Assignment: cultural sensitivity in the workplace and community


Advanced human services professional practitioners are bound by laws (e.g., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), by the NOHS code of ethics, and by organizational policies and procedures that promote ethical behavior and cultural sensitivity. Practitioners may encounter challenges when the laws, code of ethics, and organizational policies and procedures conflict. For example, suppose a service user asks the practitioner to pray with them at an intake assessment because they are experiencing stress. The practitioner reluctantly agrees to pray to avoid exacerbating the service user’s stress, even though the organization’s policy prohibits discussing religion. Leaders created the policy to prevent practitioners from trying to convert service users to their religion. The practitioner’s supervisor ultimately decides to terminate the practitioner for violating the policy. Did the supervisor make the right decision? How might these and other violations be better addressed?

For this Discussion, you will explore a human services organization’s policies and procedures to determine how ethics training is addressed in relation to maintaining appropriate boundaries and cultural sensitivity. You will also use the NOHS code of ethics to evaluate the organization’s response to violations of policies and procedures.

To Prepare

  • Identify a local human services organization with which you are familiar. This could be an organization in which you currently work or have previously worked, an organization in which a friend or family member works, or an organization that is well-known in your community.
  • Go to the organization’s website and find the policies and procedures. Read the policies and procedures, paying particular attention to how the organization addresses ethics training in relation to maintaining appropriate boundaries and cultural sensitivity. In addition, consider the following questions:  
    • Are there professionals who come from the same cultural groups served?
    • Are professionals given training on self-reflection in order to be aware of potential bias or imposing their own values?
    • Are alternative healing practices needed and implemented?
    • How do the cultures in this community view mental health?
    • Are assessments biased in terms of worldview or linguistic accessibility?
    • Are interpreters available for all language groups?
    • Are there cultural differences in symptoms or disorders?
    • Are microaggressions evident?
    • Are services restricted based on religious principles?
    • Are there rules that may apply unequally between women and men?
  • Identify at least one possible violation of the organization’s policies and procedures with respect to cultural sensitivity that occurred and consider how the organization responded.
  • Review the Ethical Standards for Human Services Professionals. Identify specific standards that apply to the violation and consider how you would use the standards to address the situation differently. 
  • Describe the human services organization you chose.
  • Explain how this organization addresses the issues of ethics training in relation to maintaining appropriate boundaries and cultural sensitivity. Give an example of how the organization responded to a possible violation of their policies and procedures.
  • Explain how you would have addressed the situation differently and why. Support your response using specific standards from the NOHS code of ethics.
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