Diversity Matters in District 7
By Gregory P. Townsend
With one of the most diverse workforces in the country and -- what some would consider -- the world, the District 7 seems to represent its own version of the United Nations workforce.
And, apparently it works — or so it seems. According to the mostly-anonymous comments provided by District 7 employees on evaluation questionnaires by those who have attended the monthly Diversity Awareness Training classes, at the District’s main office.
Participants comments include: “I feel that (diversity) training can never be enough in today’s society,” and “The group ice-breaker is the best! I now know my colleagues have interests besides their work!” – in reference to a group exercise in which each participant shares at least one unique fact about themselves, while also contributing to a group list of similar interest each member shares.
According to research conducted by Los Angeles Hotels.com, there are more than 220 different languages spoken in Los Angeles, with more than 140 nationalities represented within the city. Condense those numbers in terms of real people and what you have is a snapshot of what the Caltrans community looks like on any given day.
Does the amalgamation and convergence of such a collection of human beings work here at the District? It does. Having an awareness of each other’s differences, as well as fostering respect and appreciation in the workplace contributes to the productive and professional environment at Caltrans.
Diversity Awareness Training is designed to help teach employees how to recognize, respond to, and resolve difficult interactions that can stem from individual and cultural differences.
Training provides employees with the tools and techniques necessary to meet on common ground. Research suggests that promoting and managing a diverse workforce often contributes to increased staff retention and productivity. It can enhance the organization's responsiveness to an increasingly diverse world of customers, and improve relations with the surrounding communities in which we serve.
“The end result,” according to Equal Employment Office Manager Gwiin Correa, “is a workplace where people want to come – and stay! It seems to be working."
For more information on Diversity Awareness Training, contact EEO Office at (213) 897-0797.