A New Zealand education institute has taken a step closer toward embracing cultural diversity in its workforce.
Auckland-based Unitec Institute of Technology employs 1100 staff from different ethnicities, serving 10,000 students hailing from a diverse cultural backgrounds.
The institute now runs diversity workshops for its workforce, designed by the Office of Ethnic Affairs.
The Intercultural Awareness and Communication workshops helps staff to build awareness of their cultural characteristics and those of others, so they can communicate more effectively, says a report by the Office. The programme focuses on using effective communication to build the kinds of relationships that work well in the workplace.
It was critical to initiate something to improve intercultural competence across the institute considering Unitec’s super diversity, says Matthew Farry, Manager of Equity and Diversity at Unitec, in the report.
“The training is intended to take intercultural interactions across our organisation from a state of indifferent co-existence to meaningful engagement across social and cultural boundaries.”
Kate Quigan, Unitec’s International Administration Manager, says “the training helps us to stop making quick assumptions about people we come in contact with, and to appreciate the differences and be aware of the similarities as well.”
Ricky Waters, Unitec’s Co-ordinating Chaplain noted that “it was a great seminar, especially for those with limited experience dealing with people from other cultures as well as those who have not lived in a culturally diverse place before.”
Twenty Unitec staff took part in the “Training for Trainers” workshop and have now started to train their colleagues, the report said.