The Critical Competencies for a Practitioner in the Field of Diversity and Inclusion
My area of specialization, as well as my profession, is related to Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. Just like in any other profession and area of specialization, the field of Diversity and Inclusion has a set of competencies and their definitions for the practitioners to follow. In particular, Lahiri (n.d.) has named seven categories of competencies for the practitioners of Diversity and Inclusion that involve change management, diversity, inclusion, and global perspective, business acumen, strategic external relations, strategic alliances, integrity, visionary and strategic leadership, and HR disciplines. Each of these categories contains several specific requirements that a successful Diversity and Inclusion professional is to fulfill. For instance, the second group – Diversity, Inclusion, and Global Perspective – is comprised of such competencies as, complex group dynamics, negotiation and facilitation, cultural competence, continuous learning, judgment, and subject matter expertise (Lahiri, n.d.).
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As pointed out by Dalton, D’Netto, and Bhanugopan (2015), the meaning of the competencies as a concept began to gain its popularity rapidly in the late 1970s and initiated in the field of Human Resources. The very first understanding of this concept referred to the competencies as the people’s characteristics – professional, as well as personal (Dalton et al., 2015). Over time, the meaning of the competencies in the workplace became broader and started to include personal aptitudes, values, and inclinations in addition to the professional knowledge and self-management abilities.
The competencies of an individual must be matched to his or her career field and specific professional duties and tasks. As a result, organizations need to identify and present their requirements as to the competencies of the employees. Moreover, different career fields develop the standardized sets of core competencies to establish the quality standards for the specialties included. The role of the competencies is to provide a sufficient framework for the evaluation of the employees’ performance, their suitability for the jobs, roles, ranks, potential, and schemes of rewards and perks (Dalton et al., 2015).
My professional sphere involves work with people and managing interpersonal situations in the workplace, from the local and global perspectives. The duties and tasks of a Diversity and Inclusion practitioner are rather diverse and can cover a wide range of issues such as leadership, social and legal matters, the planning and implementation of change, and the management of people, to name a few. Differently put, a Diversity and Inclusion professional needs to possess and be able to demonstrate a wide range of very diverse abilities and skills to be deemed suitable for the career.
I have obtained valuable training that has improved my existing competencies and helped me develop the ones that I used to consider my weaknesses. For instance, all the courses in management and corporate training that it took helped me understand the academic concepts of leadership, cultural competence, group dynamics, motivation, change, and people management. I believe that change is one of the essential goals in the contemporary field of Diversity and Inclusion because there are still obstacles that prevent new policies and opportunities from being put into practice.
Personal Mastery and Lifelong Learning
When it comes to lifelong learning, I believe that because the contemporary world is known for its rapid change of trends and fast development, it is a necessity that the professionals keep upgrading their knowledge and skills throughout their lives. In my opinion, this is an essential component for one to remain at the top of their professional field. Laal (2011) pointed out that the rapid development of technologies in modern society drives the change in the knowledge economy. In that way, lifelong learning is not a choice but a requirement of any adult who is willing to keep up with the pace of transformation of the social trends and lifestyles. As the technologies enter career fields, the professionals are obliged to master them, learn about the most recent issues, solutions, and best practices. The time when the older generation served as the ultimate source of knowledge for the younger one has passed. Today, the learners create their knowledge dictated by the modern phenomena; and very often, the old-fashioned ways of thinking are in the way of the new change.
In his book “The Fifth Discipline”, Senge (2006) also noted that “organizations learn only through individuals who learn” (p. 139). In that way, I intend to remain a constantly learning individual among the people who drive their organizations forward. I realize that my work is quite an important one and it can make a significant impact on the lives of many people. Currently, I am engaged with my courses attempting to improve my theoretical knowledge and upgrade my qualifications in a variety of fields. At the same time, I am focused on the practical self-actualization through working on projects orientated at the planning and implementation of change. My strategy for the future includes participation in more educational activities and the attendance of even more courses to enrich my knowledge of the recent theories and frameworks along with the continuation of my professional work.
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My area of specialization contains multiple learning opportunities. Because it is a relatively new sphere of knowledge that focuses on work with people, it evolves very quickly and thus keeps the practitioners informed about the newest problems and the concerns that are soon to come. Following the completion of my doctoral program, I plan to engage in the active exchange of information and experience with the Diversity and Inclusion professionals from all around the country and from abroad. Luckily for the learning professionals such as myself, the field of Diversity and Inclusion is the developing one. As a result, its theories and practices grow and advance year after year encouraging the dedicated practitioners to search for ways to acquire more information and more knowledge. My goal is to collect a set of best practices that could help create a new framework allowing a fast improvement in the domestic inclusion and diversity in the workplace. This is my goal because I am convinced that modern society needs change and is ready for it. Some obstacles need to be defeated to accomplish a breakthrough in the area.
Recommendations to a Doctoral Student Pursuing a Degree from the University of the Rockies
For an individual whose education is just one of many spheres of life, it can be a challenge to maintain balance and give enough attention not only to the learning process but also to family, career, personal life, and find time for rest and recreation. The life of a busy person can sometimes become overloaded with tasks, duties, and errands. To remain active and productive throughout the doctoral program, I made the focused time management one of my major priorities.
The internet can provide an unlimited variety of tips and frameworks concerning the solutions of the time management challenges. One of them is the list offered by Stanford University (n.d.); it contains several valuable tips that I have been relying on during my learning process; in particular, the pieces of guidance designed to minimize procrastination turned out extremely useful. My advice to the new doctoral learners is to defeat the inclination to procrastinate that can be very strong in the case of the learner has a busy life and a lot of duties to fulfill apart from studying.
Also, the University of Kentucky (n.d.) provides a valuable article on time management that also includes the tips for self-assessment and critical thinking as some of the most important factors contributing to one’s success in self-organization. One of the activities that I found particularly helpful was the practice of self-awareness allowing me to determine how exactly I am doing with my tasks to identify the state of my progress or lack thereof. Moreover, this activity is the most productive when it is practiced in combination with planning and the establishment of measurable goals. In that way, it becomes much easier to see where exactly I am in my self-development plan and compare my existing performance to the desired result.
Besides, my second piece of advice to doctoral students is to plan recreational activities and rest well. This task was one of the most difficult ones in terms of balancing work and family time. The two spheres kept overlapping and canceling out one another. The passion for learning, improvement, and making a change in the career field must not consume one’s personal life and time for relaxation. After all, a healthy person makes a much more productive learner than an unhealthy and tired one.
As for research and writing, critical thinking is the key to the best ideas. The elimination of harmful bias should become the priority because it helps a practitioner achieve the highest levels of reliability and validity in their work. Additionally, I would advise doubling- and triple-check every assignment after it is finished and while the work is still in progress. Sometimes small errors can jeopardize the entire project. Finally, I found it very helpful to practice in the workplace the theoretical frameworks and strategies learned from research.
Dalton, L., D’Netto, B., & Bhanugopan, R. (2015). Using the diversity management competencies model to manage diversity effectively. World Journal of Management, 6(1), 75-89.
Laal, M. (2011). Lifelong learning: What does it mean? Social and Behavioral Sciences 28, 470-474.
Lahiri, I. (n.d.). Creating a Competency Model for Diversity and Inclusion Practitioners. Web.
Senge, P. M. (2006). The fifth discipline. New York, NY: Doubleday. Stanford University. (n.d.). Time management. Web.
The University of Kentucky. (n.d.). The successful person’s guide to time management. Web.