Diversity can seem like a complex concept sometimes and it may seem confusing, especially when you consider how best you can promote diversity positively in your workplace.
Here are some simple suggestions to start you off!
As a midwife representing your chosen hospital or institution you can:
- Know your employer’s diversity policy and adhere to it at all times.
- Learn about different cultures and traditions which exist in the UK today so that you can better understand the kind of differences that may arise.
- Ask your co-workers from other countries and backgrounds about themselves! They may be happy you have asked and you might be surprised by what you learn.
- If you make a mistake that leads to a misunderstanding, keep calm, apologise and explain what led to the confusion.
- Welcome ideas that are different from your own and see things from a fresh perspective.
- Treat everyone that you encounter with the same level of politeness and professionalism – don’t judge people based on stereotypes!
- Be patient when there are times when people find things difficult to follow, perhaps because of disability, advanced age or a language barrier.
If you’re aware that there is a large presence of a particular ethnic or cultural group in the community in which you are working take the time to do a little research and find out more about this culture, and the specific beliefs they hold about childbirth.
“It’s worth learning even simple things.”
For example knowing how people prefer to be greeted and addressed, or whether certain gestures or behaviour normal in your own culture may be considered inappropriate in others. This can go a long way towards effective and positive communication.
If you are attending a patient in their home, in some cultures it is expected that anyone entering the house will take off their shoes and leave them at the door. So if you go to a house and notice shoes arranged in the porch area it would be good etiquette to offer to take your own shoes off too.
The concept of being ‘with woman’ as a midwife is about having the ability to adapt to working with women and families from every kind of background.
Although it is important not to generalise or stereotype about different cultures and awareness of cultural differences and noticing any trends in behaviours will help you to adapt the way that you communicate and offer care.
We live in a wonderfully varied and multicultural society, and all kinds of attitudes exist towards this, both positive and negative.
It is the basic right of every individual to be treated with dignity and respect.
As a midwife you will encounter diversity in your job on a daily basis and in all aspects of the job, and when universities and employers are screening candidates an understanding of what diversity is and a positive attitude towards this is an absolute must!