naylor Love will work with SCG to further develop e-learning content based off these workshops.

“One of our key goals as a company is to be a diverse workforce,” says Pam. “To do that we have to raise cultural awareness and help educate people.”

She adds that one of the reasons the workshops were so well received was the ability of the SCG facilitators to keep the sessions relaxed.

“They were very good at using humour and keeping things fun. That is so important with a topic like cultural awareness, and it really helps get people on board and doing the work in the sessions.

“We are very pleased with how the workshops were delivered, and how it has been received.”

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