Cultural Competence

I used to think…..

Cultural competence and cultural intelligence were the same.

What I learned….

Cross defines cultural competence as:

“(A) set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals and enable that system, agency, or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. The word ‘culture’ is used because it implies the integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious, or social group. The word competence is used because it implies having the capacity to function effectively.” (Washington,2020)

Hernandez and Rose (2012) believe that cultural competence impacts an individual’s capacity for awareness and engagement in intercultural relations.

Individuals and organizations can engage in auditing and assessing the elements of a cultural competence by examining the following:

* Valuing diversity: Although an environment believes it values diversity are they truly inclusive? Are there micro or macro aggressions, bias or discrimination? Is there an awareness of the factor that make the environment diverse?

* Cultural Awareness: Does my (our) behaviour match my(our) stated beliefs?

* Consciousness of Dynamics: Am I aware of my biases and how they impact my interactions with others?

* Cultural knowledge: What do I know about other cultures, races, religions, identities? Have I taken the time to educate myself? How, what and where can I learn?

* Adaptations to Diversity
: How can I build my skills to approach diversity in a more effective way? What things so we need to assess or change within the organization? (Washington,2020)

This model allows individuals and organizations to assess where they are on the continuum of cultural competence.

The goal is for individuals and organizations to get to the cultural proficiency stage. This requires awareness, transparency and a commitment for change. There must be an honest attempt to examine at biases and behaviours to make the changes required.

Note. From “When Twice as Good Isn’t Enough: The Case for Cultural Competence in Computing,” by Washington, A.,2020, SIGCSE ’20, March 11–14 (pg. 215).

What have you learned?


Hernandez, F., & Kose, B. W. (2011). The developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. Education and Urban Society, 44(4), 512–530. doi: 10.1177/0013124510393336

Washington, A. N. (2020). When Twice as Good Isn’t Enough The Case for Cultural Competence in Computing (pp. 213-219, Conference Paper). Portland, OR: SIGCSE ’20.

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