Globalization and advancements in technology have resulted in a more diverse and connected workforce than ever before. By 2050, groups previously classified as “minorities” will account for more than half of the population. Additionally, technological capabilities now facilitate remote work, allowing colleagues to work from anywhere in the world.
If not addressed constructively, the growing diversity of cultures and perspectives in the workplace can create barriers to collaboration and teamwork. The more employees who can communicate effectively and empathise with one another, the more productive your organisation can be. This is referred to as cultural competency, and in this post, we’ll discuss some strategies for driving cultural competence training in your organisation.
Cultural competency is multidimensional. When assessing and working to improve the state of your workplace, keep the following in mind:
- Sensitivity: This component refers to an individual’s capacity for comprehending and appreciating cultural differences—in other words, how “sensitive” they are to them.
- Awareness: Awareness is associated with an individual’s capacity to comprehend how culture influences one’s thinking, behaviour, and interactions.
- Competencies: Once an individual is able to appreciate differences and comprehend how cultural differences affect how we interact with the world. Their abilities are then reflected in their ability to communicate and interact effectively across cultures.
The Workplace: Defining Cultural Competency
Every employer owes it to themselves, their employees, and the United States government to maintain a culturally competent workplace.
Cultural competence is, in essence, the combination of cultural knowledge, awareness, and social skills necessary to function effectively, communicate effectively, and get along with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. This is accomplished through role modeling and educational instruction emphasizing positive behaviors, attitudes, and policies.
Cultural competence is critical for maintaining a safe, peaceful, and legally compliant work environment in diverse workplaces. Cultural competence is essential to specific industries, such as education and health care, because it is required for employee interaction and serving exceptionally culturally diverse and vulnerable populations of students and medical patients.
Culturally competent organizations develop and implement a defined set of values and a deliberate set of behaviors and attitudes that enable them to work cross-culturally effectively. Training for diversity in the workplace is thus required.
Why Is Cultural Competence Required in Every Organization?
Cultural competence is critical to the smooth operation of a business with employees from various cultural backgrounds. The primary benefit of maintaining a high level of cultural competence at work is that it enables effective interaction and cooperation with others, regardless of how “dissimilar” they may be. This type of teamwork is accomplished by considering the perspectives of others and the broader cultural context of a given scenario with mindfulness and sensitivity. When undertaken in good faith, this effort effectively communicates with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds without overreacting or causing offense or misunderstandings. This calls for a diversity training program.
Cultural Competence’s Benefits in the Workplace
Several benefits of cultural competence in the workplace include the following:
- Increased receptiveness. Culturally competent employees are typically more receptive to other perspectives, facilitating workplace collaboration.
- Brainstorming that is culturally synergistic. By bringing together thinkers from diverse cultural backgrounds, we can improve problem-solving and increase creativity by converging diverse perspectives, ideas, and strategies.
- Increased Alertness. Increased cultural awareness at work also benefits overall communication between coworkers, as cultural competence education fosters empathy and active listening skills.
- A Flexible and Cohesive Workforce Employees who are culturally competent are more productive and cooperative. They are generally more adaptable to workplace changes and adjustments due to open-mindedness, which is a desirable quality in a worker. Additionally, it may aid in the elimination of workplace microaggressions.
Cultural competence at the highest level is a process that develops/evolves over time and in conjunction with a specific work context, rather than an instantaneous, one-size-fits-all application. Indeed, culturally competent leadership tests and workforce are those who have considered the benefits of cultural competence and the critical nature of cultural awareness — and have made a sincere commitment to developing one’s artistic sensibilities through learning, listening, and exercising cultural objectivity and empathy.
The following are the critical characteristics of a culturally competent individual:
- Self- and Other-Awareness- A culturally competent individual is aware of their cultural worldview and the fact that other cultural worldviews exist and feel equally valid, accurate, and significant to their adherents.
- This sensibility is accompanied by the capacity for introspection and, if necessary, intervention. Actual cultural competence entails the ability to step outside one’s artistic self and acknowledge one’s own pre-existing biases and capacity for prejudice. This ability to “zoom-out” from one’s limited perspective to see the “big picture” enables the culturally competent individual to be less defensive and more objective/impartial when assessing and potentially diffusing a culturally “tense” situation at work before it escalates.
- An Open Attitude Towards Growth and Acceptance of Cultural Diversity- Cultural competence necessitates a willingness to learn and grow, bolstered by a genuine interest in others.
All of this makes a culturally intelligent center.