The US society has experienced ethnic and cultural shifts in demographics, which have resulted in the current existence of different ethno-cultural groups that preserve their separate identities within the larger society. Therefore, major similarities and differences exist between different ethno-cultural groups living in the United States.
This paper considers such similar and distinctive characteristics between the African-American and the non-Hispanic white groups. Accordingly, these comparisons will form the basis upon which the need for food service providers to initiate culturally competent accommodations in the workplace will be assessed.
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In 2011, 43.8 million of civilians living in the United States, which amounted to 14% of the country’s total population, were African American, and thus, they formed the second largest minority after the Hispanic population (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
African American Profile par. 1). In 2007, about 56% of the African-American population resided in the south, compared to 34% of their white counterparts (African American Profile par. 2). As of 2008, New York, Michigan, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, California, Illinois, Georgia, and Maryland were the top ten states with population including 59% of African Americans.
In 2007, 80% of African Americans aged 25 years and above earned a high school diploma as compared to 89% of whites in the same age bracket. Among the African Americans, 16% of women compared to 14% of men obtained a Bachelor’s degree in contrast to 25% of men and 24% of women among the non-Hispanic whites (African American Profile para. 1-2).
As per the 2007 US Census Bureau report, the average median income of a typical African-American family amounted to $33,916 in contrast to $54,920 among the non-Hispanic white families, as of 2007 (as cited in Katz par. 9).
In the same year, the number of people living below poverty line was 24.5% and 8.2% for African-Americans and whites respectively (US Census Bureau as cited in Katz par. 10). Furthermore, the rate of unemployment stood at 8% for African-Americans and 4% for whites, which was consistent with the demographics of both men and women (Katz par. 11).
Still in 2007, 49% of African-Americans and 66% of whites had employer sponsored health insurance coverage, which meant that 23.8% of African-Americans as opposed to 9% of whites were covered by the public health insurance (African American Profile par. 2). Additionally, the number of persons who were uninsured in 2007 was 19.5% and 10.4% for African-Americans and whites respectively (African American Profile para. 3-4).
In terms of health conditions, the rate of death among African-Americans was relatively higher than among whites as of 2005. For instance, African-American men were more likely to be diagnosed with new cases of cancer (prostate or lung) compared to their white counterparts. Additionally, more African-Americans were twice as vulnerable to diabetes as their white counterparts.
Heart diseases, strokes, and HIV/AIDS showed similar numbers, with more African-Americans likely to die from these diseases than whites. In 2006, the rate was decreased in 30%having showed that less African-American adults (65 years and over) had received an influenza shot within a 12-month period in comparison to their white counterparts.
Despite African-American children showing comparable demographics in terms of immunization against influenza, MMR, and polio among other diseases, the rate of infant mortality was about 2.3 times higher among the African-Americans as compared to whites in 2005 (Infant Mortality and African Americans par. 3).
Accommodating Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
Taking note of the disparities in ethnicity, income, health, locations, and education between the two groups described in the foregoing discussions, one cannot fail to recognize the importance of cultural competence in providing various services, including food services to different ethno-cultural groups in the U.S. society.
To achieve cultural competence in a food service organization, it is imperative for food service directors to make various accommodations in the workplace. Accordingly, making culturally competent accommodations in the workplace is important of the following reasons:
- The number of aging Americans is projected to increase by the year 2030, and, according to the Healthy People 2010 report, there is a need to eliminate disparities in service delivery by encouraging outreach to the underserved populations, including those in economic need, minorities, and elderly people (85 years and over) (Reppas, Rosenzweig and National Policy and Resource Center on Nutrition and Aging, Florida International University par. 3). As a result, nutrition programs form the basis for promoting health, and therefore it is important for food service providers to promote the provision of culturally competent services through acquiring and training culturally sensitive staff (Reppas et al. par. 4).
- Most importantly, there is a need for food service staff and volunteers, especially those serving the elderly population, which comprise people from diverse cultures, to have relevant cultural competency skills, such as compassion, respect, and empathy to ensure that their services are appreciated and valued by the primary customers (Reppas et al. para. 4-6).
- Today’s business culture demands that an organization recruits and retains a diverse workforce by creating an environment that accommodates and values the employees’ knowledge, values, beliefs, culture, and skills. This can be achieved through integrating culturally competent values into the organization’s mission, business strategies, and vision. As a result, this move will encourage employees to share their ideas, skills, and innovations, which will contribute to the success and growth of the entire organization.
- A culturally diverse workplace encourages equity and increases staff skills in different departments, especially customer care where language skills and cultural competence are imperative because of the need for the staff to understand and communicate efficiently with the primary customers.
- In a culturally diverse environment, employees are given the opportunity to interact and learn from their colleagues. This experience exposes them to new ideas and skills for decision making, which will result in responsive service delivery to people from different cultures.
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- Reppas, Stacey, Lester Rosenzweig and National Policy and Resource Center on Nutrition and Aging, Florida International University. Providing Food Services to Meet the Needs of Culturally Diverse Participants. 5 Jul. 2004. Web. 7 Dec. 2019.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. African American Profile. 2011. Web. 7 Dec. 2019.
Infant Mortality and African Americans. 2011. Web. 7 Dec. 2019.