Diversity Matters

hands-for-helen-smallestOne of the main reasons I chose to pursue a PhD was to be able to get answers to questions that I was asking as a practitioner that I believed weren’t being studied. As a leader I saw issues that I believed needed to be addressed but not the evidence base to support the change. I conducted qualitative research before I knew what those words meant. After presenting the results to a group of about 150 leaders, one of them told me to present my results at a conference because this was the type of information people needed to know about. That initial research was titled: Understanding the Healthcare Challenges and Needs of Immigrant and Refugee women in Lincoln, Nebraska. The results of that research impacted the design, layout, structure and process of healthcare delivery at The Women’s & Children’s Health Services at The Health System. Even the head of that division was specifically hired with the identified needs in mind (Dr. Albert Ansah, Neonatologist, is from Ghana). I consider that to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my career.

One of the main areas of interest for me is developing cultural competence in health care providers and leaders. I began using the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) with students at Bryan College of Health Sciences as a way to help them understand that their level of cultural competence will impact how they approach their patients’ cultural differences. Prior to entering the PhD program, in 2008, with the support of the college President, we implemented the use of the IDI with all incoming and graduating students with specific and targeted interventions during their degree program. Since then, I have recommended and have seen implemented the use of the IDI as a developmental tool for faculty and staff (research literature indicates that faculty and staff cannot grow students’ level of cultural competence beyond their own level of cultural competence). As a result of my research, the college has implemented a diversity advisory board (which I serve on), education for faculty and staff (which I’ve provided input for), and interventions for native born students to grow in their cultural competence and for foreign born students to succeed in academia. We are continuing this collection of data and will use it in a longitudinal study of students, faculty and its impact on patients’ clinical outcomes and student success.

Another key area of interest is in the use of the constructs of Emotional Intelligence and Diversity as the process for developing cultural competence in emerging leaders. I have used this method for teaching a 400-level Leadership and Diversity course at UNL. I have administered the IDI at the beginning and end of the semester; and the results shown growth in students’ level of cultural competence.

Being an immigrant who has navigated the challenges of life in another culture, and having risen to leadership roles in a variety of global settings has led me to believe that there are many other immigrants and refugees who are capable of being effective global leaders. I believe using the constructs of Authentic Leadership Development, Positive Psychological Capital and Intercultural Development together I can create a model for educating immigrants and refugees to become multilingual global leaders.

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Need help in the area of diversity and cultural sensitivity? We can conduct individual and group assessments, and provide plans and coaching designed to move you towards your goals.