Cultural Linguistic Services: Striving for Effective Communication in the Workplace

In 2016, UW-Madison’s Cultural Linguistic Services won the Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award. This national award recognized the initiative for its impact on the campus community for inclusive and equitable workplace practices.

Not many students or even first-shift faculty are aware of Cultural Linguistic Services, which is often referred to as CLS for short. The goal of CLS is to bring multicultural and multilingual support to the diverse workforce at UW-Madison.  The program falls under the university’s Human Resources Department and aims to make sure that all employees and international scholars on campus are able to access information in their native language.

In order to do so, CLS offers translation and interpretation in five different languages: English, Spanish, Hmong, Tibetan and Chinese, with Nepalese offered as needed. Carmen Romero-González, director of CLS, said those languages may seem random to someone who is unfamiliar with the cultural makeup of the campus’s workforce. However, those five core languages are representative of the five most in-demand languages of the workforce.

“The languages that we offer reflect the demand that we receive. That’s how we’ve been adding to the languages of our department.” Romero-González said. Romero-González also mentioned that UW-Madison is the number one employer of choice for the Tibetan community in the Madison area.

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