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January 23, 2017
Ask ACE

How can we engage with new Mainers?

The Association for Consulting Expertise (ACE) is a non-profit association of independent consultants who value "Success through Collaboration." The public is welcome to attend its regular meetings to share best practices and engage with industry experts. For more information go to www.consultexpertise.com.

Q: I understand that Maine is getting more culturally diverse. How can we engage with these new Mainers?

ACE advises: You're absolutely right. According to the American Community Survey, all of Portland's population growth since 2000 has been due to an increase in multicultural people. If we had left it up to Mainers who look like me, we'd be down by 3,000 people!

The future will definitely be more of the same, so you absolutely need to engage with this increasing cultural diversity.

First: explore, learn and understand the realities of cultural competency:

  • 1. What "culture" is and the ripple effects it has.
  • 2. Your own cultural lens.
  • 3. Culture-specific information about the populations you hope to engage.
  • 4. How you can learn and practice cross-cultural communication and bridging skills.

Second: get an independent analysis of your hiring processes, the interview or screening questions, to avoid inadvertently rewarding a specific culture.

Are you using idioms that only Americans would understand? Does your computerized application allow for only American schools, phone numbers, or references? Or only ".com" email addresses? Or use of password retrieval questions that don't have enough options for international applicants? Might qualified multicultural candidates be slipping through the cracks because of such oversights?

If you have people from the various populations working for you (and thriving, which means you have a culturally competent workplace), there's a good chance more people from that community will come through the door — as customers, clients, or applicants.

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