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Are You Culturally Competent?

Most companies and corporations require their employees to attend diversity training on an annual basis. The intention may be in good faith and provides education, but it likely doesn't move the needle in what people think about other cultures, marginalized populations, or how to develop a better understanding of their own culture and how it compares to others.

So, what does it mean to be culturally competent? Cultural competency is a four-fold definition because it's important to understand your own beliefs and values and how they are similar or different from others. Developing your cultural competence takes some introspection to understand your values and beliefs and how you view other cultures. The other requirement is to develop cross-cultural skills. The next step is to participate. Get into the community and talk with people that have a different culture than you and ask questions to learn and grow your understanding. Go to festivals, volunteer, and talk to people in your organization with a mindset of curiosity and not integration.

Part of the introspection is to understand your implicit and explicit bias. As humans, we are not born with bias, hatred, anger, or distrust of any culture different from ours. It is through life experience and the influence of others that impacts our views of the world. implicit bias is a subconscious thought of a specific population. For example, if you think of a nurse, you may picture a female. What about a pro football player?

Explicit bias is an intentional bias toward a group. These are developed from family or peer influence, or an adverse situation that turns into a generalization of an entire group of people. Media and social media can play a role in altering the views of others. This is an unfortunate situation and the impact on the victims of the bias runs deep and creates a barrier that is difficult to break down.

Going into the world with a mindset of curiosity and a genuine interest in learning about other cultures, worldviews, and struggles will enlighten your life and others, and develop meaningful and powerful connections and friendships.

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