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DSM Fellowship Program Fellows Look to Improve Cultural Awareness

Cultural Awareness in the Workplace

October 29, 2021

It is no secret that diversity in the workplace has been, continues to be and will very likely remain to be a key component in businesses not only throughout Greater Des Moines (DSM), but across Iowa, the country and the world. Diversity of thoughts, ideas, ways of life and cultures are all vital ingredients that help to make up a successful business. In a recent learning session with Tero International, the DSM Fellowship Program Fellows were able to take a deep dive into cultural awareness through the Global Proficiency session.

Intercultural Development Inventory Assessment

As a part of this particular class, the Fellows paired up with one of the trainers at Tero to discuss our individual results from a brief assessment that we took prior to the class. This assessment, called the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), had the Fellows reflect on our experiences in which we interacted with people from different cultures and how we responded to the cultural differences that we experienced during those interactions. The goal of the assessment is to allow those who take it to become more aware of the value that multiple cultures bring to the table, as well as how to accentuate our understanding of the differences and commonalities between cultures.

Understanding the Different Stages of Cultural Awareness

During the individual session with the Tero representative, we discussed our scores and how they relate to our current life situations. The discussions covered external influences that have shaped, currently shape and will continue to shape our perceptions of cultural differences, as well as how to advance and develop our cultural mindsets to a more comprehensive level. As those influences were identified, we were then able to discuss the different stages of cultural awareness and how to advance from one stage to the next. For me, the test was valuable in not only level setting where on that scale of cultural awareness I am at currently, but also what it takes to reach that next level of awareness.

One of my biggest takeaways from the Global Proficiency session was how I can improve on my cultural awareness. Some actions that I had previously thought bridged the gap between cultures may actually prove to result in the opposite effect. This was a major talking point in my interview with the Tero representative: after identifying the actions that were previously imagined as impactful in cultural interaction, what steps can I take to alter that mindset to one that is more adaptive and inclusive of different cultures.

The Global Proficiency session showed me that I, and anyone else who takes the IDI assessment that accompanies this Tero class, am not culturally unaware, but moreover that there is, like many other areas in life, always room to grow. Concepts like cross-cultural interaction and diversity of thoughts in the workplace are not static ideas; these are concepts that are continually evolving, and they are not concepts that will disappear over time. To match the fluidity of the idea of awareness in cross-cultural interaction, I believe that there is a great deal of value in reflecting on past personal experiences with people of other cultures, identifying that next level of cultural awareness to enable more effective communication in future conversations, establishing steps that can be taken to reach that next level and actively pursuing opportunities to put those steps into practice.

See Tyler Tebo’s recent DSM Fellowship Program interview to learn more about the program and how it helps professionals develop their skills.

The DSM Fellowship program is the preeminent professional development initiative attracting, developing and retaining a diverse community of top-tier graduates to Greater Des Moines (DSM).

Tyler Tebo

Tyler Tebo is a technology development associate at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Tyler is currently pursuing a Master's in Business Analytics degree through the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, traveling and spending time with family and friends.