Cultural inclusion and social wellness

Reading Time: 2 minutes Cultural inclusivity can impact the emotional and financial wellness of individuals and communities. With the passing of International Mother Language Day, international students share their thoughts on why they think cultural inclusion is important.

A picture of the International Mother Language Day poster competition in the Hall of Flags.Reading Time: 2 minutes

Cultural inclusion is a broad concept that can hardly be defined. However, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines diversity, a synonym for cultural inclusion, as “any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. It means respect for and appreciation of differences.” For cultural inclusion, an appreciation of differences lies at its foundation.

In the article “Culturally inclusive environment” by the University of the Sunshine Coast, it is stated that “[a] culturally inclusive environment requires mutual respect, effective relationships, clear communication, explicit understandings about expectations and critical self-reflection.” In other words, cultural inclusion supports the social needs of people from diverse cultures and values their unique contributions to society. It also involves an ongoing awareness of other cultures as well as accepting the diversity that each culture represents. 

When asked about why she thought cultural inclusivity was important, UVU international student Teresa Kotwick, studying forensic science, said, “I consider cultural inclusion … [to be] a huge factor in relieving some homesickness within international students.” Kotwick continued, “It also brings benefits to everyone in general, since having an understanding of … diverse cultures can bring enrichment to society and a better understanding and appreciation [for] those who are different than us.” 

Research suggests that Kotwick’s thoughts are accurate. According to Bailey Reiners of Built In, “Diverse companies enjoy 2.5 times higher cash flow per employee.” Additionally, “Diverse management has been shown to increase revenue by 19 percent.” Adding to this idea, Julia Oquist, a UVU student studying graphic design, explained, “Cultural inclusiveness promotes personal growth and a healthy society by having the opportunity to meet people with different perspectives.”

Cultural inclusivity is also important because it can affect the emotional and financial wellness of cultural minorities. According to Thushyan Kayilas of TELUS Health, “Employee mental health is closely linked to experiences of inclusion and diversity in the workplace.” Furthermore, Kayilas explained,“According to Catalyst’s 2019 report, 60% of Asian, Black, Latinx, and multiracial professionals report feeling like they are forced to be on guard to protect against racial and gender bias while at work.” Unfortunately, such behaviors have led to an issue known as Emotional Tax, which has been linked to higher stress and employee overturn rates among cultural minorities.   

Regarding his thoughts on social inclusivity, Carlos Ramirez, an international UVU student studying aviation, said, “I think cultural inclusion makes us more aware in the way [we] perceive and think about things and social issues because there is not an ‘only way’ out there, nor [is there] only [one] right way!” He continued, “And in health, inclusion can help us be more mindful of other people when we are discussing certain issues.” 

As a result of cultural inclusivity, many favorable changes have been made in society. By striving to better understand those who are different from us and by valuing their opinions and voices, there can be a place in society for everybody.