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Workshop addresses growth of diversity in Indiana’s workforce

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indianapolis translation and interpretation company, LUNA language services, is helping to address workplace national origin discrimination in partnership with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Indianapolis.

Companies are talking more openly about diversity and inclusion in the office, but experts say there needs to be not just talking but also action behind it. So LUNA and EEOC workshop offered up a few tips that can be applied to any work environment.

Indiana’s growing diversity is becoming something to brag about. Roughly 100 languages are spoken here, so it’s inevitable that our workforce is beginning to look at lot more diverse, too.

“We wanted people to feel like they could bring their whole selves to work. I know that’s kind of a cliché term that’s been thrown around a lot. But I think it’s really valuable and important,” said Stevie Cromer, LUNA cultural enrichment manager.

LUNA language services is Indiana’s largest translation and interpretation service provider. Its staff represents 16 nationalities, and in partnership with the EEOC, the business is providing information to build on culturally inclusive and respectful work environments.

“Knowing how to pronounce someone’s name can have such a huge significance in the way they are viewed,” said Cromer. “And the way they are feel. So if you were unsure how to pronounce it, all you have to do is ask.”

Discussion touched on how national origin discrimination manifests at work, understanding when culturally insensitive behavior violates the law and best practices for creating inclusive culture.

“They have to ask does, ‘This accent — does it materially interfere with the ability to perform the job duties? How important is oral communication for this particular position?’” said Brian Shoemaker with the Indianapolis District of the EEOC.

Language and accents were also key topics, providing the do’s and don’ts when it comes to restrictive wardrobe and language policies.

“Would you make that same decision if someone had a thick, American region accent? Would you be making the same decision?” Shoemaker said.

The discussion also addressed immigrant employee rights for workers who aren’t citizens. While that doesn’t fall under the EECO, it does fall under the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.