Cultural Competency Training: Achieving Cultural Competence in the Workplace

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Compared to a hundred years ago, countries, cities, and even companies have become more culturally diverse. Now more than ever, you can witness and interact with people from various cultures and ethnicities around the world. We owe a big part of this to how civilization and technology have spread like wildfire to most parts of the globe. 

Because the world around us is so diverse, disagreements are bound to occur. It shouldn’t be a surprise as it isn’t uncommon for people of different cultures and ethnicity to disagree on certain topics and ideas. While disagreement between people of different cultures isn’t a bad thing, letting it affect our peaceful co-existence is, and this shouldn’t have to happen. 

In the workplace where the success of a business is tied to how employees interact with their colleagues and the management, cultural competence is a must. Without it, unhealthy relationships are bound to exist and there’ll be constant disagreements with the slightest things. In this article, we’ll examine how regardless of cultural or ethnic background, cultural competence can make the workplace conducive for everyone. 

What is Cultural Competence?

Cultural competence in its most basic form is the ability to effectively interact and communicate with people across different cultures with varying beliefs and practices. It allows for peaceful co-existence with people from different races, backgrounds, and religions. Cultural competence is vital to fostering an open, productive, and collaborative work environment. 

While employees can personally try to become culturally competent, how strong, and seriously this behavior is taken in the workplace depends on the management. The way the management of a company takes cultural competence will directly reflect on how the employees and workers exhibit it. By introducing cultural competency training, companies let their employees know that they are intentional about it. 

Therefore, employers and managers must make it their responsibility to foster the development of this behavior in every aspect of the business, both internally and externally. The skill or behavior can be cultivated and developed by enhancing certain skills among employees and leaders in an organization. 

The Importance of Cultural Competence in the Workplace

Companies and organizations stand to gain a lot from a culturally competent workplace. Some of the advantages of cultivating this skill among employees include:

Greater Chance of Expanding into New Markets

By developing the skills and knowledge to understand diverse cultures, companies stand a greater chance of successfully entering new markets and expanding globally. These companies know best how to learn from and communicate with people from different backgrounds, whether they be partners, colleagues, or clients.  

Employee Satisfaction

It doesn’t take much for employees to be satisfied with their work. All they want is to be treated well, like humans and not robots. In the workplace, when employees feel understood, seen, and heard, chances are that they’ll be satisfied with work. When the workplace is such that everyone gets along fine regardless of race or culture, productivity, creativity, and confidence increases in workers. What’s more, is that employees can build better relationships that could carry on even after the job. 

Unique Perspectives and Broader Range of Skills

Having workers from different cultures brings different perspectives to the workplace. With a broader range of skills, perspectives, and knowledge, companies can better solve problems and drive innovation. In a team with culturally diverse people, new and unexpected ideas are proposed that can push the organization forward. According to one Harvard Business Review, about 95% of corporate board directors agree that diversity brings unique perspectives to the boardroom, 84% say it also enhances performance. 

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Description automatically generated with low confidenceImproved Collaboration and Communication

In the workplace, cultural competence can help employees and managers communicate better with clients and co-workers, thereby, boosting productivity and engagement. In fact, a study by Cloverpop revealed that inclusive teams make decisions two times faster with fewer meetings and deliver better results by as much as 60%. Click here to learn more about this study. 

Improving Cultural Competence in the Workplace

The following are ways companies can improve cultural competence:

Training

One of the fastest and perhaps most effective ways that companies can promote the acceptance and appreciation of diversity is by training their employees. The workplace will become much more inclusive when workers become more aware of how other cultures work. 

This training should cover:

  • What cultural competency is
  • Its importance in the workplace
  • How everyone can benefit from cultural diversity
  • How to overcome cultural barriers. 

Active Listening

How frequently do we actively listen to people that have varying beliefs and ideologies from our own? By actively listening to others from different backgrounds we can learn more about them, their experiences, and the unique perspective in which they see the world. We should listen to understand other people’s perspective and not correct or persuade them otherwise.  

Group Projects

Pairing employees from different cultures is another way to promote diversity. As they work together, they get to appreciate one another better and develop stronger bonds and relationships. Visit https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/metallurgy-materials/about/cases/group-work/why.aspx to learn more about the benefits of working in groups. 

Final Thoughts

Like we mentioned earlier, thanks to civilization and technology, cultures from different parts of the world are coming together, and they will stay this way. So, the only way for us all to thrive as a species is by learning to accept and tolerate other cultures. For businesses, the benefits can be astonishing.