Cultural competence is defined as a person's ability to interact with people with cultures and come from different backgrounds. In terms of cultural competence the term culture is not limited to people from other countries or other races but includes people from different religions, professions, educational background, sexual orientation, gender, and socioeconomic level. If a person is culturally competent they treat people of differing cultures with respect and understanding.
To be culturally competent it takes educating oneself. As situations arise, continuing education might be necessary. It is also necessary for an individual to be empathetic to the feelings of people of other cultures. Finally, it is helpful for a person to be self-aware and self-confident and to understand his/her own cultural identity. It is a process that takes time and occurs along a continuum.
Not only can individual people be culturally competent, so can businesses and organizations. Businesses must understand the culture of the people they are trying to reach and change their approach accordingly. When pertaining to a workforce, it is important that managers and employees practice cultural competence and do what they can to welcome people of differing cultures and make sure they feel represented and understood. It is also important that businesses and organizations invest in train other employees to build cultural competency across the staff through training. This training should avoid the inclusion of cultural stereotypes. Businesses that are not culturally competent can have a negative psychological effect on employees. If companies and organizations do not take cultural competency seriously, it can lead to disgruntled employees and possible lawsuits.
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