Have you come across the podcast series called Pod Save America?
One of their pods, alarmingly called Attack of the Racist Babies, centres on the ordeal of Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as she was interrogated by nasty white Republican senators. Judge Jackson is the first black woman to ever be nominated to the Supreme Court. An institution with the power to improve the lives of the population it serves.
During the interrogation, it became clear that the senators want to ban interracial marriage, access to birth control, transgender transitioning, and gay marriage. One of the podcasters succinctly said that if the Republicans got back into power “they will fuck with your life if they win. They will fuck with who you are, who you marry, what you look like, what you do with your own body, what kind of health care you can get, how easy it is for you to vote and whether your vote will even count”.
Non-Republicans were held up in this podcast as people more likely to be tolerant of different cultures and ways of living and being.
I thought of a recent conversation with a friend over mugs of tea and the demands of Michael, a small black and white cat, about how to define the term cultural competency. There is a lot written in New Zealand about how we can be culturally competent in our work lives by understanding the ethnic cultures of clients and co-workers, pronouncing names correctly, speaking a little of their languages, and being respectful of their social mores.
Cultural competency could also be broadened in scope from ethnicity to include sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, and other types of culture.
At this personal level, cultural competency seems to reflect those age-old principles of tolerance and understanding. And at an organisational level? Cultural competency could incorporate a lot more.
Staff hiring practices could reflect back to the country our ethnic, gender, disability and other composition: 17% Māori, 8% Pasifika, 15% Asian, 24% disabled and so on. Check out some statistics.
And remuneration could be fair. You wouldn’t want to see, for example, a disabled transgender employee being paid about half the salary of an able-bodied heterosexual employee who was doing the same job.
And power could be shared. Facilitating a diverse workforce is one thing. Allowing diversity to be reflected around the senior management table is another. Cultural competency may never be more than lip service if decisions cannot be made in true partnership with other cultures in our community.