Cultural Linguistic Services at UW-Madison earns national honor

June 14, 2016 By Greg Bump
Photo: Thao Jzong

Jzong Thao, a Hmong-English translator, interpreter and trainer in Cultural Linguistic Services in the Office of Human Resources, translates a document on his computer. Photo: Jeff Miller

A national human resources association that rewards equitable and inclusive workplace practices has recognized UW–Madison’s Cultural Linguistic Services (CLS) program in the Office of Human Resources.

The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) 2016 Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award recognizes and celebrates institutional initiatives and programs that have made a significant impact with respect to inclusion and equity, particularly those that have brought about cultural change throughout the organization. The award includes a $6,000 contribution to UW–Madison’s endowment courtesy of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

CLS provides a range of services that reach prospective and current employees in a multilingual and multi-shift work environment, primarily for employees who do not speak English as their first language. Services provided by CLS include interpretation and translation in English, Spanish, Hmong, Tibetan and Mandarin Chinese; workplace learning and professional development for English language learning employees; multilingual training and information services; and collaboration and support for campus programs that engage diverse groups of students, employees and community members.

CLS provides a range of services that reach prospective and current employees in a multilingual and multi-shift work environment, primarily for employees who do not speak English as their first language.

CLS provides a range of services that reach prospective and current employees in a multilingual and multi-shift work environment, primarily for employees who do not speak English as their first language. Photo: Jeff Miller

“CLS is critical to our efforts to fully engage our diverse workforce and build cultural understanding across the campus,” Michael Lehman, interim vice chancellor for finance and administration, says. “The program richly deserves this national recognition for its contributions to an inclusive campus environment.”

“The commitment to an inclusive community is the summary of the work that CLS does by improving the overall conditions and ‘leveling the field’ for employees for whom English is not their first language,” says Don Schutt, senior director of the Office of Talent Management at UW–Madison. “CLS provides support for all voices to be heard on campus issues, from governance to listening sessions, important workplace issues, communication among peers, and more.”

CUPA-HR will present CLS as an example of excellence to other higher education institutions at its annual conference in September. Carmen Romero-González, director of CLS, says she and her staff are thrilled to receive the award that celebrates inclusive and equitable workplace practices.

An organization must truly value a diverse workforce and be willing to provide the programming to foster an inclusive campus, Romero-González says. She says CLS partners with other departments to offer language services and professional development opportunities that successfully create a more inclusive culture. The goal is not only to identify but also to actively practice inclusive communication while providing access to language services, training and learning for all employees.

“CLS is a dedicated team of professional interpreters, translators, trainers and instructors who make this possible,” Romero-González says. “We are deeply honored that UW–Madison and our department are receiving recognition for these efforts.”