Updated: Jun 15
PREFACE FROM THE FOUNDER AND CEO, SEEMA JAIN:
I want to share a story that really caught my attention this year and highlights colleagues who truly “walk the talk” when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Earlier this year, I received a message on my website inquiring about Seva Global services. The DEI Director of an organization asked if he could schedule a call with me. During our introductory meeting, he asked if I would be a panelist for an upcoming DEI event. I was interested but wanted to make sure my time and travel were compensated. As a small business entrepreneur, I don’t have the funding of a large corporation, and each day I am away from my office is time away from connecting with clients and supporting my business. When this DEI Director asked for my program fees, I gave him what I believed was a fair quote based on travel and preparation time. Imagine my shock when upon submitting the invoice, he asked us to increase the amount by nearly 40%! I have never had a client request to pay more than billed. So, what happened? The DEI Director ensured my fees were equitable to what his organization was paying the male panelists. I was impressed this man truly practices what he preaches! He recognized supplier diversity was important. The goal was to ensure that regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, that members of his panel were being treated equitably. If you lead an organization or own a business, it’s worth asking: • Do you and your organization have a pay equity calculator? • Do you proactively make sure all pay is gender neutral? In addition to sharing this story, I want to thank our clients we served in the last few months. Thank you to The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, The Society for Standards Professionals, Marriott International, G6 Hospitality, Visit Dallas, and Asian American Hotel Owners Association for new opportunities with your teams. I also want to thank The Lodging Conference for the wonderful opportunity to network with such prestigious industry colleagues a few weeks ago in Phoenix. If you have training funds left for 2022, please reach out to us for a Q4 booking. We would love to increase your team’s cultural competency. It would be a great way to end the year!
THIS EDITION'S CULTURAL COMPETENCY TIP: LANGUAGE Have you ever spoken to someone for whom English is not their native language? If so, it’s worth pausing to consider how certain words may differ in meaning for each person. The use of slang can cause great confusion. Some phrases are not recognized in the same manner across cultures. One of my favorites is the common expression, “YOU HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK!” Most native American English speakers understand the baseball reference and that this is a form of praise and means that you did a great job! However, for someone who has never heard this before, it might be misunderstood by thinking someone literally hit something or could simply be a confusing expression. Be mindful when speaking to avoid slang phrases or, if you are using them, to clarify their meaning and provide extra context.
Another thing to keep remember is that even among native English speakers, words and phrases may mean something different regionally (ex: “wicked” in the Boston/Northeast). Sometimes this means that there is simply uncertainty about what is being expressed; however, at other times a saying or even a colloquial use of a word may be offensive. It’s worth doing a little research to find out the origins of some of the common expressions you use.
Picture yourself visiting another country where you are conversational, but not a native speaker, in that country’s language. Imagine that everyone is speaking quickly and you are having a difficult time comprehending. It can be frustrating. Now, think how someone feels when they are not proficient in English. Our speech isn’t enunciated, and we tend to talk fast. Always take a moment to place yourself in another person’s shoes and be mindful of pace and pronunciation differences. When my family from India comes to the USA, they tell me that they don’t have accents, but that Americans do. I never stopped to think from their lens, but now am much more cognizant when speaking to someone from another country.
Words matter greatly, and language is the first step to forming great relationships with all whom we interact, including our clients, vendors, and employees of different backgrounds.
NEXT CHAPTER: NEW LGBTQ+ PROGRAM In August 2022, Seva Global launched its new LGBTQ+ program. The culturally immersive program is tailored toward HR professionals and focused on attraction, retention, and engagement of LBGTQ+ associates and customers. The goal is to increase cultural competency by learning about LGBTQ+ history, demographics, market trends, and industry best practices. This interactive session includes group activities and is meant to help you understand the mindset of your LGBTQ+ colleagues, customers, and vendors. Attendees will better understand how cultural competency can elevate employee engagement and retention, as well as enhance customer experiences and drive sales results. Seva Global will customize the presented materials to meet the special needs of your industry. We are excited to help you on the road to success by elevating understanding of this culture. Please reach out to email@example.com if you are interested in bringing this program to your organization.
TRAVEL SAFELY, TRAVEL WELL:
Seema’s 2022 schedule continues to keep her traveling around the country! If she is in your city and you’d like to schedule some time together for an in-person visit, please let us know.
Cincinnati - AAHOA Women’s Event - October 26-27
Dallas – November 30 - December 1
Washington DC - December 12-14
India (PTO) - December 22-January 5
Atlanta - IHG - January 9-10
A GOODR Story
IHG Hotels and Resorts launched the Journey to Tomorrow program in early 2021. It is a series of commitments to make a difference for people, communities, and the planet. Hotels and food service organizations often have extra food. Sharon Kilmartin, Area General Manager, took this opportunity to partner with GOODR to help address this and impact hunger. She partnered with GOODR to rescue surplus foods from the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia hotel food service operations and get it in the hands of local non-profit partners. GOODR thinks, “Hunger isn’t a scarcity issue. It’s a matter of logistics.” Believing they need to “feed more and waste less,” they designed a way to harvest the extra food from these establishments and get it to those who need it by using logistics and technology to track and deliver the surplus foods. An app makes it easy to donate and deliver. This technology allows GOODR to track the impact and share with Sharon and her team who celebrate making a difference. To date they have donated 744 meals and diverted 893 pounds of waste from landfills. Jasmine Crow, Founder and CEO of GOODR, said, “We welcome the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter to the GOODR family of partners and look forward to helping them manage their carbon footprint by reducing the food going into landfills.” Jasmine is described as the fearless founder and was named one of the top 100 influential female founders by Entrepreneur magazine. She also was the 35th Black woman to raise more than $1 million in venture capital. This partnership shows that putting great minds together can help make the world a better place to live. Congratulations to Sharon and her team for making a difference.
Do you have a #mysevastory you’d like us to highlight? Let us know how you are helping a customer, colleague, community, family, or friend with cultural competence! You can send your “#mysevastory” to Tim Vesperman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kevin Rocio, @Properties Commercial Real Estate Broker
Why is cultural competency so important in real estate? I never knew that in certain cultures, auspicious dates and times were important for house closings, property closings, wedding dates, and decision-making.
When my Indian client bought her first multi-family apartment building, she insisted that we change the closing date to an auspicious date. She explained that auspicious dates are considered “lucky” and that the property would do well if the closing was on one of them.
The same client then listed the current home on 6/8 (lucky Chinese numbers, #6 and #8). I found out that “8” sounds like wealth when spoken in Chinese. Though my client is Indian-American, she believes in Chinese lucky numbers. She received an offer on the home and the potential buyer informed us that they could not sign the contract until July 23, 2021, which was an auspicious date for them. Understanding the importance of these dates, we scheduled the closing based on their wishes.
If realtors would take the time to understand their clients and their cultural beliefs, it can make a significant business impact. Simple things like numbers, dates, and directions can help you connect with your clients. Always keep learning and ask questions in an authentic manner. Doing so has made a big difference for me.
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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