What Does it Mean to be Culturally Competent?

4 Nov 2015

What does it mean to be culturally competent? And how can we as individuals and organizations move beyond competence to cultural fluency? A group of AOR members explored these questions together at a recent AOR workshop led by Maketa Wilborn, an organizational development consultant, facilitator, artist and educator.

The workshop started with personal reflection and exploration and moved to discussions about how organizations can become more culturally responsive.

We learned that cultural competence is knowledge of other cultural ways of being and that compentency goes beyond being open minded and accepting of others and also includes understanding “where people are coming from.” To do this individuals need to build their knowledge of the influence of history and the current systems of privelge and preference that impact the people and communities we work with. Asking questions, listening for understanding and striving to understand the impact of our actions or words on others are key skills we need to develop to become culturally competent.

Wilborn used small group discussions, activities that got the whole group up out of their chairs and moving, and large group conversations that were captured with images and words to engage us in learning throughout the workshop. We left the workshop with a model for developing cultural fluency, as well as techniques we can apply to our interactions with others and the development of programs and services.