Diversity Of Language Is Beneficial

It has been shown in many studies that diversity in language is quite beneficial.  Whether people are bilingual or they are simply interacting with people who speak different languages, there are multiple positive benefits.

However, this does not come without challenges.  An excerpt from an article discusses how employers could find challenges when they attempt to diversify their workforce:

What difference will a more ethnically diverse work force make to you as an employer? In some cases, it could mean an increase in health insurance costs.

“There is growing research evidence that the health of minorities is frequently less than optimal, which could mean decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and higher health care costs for your company,” says Miriam Jacobson, director of the Prevention Leadership Forum at the Washington Business Group on Health.

“In order to be competitive, we need to recruit people from all segments of the population, and at the same time, be aware of the special challenges posed by various groups,” she maintains.

In addition to strengthening the work force by bringing new skills, customs, and perspectives, each minority group brings with it a unique set of health characteristics, Jacobson continues. “This diversity among populations is reflected in different languages, in cultural practices and beliefs regarding health and illness, in differences in their birth rates, in differences in how they die, and in differences in their needs for types of health services and the duration of health care,” Jacobson says.

Overall, minorities die more frequently than whites from cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cirrhosis, diabetes, murder, and accidents; they also have higher infant mortality rates, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Life expectancy for whites is about six years longer than for blacks.

Reasons for differences

Why do these differences occur? Differences in treatment outcomes and death rates can be attributed to, among other factors, educational levels, access to health care, and differences in physiological processes.

But all minority groups have one factor in common: economic disadvantage, notes WBGH’s Jacobson. “They are poor. Native Americans, blacks, Hispanics, and certain Asian/Pacific Islanders are three times more likely to be poor than non-minorities. And people at the lowest socioeconomic levels have higher death and illness rates,” she says.

Poverty is one explanation; different health practices is another. In an article in the Jan. 13, 1989 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, pollster Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health and his colleagues interviewed 10,180 people, 12.2 percent of whom were black. One of the findings was that blacks go to doctors less often than whites.

“Even after taking into account persons’ income, health status, age, sex, and whether they had one or more chronic or serious illnesses, blacks have a statistically significantly lower mean number of annual ambulatory visits and are less likely to have seen a physician in a year,” Blendon writes. While the average number of black visits to a doctor each year is 4.4, whites visit the doctor an average of 8.4 times annually, a figure that does not include clinic or emergency room visits.”  “

~Frieden, Joyce. “Valuing diversity: ways to answer minority needs.” Business & Health Jan. 1990: 32+. Academic OneFile.

 

If you as an employer are looking to increase the diversity in culture and language in your workforce, then stay up to date on various language learning pointers, as well as cultural talking points.

Overall it cannot hurt to add some differences in your workforce, especially depending on your industry.

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