Updated: Aug 10
PREFACE FROM THE FOUNDER AND CEO, SEEMA JAIN:
Happy New Year! I hope your 2023 is off to a great start and you had time to recharge over the holiday break. I just returned from a wonderful vacation in India for the first time since the pandemic. As much as I love learning about other cultures, this trip was a special opportunity to re-immerse myself – and my children – in our own culture, and to spend time with much of our extended family.
As we head into the new year, I am sure many of you have thought about your personal and professional resolutions. One of my personal goals is to reduce phone usage during non-work hours.
On a professional level, my goal is to expand Seva Global by having more diverse offerings and team members. At Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business (where my youngest daughter, Sanjana, goes to school), I saw this sign:
Diverse Teams Rise Above. Companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially.
I wholeheartedly believe in this and want to make sure I “walk the talk” in my own efforts to expand our team’s diversity. Currently, we represent multiple generations ranging in age from 22 to 81, with a variety of cultural backgrounds. I have already identified my next team member – someone who comes from the Latinx community. It is one of my core values to have a diverse team and to cherish the different perspectives that everyone brings to the table.
How diverse is your team? Does everyone on your team look like you?
How can you increase the diversity on your team?
How can you better source diverse candidates?
Can you share a best practice on diverse talent acquisition?
NEXT CHAPTER — CULTURAL CELEBRATIONS PACKAGE:
We are excited to announce a new product offering! Our Cultural Celebrations package will enhance your team’s cultural competency with four Heritage History Months and 10 Cultural Holidays. These factsheets will help you educate your teams and customers on the important traditions of each of these holidays and offer activation ideas to celebrate each one. Heritage Months
Black History Month (February)
Asian-Pacific Islander History Month (May)
Pride Month (June)
Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15)
Lunar New Year (Begins January 22, 2023)
Carnival (Begins February 17, 2023)
Holi (March 8, 2023)
Ramadan / Eid al-Fitr (Begins March 22, 2023)
Juneteenth (June 19, 2023)
Rosh Hashanah / Yom Kippur (Begins September 15, 2023/Begins September 24, 2023)
Día de Los Muertos (Begins November 1, 2023)
Diwali (November 12, 2023)
Hanukkah (Begins December 7, 2023)
Kwanzaa (Begins December 26, 2023)
Included in this package is a series of 30-minute webinars that allows you to focus on the four most important holidays for your company and industry. Dive deeper into the observance, build your knowledge, and learn best practices on how to celebrate these different cultural traditions. We would love to share more about how this new product can increase your team’s cultural competency! Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
LGBTQ+ — PLAN FOR PRIDE 2023:
Although most cities and countries hold their annual pride festivals in June, now is the time to get your team members ready. We expect 2023 to be a year full of celebrations. Seva Global has LGBTQ+ programs that focus on learning more about LGBTQ+ culture in order to drive sales, customer satisfaction, and attraction and retention of employees. All programs can be customized to meet your specific needs and audience, and they make for highly engaging customer events. Please reach out to email@example.com to learn more.
THIS EDITION'S CULTURAL COMPETENCY TIP — DATES AND TIMES:
As we begin a new year (and struggle to all remind ourselves to write “2023” instead of “2022”), we should not assume everyone writes dates and times the same way. For example, in the U.S., we write 01/10/23 (MM/DD/YY) to indicate the date January 10, 2023. However, in many parts of the world, it would be written as 10/01/23 (DD/MM/YY), where the month precedes the date. Make sure you are very clear when working with international colleagues or clients to avoid miscommunication when discussing dates.
Time can also be written differently across the world in terms of whether a culture uses standard time or 24-hour time (military time). Fun fact: Did you know that the beginning of the 24-hour clock is rooted in early Egyptian culture?
24-hour time means that 12:00 am, or midnight, is written as 00:00, 1:00 am is written as 01:00. If the time is past noon, then you add 12 to the hour rather than resetting it. For instance, 1:00 pm becomes 13:00 and is pronounced “13 hundred hours.” It can take a little getting used to, but it is important to understand if you frequently work with colleagues who use military time when scheduling calls and meetings.
OUR NEWEST TEAM MEMBER — INTRODUCING EMMA ADELMAN:
On behalf of the Seva Global Team, we are excited to announce the addition of Emma Adelman to our team. Her experience comes from a variety of sectors including association management and consulting, the start-up and non-profit sector, and one of the world's largest ski-holding companies. She brings an array of marketing and project management skills to our team and will be instrumental in helping us design our forthcoming Jewish Culture Day workshop.
Emma lives in Washington, D.C., and enjoys exploring all D.C. has to offer including its vast museum and art scene, diplomatic relations, and the amazing outdoors. In winter, you can find her skiing and watching ACC and UConn women's basketball. She also loves experimenting in all culinary pursuits.
Emma is passionate and engaged as she works to make the world a better place. Creating commonalities, building bridges, and breaking down stereotypes are what drive her both personally and professionally. Welcome, Emma!
#MYSEVASTORY — SUSAN DICKSON AND AMANDA HENRY:
Cultural Competency Wins the Business!
Susan Dickson is with the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country, and she knows the value and power of cultural competency. She hosted an Indian Culture 101 + Indian Weddings training for her team, and it paid off! Her catering manager, Amanda Henry, had a customer frantically approach her. The parents had secured space at a competitor hotel for their son’s Indian wedding and the hotel was unable to uphold certain requirements set out in the contract. The parents were in a panic and started reaching out to other hotels to find an alternative space. When they contacted Amanda, she had the training and confidence to speak knowledgeably about the many details of an Indian wedding. This immediately put the couple at ease. The couple was so comfortable with Amanda and impressed with her knowledge of Indian culture, they asked to book on the spot. Amanda took a few minutes to draw up a contract and the couple signed right away! The wedding is valued at $134,000 and will give the hotel 100+ room nights as well. The wedding will take place in June of this year, and preparations are already underway. The family has a wedding planner assisting them, and in one of the first meetings the planner noted how impressed she was with the entire hotel team’s professionalism, knowledge, and flexibility, and said she would be referring other customers to the hotel. Congratulations to Susan for knowing the value and importance of cultural competency, and congratulations to Amanda for winning the business with her great customer service and cultural confidence!
Roz Stuttley, CMP, CDE (She/Her) Director, Equity and Inclusion, Choose Chicago
I’ve always had a sense of curiosity of other cultures.
Growing up, I attended a predominantly white high school and college. It was the norm for me, a person identifying as Black, to be one of few minorities participating in Spanish Club, a play, or writing for the school newspaper. I discovered early on that I needed to figure out how to relate to other people – those who looked like me and those who didn’t.
Thought-provoking conversations and enjoying the discovery of someone else’s background, story, or journey gave me a sense of fulfillment. Call it my love for journalism.
Now, as I reflect on my career path, and embracing becoming a DEI practitioner, I realize celebration and awareness of other cultures has been a thread weaving throughout my education and career.
I firmly believe individuals cannot undervalue the importance of cultural competency which, in its most simplistic form, means: The ability to relate and work effectively with others across cultural differences, whether those differences are related to working styles, experiences, identities, beliefs, or other factors.
As individuals and organizations strengthen their awareness and acceptance of diverse cultures, this presents an opportunity for greater business outcomes including stronger customer relationships and increased employee satisfaction.
So where are you on your cultural awareness journey? For me, it’s an ongoing curiosity. And I feel honored to be a part of a team committed to growth in cultural competency. This does not mean we will always get it right, but we are committed to getting better and better. What about you?
Seva Global offers a wide array of services to foster cultural competence across organizations. Through our customized solutions and consultations, we can help to increase employee engagement, enhance customer experience, and drive bottom line results. Our goal is to help teams become more culturally competent when engaging with people from different backgrounds. We would love your feedback on this newsletter. Please share with anyone you think it may interest!
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