Embracing diversity in the workplace

Andrea Walker-Andrews, Manager, Coloma Court

This project started due to observations of how the unique differences between people are often seen as a negative rather than a positive thing and can at times become a problem for teams and also between residents and staff. The project started in early 2017 and the focus for the first two years was on the different backgrounds staff came from.

The objective of the project was to encourage people, be that staff, residents or visitors, to see our staff as unique individuals from interesting, different backgrounds or cultures rather than, black, white, African, Polish or however they usually choose to describe them. By understanding where people come from, we hoped that this would bring about a change in attitude towards particular cultures and open dialogue with and between staff, breaking down barriers and misconceptions that may exist. If we can change the attitude of just one person towards another, it will be worth it.

The project

There are 27 countries represented at Coloma Court. Every month, one country is picked randomly and the following information is obtained and displayed on the diversity board with the names of the staff representing that country.


  • National dish (with photo and recipe)
  • National dress (photo, if any)
  • Interesting facts about the country
  • Interview with one representative about their experience coming to the UK (if applicable)

On the left is Sierra Leone, where Melvin comes from.



The project, once started, sparked interest in many of our visitors and staff who looked forward to reading about the different countries represented each month. The information presented, facilitated conversations between staff, residents and relatives talking about the cultures or interesting facts about the country etc. and this helped to build relationships, breaking down barriers between visitors, residents and staff. Allowing staff to work with our residents without experiencing some of the judgements and discrimination that they can face in this type of work environment with our generation of residents was a definite benefit of the project. Knowledge is power and as the residents and visitors got to know our staff better, then trust was easier to achieve and which has made for a much better environment for everyone.

Among staff teams some of the same prejudices and judgements existed and the project has helped to break down some of those barriers and encouraged them to develop and foster better working relationships so that the focus can always be the residents and the care and not staff issues.

If for nothing else, the project was fun to do, for the staff involved and gives a clear message to everyone that diversity is to be embraced and not feared and that no matter where we come from, or how different our backgrounds are, that individuality and uniqueness are important as we can all bring different perspectives to the table and achieve better outcomes, be that for residents, teams, or the wider community.

As a company, it is important that we show our commitment to embracing diversity in our work environments.

The future

The next stage of the project is to provide foods from the different countries one day each month so that staff and residents can sample them. Yummy!

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