Creating an engaging work environment: A humanities perspective

by | July 12, 2021 | Past Events | 2 comments

“How does exploring organizations moving forward beyond DEI to examine cultural nuances, communication and agreements. How might that look like?”

Fred Brown, President and CEO of The Forbes Funds

The Forbes Funds was joined today by special guest Dr. Abdelsalam Soudi, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Soudi is an advocate for creating culturally and linguistically inclusive workplaces. Access the recording of this community call here.

Building engaging workspaces

In his engaging talk, Dr. Abdelsalam Soudi discussed the power and value of the humanities in creating and sustaining inclusive workspaces. He began by outlining what he called the “value of practical humanities” to counter the stereotypes of humanities as something impractical or of value only in academia.

Value of Humanities Slide

Dr. Soudi gave several examples of how the value of humanities would have assisted in creating stronger products or more authentic relationships. For example, in his own research, he studies the effect of computers in the check-up room. He noted the effect of computers on patients, which would distract them. He suggested that if manufacturers incorporated humanities cultural values into their product, it would not have been the case.

To be more precise, he wanted to emphasize the cultural determinants in various healthcare settings. Among them include discrimination, language and cultural barriers, and communication awareness. Dr. Soudi emphasized how these often unnoticed socio-cultural determinants can have a substantial health impact on people’s lives, as shown in the slide below.

Socio-cultural health impact Slide

Dr. Soudi then shifted gears. With Americans slowly returning to the office, Dr. Soudi said that now is a great time to re-imagine the office as an inclusive space. How to do it? Dr. Soudi said that we need to understand that diversity means different things to different people with different values and histories.

Core principles and the driving premise of cultural engagement Slide

However, he did recognize that there is a number of challenges to embracing humanities in the workplace. For example, he listed diversity fatigue, toxic work cultures, and social isolation. Hence bringing people physically together to adopt a new humanities-led value framework would be a challenge.

Throughout the Q&A, Dr. Soudi emphasized relationships’ power and set aside some social for workers as critical for maintaining a healthy work environment. This, in turn, as he mentioned above, would create the conditions for humanities at work to thrive.

2021 GPNP Summit

2021 GPNP Summit Call for Speakers and Presenters

Colleen Young advertised the upcoming 2021 GPNP Summit. They are currently looking for interested speakers with innovative content. The deadline to submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) is 30 July. The 2021 summit takes place on the 13, 14, and 15 of October:

Public Policy Updates with Colleen Young

PA Budget

Colleen noted only $1 billion of $7.3 billion of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was spent in the PA 21-22 budget. Colleen Young encourages all reviewers to write to their legislators urging them to release more funds, especially for the nonprofit sector.

PPP Loans

Colleen pointed out that PPP helped the nonprofit sector in Pennsylvania. Moreover, she noted that:

  • Pennsylvania businesses and nonprofits recieved $10 billion in PPP loans
  • Deferred payments for 10 months but with the 1st round of receipients due
  • Nonprofits should apply for forgiveness with some banks sending out invitations
  • Once application is submitted, payments are deferred until a decision is made

Minimum Wage

Pennsylvania Democrats have proposed raising the Pennsylvania minimum wage, but the bill is currently stuck in a committee. It would increase the amount from $7.25 an hour to $12 an hour.

Food Security

Food Security Slide

CDC Guidance for Schools

The CDC has released its new guidelines regarding social distancing on Friday. The focus is on safely re-opening all schools. The recommendations are:

  • Three feet social distancing
  • Combined indoor masking, testing, and enhanced ventilation and handwashing

COVID-19 and Vaccination Rates

COVID-19 infections remain stubbornly high in areas of low vaccination rates. However, the overall vaccination rate in Pennsylvania is high. The vaccination rates with at least one dose broken down by race:

  • Total: 56.2%
  • W:48%
  • AA: 34.6%
  • AAPI: 23.7%
  • NA: 13%

The numbers suggest continuing racial disparity with COVID-19 vaccines.

Black Equity Coalition (BEC)

Black Equity Coalition Slide

Alissa Monette of the BEC wanted to bring viewers’ attention to a health survey released by Allegheny County Health Department to determine health priorities for the next 3-5 years. She also noted that the Pennsylvania Department of Health had released their latest numbers with over 11.3 million vaccinations to date.

Academy for Cause and Community Engagement Leadership (ACCEL)

Academy for Cause and Community Engagement Leadership (ACCEL) Slide

Dr. Hannah Karolak announced that the Academy for Cause and Community Engagement Leadership (ACCEL) applications are open with a 12 July deadline for ACCEL Fundamentals and ACCEL Advanced. Nonprofits interested in boosting their marketing & communication skills and creating better fundraising plans should take these courses. You may sign up for Fundamentals via this form, or sign up for Advanced via this form.

Graduates earn a professional digital badge from The Forbes Funds, gain access to future ACCEL special events, and join a network of local ACCEL alumni.

Tropman Reports: Call for Papers

Dr. Hannah also mentioned the upcoming deadline for the Call for Papers to the Tropman Reports will be 1 August.

Innovation Lab and Equity Hackathon

Innovation Lab and Equity Hackathon to build cross-sectoral teams

The Innovation Lab is looking for potential participants to brainstorm innovative solutions to existing challenges and advance equity in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region, emphasizing cross-sectoral teams. Get more information on how to sign up for the Innovation Lab here. Please note the deadline to apply is 15 July.

Future Events

Be sure to register for future Community Solutions Calls here. See you at the next Community Solutions Call or a number of our upcoming events here!

  1. Ali Jaffar

    Excellent community solution call, I learned a LOT! I’m wondering: will deadlines will be extended for ACCEL, Dr. Hannah?

    • Hannah Karolak

      Yes, we extended ACCEL until the end of the week, Friday, July 16th! I hope you and those in your network have gotten the chance to register. If not, feel free to email me here if you had difficulties accessing the Google Form to register.

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