Intercultural competence is of crucial importance in our interconnected world.
Says who? How do they know? And what is “intercultural competence”?
Intercultural competence is defined in a number of ways* but generally, it is the ability to communicate and behave in appropriate ways with those who are culturally different—and to co-create shared spaces, teams, and organizations that are inclusive, effective, innovative, and satisfying.
Cultural competency is vitally important to effectiveness in a variety of areas including healthcare, education, public services, law enforcement, libraries, customer service, and other business functions. In fact, being sensitive to cultural influences on others may even improve your relationships at home, and in the community.
Perhaps you are looking for concrete examples of the impact of cultural competency on business? Read a report from BertelsmannStiftung, “Synergy by Diversity: Real Life Examples of Cultural Diversity in Corporations” by Petra Köppel and Dominik Sandner, about companies that have benefitted from utilizing cultural diversity in the workplace.
Institutions worldwide are attempting to clearly articulate the ideas and ideals of cultural competency, in statements such as the UNESCO “Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity"; The US National Association of Social Workers’ “Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work"; the Medical Council of New Zealand’s “Statement on Cultural Competence"; the “Berlin Declaration for Diversity, Respect and Acceptance in Sport”; the “Diversity Standards: Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries”; the Spanish “Action Plan on Social Inclusion”; and the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine’s “Statement on Cultural Competence.”
And for those of you interested in teams, you may wish to read “Leveraging global virtual teams through intercultural curiosity, sensitivity, and respect,” by David Callen. He looks at the importance of intercultural competence on the effective functioning of these 21st century teams.
Becoming interculturally competent—able to effectively manage the diversity around you—doesn’t mean just reading a study, watching a few videos, or sprinkling some magic dust. It takes practice. Cultural Detective provides the tool and process to ensure that you, your family, team, organization, or community get the practice that is required!
* For a general overview of the idea of cultural competency, Martyn Barrett, Academic Director, Centre for Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism (CRONEM), reviews existing models of intercultural competence and references research studies that support conclusions about intercultural competence.