Bene Gatzert

Bene Gatzert, strategic initiatives manager for University Health Services and an active member of its diversity committee knew that better cultural awareness could lead to better care.

Case Study Highlights

THE CATALYST MOMENT

University Health Services (UHS) partnered with the Multicultural Education Program (MEP) to train their full staff on issues related to diversity, bias, cross-cultural communication, and cultural humility.

BEST PRACTICES

  • Provide interactive workshops.
  • Use a cross-department cohort-training model.
  • Customize workshop content to meet the needs of a specific field, in this case, health services.
  • Develop follow up supports to encourage continued engagement.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • Organizational leadership and buy-in are crucial to sustaining an initiative of this breadth and magnitude.
  • Creating a safe and respectful space is often more easily and effectively done by outside facilitators.
  • An organizational infrastructure must be in place to coordinate, promote, evaluate, and follow-up on training efforts. 

WHAT'S NEXT

  • UHS will continue implementing its cohort training initiative with MEP, as well as maintaining its other equity, inclusion, and diversity efforts. MEP will continue to offer workshops and customized coaching to both administrative and academic units across campus as well as customized services for external clients, including training, facilitator development, and consulting.

Within Berkeley’s University Health Services division (UHS), the diversity committee has big plans for staff development and organizational transformation. In partnership with the campus’s Multicultural Education Program (MEP), the committee recently launched a comprehensive, organization-wide staff training initiative on workplace diversity, unconscious bias, cross-cultural communication, and cultural humility for all employees.

As the university’s health and wellness center, UHS is a vibrant 300+ person organization that provides medical, mental health, and health promotion services to all Berkeley students and occupational health services to faculty and staff. Its diversity committee serves as an advisory group to the executive director and administration.

The diversity committee reached out to MEP for help in designing an organization-wide training effort. Bene Gatzert, UHS strategic initiatives manager and an active member of the diversity committee, shared the purpose for this initiative: “One goal was to explore equity and inclusion issues as they relate to nurturing a vibrant work culture at UHS. Another goal was ensuring our staff is as culturally competent or as culturally humble as they can be in their work because we serve such diverse communities.”

The Multicultural Education Program is one of six initiatives funded by the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund that support institutional change and create a positive campus climate for diversity. The program offers campuswide workshops designed to foster self-awareness, intergroup understanding, and practical skills for building welcoming and healthy environments.

Over the course of two years, most UHS staff members, including part-time staff, will participate in MEP’s three-workshop sequence, after which they will receive a certificate of completion. Supervisors will also go through an additional session on creating inclusive work environments and employing diverse hiring practices.

Diversity committee members coordinated this ambitious project, dividing UHS staff into approximately 15 cross-departmental cohorts. To build respect and community across the organization, each cohort intentionally includes participants from several UHS program areas — for example, counseling services, medical records, physical therapy, and information technology.

Along with the regular training curriculum, MEP staff tailored the UHS workshops to a health service audience, orienting their instructional focus to suit the unique set of issues that arise in the healthcare field. As Diane Drew, the manager of the information center at UHS, explained, “Many of our patients are visiting scholars, international students, people from all over the community, from all over the world. You have to be more patient and have to understand that they’re coming from a different lifestyle and environment.”

Each of MEP’s workshops consists of facilitator-led interactions, experiential learning techniques, and interactive exchanges between participants, including exercises such as one-minute autobiographical exchanges. Participants are invited to “step up, then step back,” to make their contribution to the group and then allow others to do the same.

“You have to ask yourself ‘What am I going to focus on? What’s important to me?’ and then you learn the same thing about the other person.”

—Greg Ryan

“One minute is not a lot of time,” said Greg Ryan, an ergonomist at UHS, and one of the co-chairs of the diversity committee. “You have to ask yourself ‘What am I going to focus on? What’s important to me?’ and then you learn the same thing about the other person. In a short period of time, you get to know someone a lot closer than you knew them before. It forces you to think about your life in a different light and think about someone else’s life in a different light as well.”

Today, UHS administration is developing an evaluation plan to quantify the success of the workshop requirement. In the meantime, UHS staff members are more openly discussing issues of diversity and inclusion both within their units and with members of their cohorts.

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