We are all hearing a lot about cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, being culturally inclusive, and even more. These concepts are not new. We have been in trainings, professional coaching, team-building exercises, and have received information about such topics for years. However, in light of our current times and the civil unrest in the United States, these topics have risen to a new level and have received the urgency they truly have deserved for hundreds of years. The focus of this blog is to look at the concept of cultural inclusiveness from a different perspective in order to understand and apply it better for positive change.  

What is cultural competency?

What does cultural competency mean? How can one be culturally competent? The concept and these questions have many layers and facets. Being culturally competent is not a destination but a lifelong journey. Therefore, let’s start with 3 key concepts as a part of steps along the journey of cultural competency for better professional development.

Step 1: Understanding self-culture

We all have a culture. The base level definition:

Culture, according to Edward B. Tyler is:  “That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habit acquired by members of any given society.

Every human being has a culture. What is your culture? Your traditions? Your morals? Your beliefs?

In order to be on the journey of cultural competency, we need to understand, accept, appreciate, and be able to define our own culture. If we cannot come to this base level understanding of self, we will never be able to understand or appreciate other cultures. We will never even be able to start on the journey of cultural competency.

Step 2: Learn about other cultures

Once we understand and appreciate our own culture, we then can truly begin to learn about other cultures.

What does this mean? First, to learn means “to create a positive change in behavior through garnering information and knowledge to apply wisdom.” Secondly, wisdom means we “use common sense and appropriate behaviors to display and enact true learning.”

In understanding this meaning, we then ask “how do we best learn about other cultures?” The best way to learn other cultures is to totally immerse oneself through cultural immersion experiences.

  1. Go live within another culture
  2. Do something outside of your own culture
    • Try different ethnic foods
    • Go to varying ethnic activities
    • Travel to new places outside of your own culture
    • Ask people from different cultures
    • Use the wealth of information from the internet – make sure it is credible, but use the vast wealth of information and knowledge available online
    • Read about other cultures
    • Watch documentaries

In learning about other cultures through the lens of your own culture, you begin to take more steps along the path and journey of cultural competency.

Step 3: Appreciate other cultures

The third key concept on the cultural competency journey is to appreciate other cultures.

How is this done? Look at other cultures through the lens of positivity and love for all people.

  1. We need other people
  2. None of us were ever created to be alone
  3. So much more can be accomplished through a team, a group, or as the African Proverb states – “It takes a village to raise a child.”
  4. We all have different strengths (CliftonStrengths) and need everyone in order to accomplish the most – as Ken Blanchard stated – “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

The collective fabric of our world and its immense differences in cultures is something to be appreciated and desired in order to have the whole picture and to continue on the journey of cultural competency.

If we can all agree to start with these initial three steps on the journey of cultural competency, we will be doing something very special. We will be gathering information, acquiring knowledge, and gaining wisdom as we collectively move forward as people appreciating all of our differences while uniting for the good of all.

Continue the Journey with Professional Coaching!

Does your organization need a guide along the journey of Cultural Competency? Learn more about how we collaborate with partners to bring cultural competency to you and your team or  contact us today to learn more.