Cultural safety is the appreciation and protection of employee individuality, enabling employees to fulfill their roles and express themselves freely.

Cultural safety encompasses both physical and psychological safety. Physical safety means that the material work environment must be free of harmful toxins and hazardous conditions and conducive to productivity. Psychological safety implies that the company encourages employees to take risks, voice their opinions, ask questions, and make mistakes through valuing honesty, courage, and humility.

Why should HR leaders care about cultural safety?

An organization that prioritizes cultural safety ideally empowers employees of all backgrounds, beliefs, and religions to function at their optimal performance level, flourish, and directly elevate business performance. Cultural safety can contribute to:

  • Morale 
  • Engagement 
  • Retention
  • Productivity

What can HR leaders do to encourage cultural safety?

HR leaders can facilitate a culturally safe work environment through these tactics:

  • Set an example. HR leaders can influence staff, directly and indirectly, through their conduct towards others. HR can determine the level and nature of cultural safety through their interactions with personnel, manner of communication, and dedication to employee wellbeing. 
  • Disseminate company code of conduct through various venues. HR leaders can include the company code of conduct in several frameworks such as the hiring process, company newsletters, and onboarding information. Integrating company policies into the various stages of the employee lifecycle can promote employee understanding of culturally safe practices. 
  • Raise manager awareness. Managers must know their roles in supporting cultural safety. They should establish a positive relationship with employees, aiming to be accessible and approachable. Managers should actively listen to employees during a meeting and immediately address issues that employees bring to light. Following through with the company procedure can prevent threatening behavior from infringing on the sense of safety at work. 
  • Emphasize diversity and inclusion. Developing a culture that allows each employee to contribute their unique perspectives and ideas can further promote cultural safety. An organization that treats each staff member equally and fairly enables all employees to deliver optimal work, accomplish goals, and thrive. 
  • Practice open communication.  HR professionals can foster an honest dialogue among the work community through an open-door policy, routine, constructive feedback, and transparent policies. Constant communication and collaboration with employees can encourage them to share their honest concerns when they arise. 

How does cultural safety improve the company culture?

When the workforce knows the company accepts and values their contributions, they feel encouraged to show their authentic selves. Using cultural safety to support equal opportunity for every employee and mutual respect can promote innovation and business growth while enriching the company culture through vibrant diversity.