At Family Services of Greater Vancouver, diversity is one of our core values, and we take staffing diversity very seriously. Tina Yazdanfar is a family counsellor at our Family Preservation and Reunification Services, where she works with clients coming from a myriad of cultural backgrounds. To her, having a diverse staff group is key to ensuring that the program meets the multicultural needs of its clients.
Why Diversity is Important
Tina mentioning the following benefits of diversity in the workplace:
It makes an agency more welcoming and inclusive. She defines inclusive as containing a part of the whole. Such agencies can best meet the needs of a multicultural society. An inclusive agency must portray society as a smaller picture to best address the needs of the individuals of that society.
It demonstrates the openness and the value that an agency has for individuals from diverse backgrounds; and that they are a part of the whole.
It can balance the power imbalance that exists in the society between majority groups and minority groups (based on ethnicity, sexual identity, sexual orientation, and more). It can be empowering for a member of a minority group to see another individual from a minority group as a service provider or a professional in a position of authority.
It also makes minority groups feel like there is room for them in society. This is crucial to the development and maintenance of multiculturalism. People in minority groups often don’t disclose their struggles and challenges for fear of being misunderstood, judged, or stigmatized. These fears might be reduced if they’re connected with a services provider with a similar cultural background or life experiences such as immigration.
Benefits of Multilingualism
Another benefit of staffing diversity is being able to address clients in different languages. Tina elaborated on these specific benefits by saying, “Clients often say that they can express themselves better in their first language and speak more easily and comfortably. The inability to express one’s self fully can slow progress in counselling, decrease the depth of therapeutic work, and influence rapport building. At times, due to a lack of a services provider in a specific language, a translator needs to be hired. This serves as another barrier because then there is another person involved who the client has to trust to express their needs and share personal secrets with. Having staff members who speak different languages can widen the scope of services provided and bridge language barriers and challenges.”
Ideal Staff Diversity
According to Yazdanfar, an ideal diversely-staffed workplace would consist of a mixture of staff from majority and minority groups in all positions, which includes service providers, the management team, leaders, and stakeholders. Within Family Preservation and Reunification Services, there are 14 family counsellors from different cultural backgrounds who are able to provide counselling in 12 languages.
Helping Clients in a Welcoming Environment
Tina says that many families who might not have otherwise engaged in counselling or received support got what they needed at Family Preservation and Reunification Services without hiring translators. She also mentions that clients enter a welcoming office space because it demonstrates multiculturalism through a diversity of staff, which instantly helps to create a feeling of belonging.
If you’re looking for a meaningful career that will make a difference in a diversely-staffed workplace, visit our careers page.