How can cultural competence improve you?

4 ways to boost cultural competence


In a world of diversity, where difference is everywhere, cultural competence is essential for any manager or leader planning on building strong relationships.

Diversity is a highly important aspect of today’s workplace. Not only is it about improving equality, but heterogeneous groups also deliver better solutions and critical analysis.

1. Recognition

It’s important to be aware of other people’s cultural heritage. Rather than employing a colourblind approach, which pretends that certain barriers don’t exist, celebrate your employees’ differences. Remember, an employee’s worth stems not solely from their age, ethnicity or gender.

2. Empathy 

Simply treating everyone the same is not the same as being fair. Be empathetic of your employees, put yourself in their people’s shoes and think about how that makes you feel. Also remember that you cannot always understand the lived experiences of others.

Remember, people of other ethnicities and cultural backgrounds tend to draw different meanings from the same objects, events or actions. For many, these different interpretations can be strange or weird. It’s important to understand first and judge later.

3. Knowledge

The best source of knowledge is your employees themselves. Talk to them about where they come from, how they got here and what makes them them.

It’s essential that you are knowledgeable of your employees’ specific holidays. One idea is to start a multicultural calendar incorporating all the holidays – both religious and cultural – into one document. This will stop you making the mistake of scheduling a mandatory meeting on a religious holiday.

4. Communication

The majority of workplace misunderstandings stem from an inability or unwillingness to talk. Culture is centred on how a group understands each other and communicates that understanding. As a manager, it is highly important to find mutual pathways of information.

In other words, cultural competence rests on the ability to properly communicate with people from various backgrounds.

Cultural competence is a key skill that all managers and leaders should have. Unlike other skills, it is learnt rather than innate.

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