Personal Development
How Cultural Humility versus Cultural Competence Impacts ...

How Cultural Humility versus Cultural Competence Impacts ...

Shiken premium Upgrade Banner

Understanding Cultural Humility for Improved Inclusion

The modern workplace is ever-evolving, meaning that diversity, inclusion, and belonging are now top priorities for businesses. No longer is it enough to simply hire people of different backgrounds; it is also necessary to create a culture where everyone feels like they belong and are valued. Achieving this goal can be accomplished through a concept known as cultural humility, which focuses on self-awareness, self-reflection, and open-mindedness when learning about different cultures.

Cultural competence is often mistaken for cultural humility. Although similar, cultural competence is a social fluency that focuses on understanding a culture's language, customs, beliefs, and patterns. This can lead to a reduction of individuals to stereotypes and overlook their complexity as human beings. Cultural humility, on the other hand, understands intersectionality, as well as one's own implicit biases, and emphasizes learning about each other.

Cultural humility includes six essential traits: curiosity and willingness to learn, realistic ongoing self-appraisal, flexibility, humility and courage, an interest in hearing another person's perspective, and sensitivity to power imbalances. When an organization creates a culture of cultural humility, teams can benefit from improved collaboration, increased engagement, enhanced resilience and agility, and improved business outcomes.

The Benefits of Incorporating Cultural Humility in the Workplace

Cultural humility adopts the mindset of considering oneself as having an understanding of the world which can be flawed. This allows us to recognize our own shortcomings and biases, which can help in creating DEIB initiatives. It is important to note that cultural humility is not a destination nor a perfect understanding of a particular culture. It is, however, a practice that guides our perspective on the world and those who inhabit it.

Tervalon & Murray-Garcia identified three criteria for developing cultural humility:

  • A perpetual commitment to self-assessment and self-reflection.
  • A willingness to address power imbalances.
  • A desire to build relationships with those who represent minority groups.

Adopting cultural humility into the workplace can lead to a number of benefits, such as improved psychological safety, collaboration, communication, well-being, and mental health, as well as reduced interpersonal conflict.

Practicing Cultural Humility in the Workplace

Cultural humility must not only be preached but practiced. Businesses can do this by setting up social events and programs in the workplace to help everyone understand each other better. Additionally, providing education on breaking down stereotypes can be beneficial in reducing prejudice.

The Power of Cultural Humility for a Diverse and Inclusive Work Environment

Social events are a great way to make 'diversity' more natural and enjoyable. Investing in coaching can help people to build self-awareness and gain confidence to communicate effectively in any given situation. Additionally, allowing others to take the lead on conversations is an invaluable part of promoting cultural humility.

Cultural humility encourages people to express their unique stories and experiences. It is important to recognize how culture can both shape and be shaped by any given situation.

Building Cultural Humility Teams

  • Use what you learn to benefit others, not yourself.

Here's an example of how cultural humility and cultural competence can work together: After learning that women of color are under-represented in executive roles, you share your newfound knowledge with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Board executives. In collaboration with human resources, you set a goal to increase the number of people from minority backgrounds in leadership positions by 10%.

You then hold meetings with representatives of employee group organizations and create a safe space for them to discuss what they think is hindering them from achieving more leadership roles. You discover that while practices can be implemented to help those of color, there are also lack of resources for parents. As a result, many of your top female leaders (of any ethnicity) resign due to insufficient flexibility.

By focusing on the wellbeing of all employees, you can make a larger impact on the cultural diversity of the leadership team.

Limitations of Cultural Competence

  • Be aware of the restrictions of competence.

The concept of cultural competence implies a finite point of understanding. It suggests that a person can learn enough about a culture or group of people to become fully competent. However, this way of thinking does not leave room for culture or people to change. It is a static, simplified process and does not bridge the gap to true inclusion.

The differences between people are a crucial factor in the success of any inclusion initiatives.

The Power of a Diverse and Inclusive Work Environment

A diverse and inclusive work environment can help foster innovation, creativity, collaboration, and belonging. Belittling our differences does not create a better workplace, but instead an environment of dull uniformity.

The Danger of Cultural Competence

  • Be mindful of the risks of competence.

The issue with cultural competence is that people can be deceived into believing they are well-informed. They may think they have 'passed the test,' when in reality they have missed out on the opportunity to ask questions and stay open-minded. Cultural humility is about having curiosity and respect for the unknown and continually striving for knowledge and understanding.

It's Time to Stop Asking 'Culture Fit' Questions

When hiring, it is important to veer away from the idea of culture fit and instead focus on 'culture add.' An applicant's unique values, skills, and expertise can bring a valuable viewpoint to the workplace. Here is a list of 17 culture add interview questions to help you attract top talent.

Is Company Culture Your Competitive Advantage or Hidden Inertia?

Culture can either be a huge benefit if the company is thriving or be detrimental if the organization is struggling. It is important to assess whether your company culture is helping you gain a competitive edge or is making it more difficult to achieve success.

Grow Your Business with a Coaching Culture

As companies grow, developing a culture of coaching can be an incredibly powerful advantage. It can also help people in the organization learn new skills and increase productivity. To get the most out of this, there are key strategies to building a culture of coaching in the workplace.

6 Proven Strategies to Boost Your Coaching Culture

Creating a culture where employees gain satisfaction and productivity is possible through the right techniques. Here are six strategies to boost your coaching culture:

  • Recognize, reward, and motivate employees.
  • Promote a learning environment.
  • Be clear about your mission and purpose.
  • Stay engaged and act on feedback.
  • Minimize bureaucracy.
  • Encourage collaboration.

Create Positive Communication for Positive Culture

Communication is key to creating a positive culture; what you say and how it is said shapes your team's environment. Consciously using a language that is supportive of the culture you want to create is essential for success.

Creating Cultural Change Requires Behavioral Change

Changing the culture of an organization requires people to change their behavior. Developing and embracing an environment of awareness and respect is essential for creating an inclusive culture.

Cultivating Cultural Competency: 8 Ways to Get Started

To be successful in a global business world, you must be able to recognize, understand, and appreciate cultural diversity. Here are eight ways to develop cultural competency:

  • Appreciate and learn about diverse cultures.
  • Avoid stereotyping people or cultures.
  • Have meaningful conversations.
  • Understand and explore cultural values.
  • Treat everyone with respect and sensitivity.
  • Show respect towards different cultures.
  • Look for commonalities between cultures.
  • Be aware of local customs and norms.

Join Shiken For FREE

AI-powered learning tools. Create, relax, learn.

Gumbo Study Buddy

Try Shiken Premium
for Free

14-day free trial. Cancel anytime.
Get Started
Join 20,000+ learners worldwide.
The first 14 days are on us
96% of learners report x2 faster learning
Free hands-on onboarding & support
Cancel Anytime