By: Chuck Gillespie, CEO

The National Wellness Institute has spent decades advocating for the competencies of wellness. As we finalize the peer review and analysis of our wellness competency research, it is only fitting to begin sharing the observations. These observations may be “simple” aspects to digest because we have gone deep with our study, but to accomplish them will demand good training, a support network, a lot of focus on leading the change, and an outstanding communication plan. It is not going to be easy.

This is the fourth article of a five-part series where I will provide a thought statement that seeks to help trigger practical, skilled, meaningful, and capable approaches you must consider, as you seek to deliver a high-level wellness strategy at work, at home, in your community, with your customers, or for yourself.

In 2015, the National Wellness Institute started the Multicultural Competency Committee because we had three forward-thinking members of the Board at the time who saw the need and led the change. The foresight of Linda Howard, JD, Dr. Aldrenna Williams, and Dr. Deborah Wilcox set in motion the development of the Multicultural Competency Wheel and the High-Level Wellness Through Multicultural Competency course that is offered today.

National Wellness Institute is intentional in how we handle diversity, inclusion, and equity because the goal needs to be about developing an environment where ALL people can thrive, not just having a policy or training program. The research conducted for the Wellness Competency Model confirmed this need to drive inclusive and responsive practices.

What does this mean from our research? Following are key points to consider as you seek to create an inclusive and responsive wellness culture:

  • Practice multicultural competence, recognizing the dynamics of oppression and privilege on an individual’s lived experiences
  • Practice self-awareness and self-regulation to minimize the effects of personal biases in working with diverse individuals and groups
  • Demonstrate compassion, integrity, and respect for diverse individuals and groups, including but not limited to diversity in sex, age, culture, race, ethnicity, disabilities, body-size, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and gender identity
  • Assist individuals in identifying barriers or resistance to change that are interrupting their ability to integrate wellness-promoting behaviors into their lives
  • Adapt wellness strategies to fit individual, geographical and cultural needs, acknowledging that there are no universally correct models or processes
  • Work to uncover individuals’ strengths, concerns, and values using a person-centered approach to inquiry that includes active listening to help set appropriate wellness goals and strategies

Do not fall into the falsehood that a policy that you can point to will change the dynamic of your culture. To truly affect change, you must be intentional with taking very specific steps to creating an atmosphere where everyone feels they can be themselves. This is multicultural competency. Otherwise, your DEI initiative is a policy that allows you to check the box that you are doing some, so you can continue to conduct business as usual – only now you have checked the box on having a policy. Congratulations, you are compliant, but are you ethically principled (Factor 3 of the Wellness Competency Model)?