It would be naive to say that measuring cultural competency is easy. We certainly cant evaluate by any reasonable manner the degree to which anyone manages cultural diversity. In the interests of self improvement however I think it is important to reflect and challenge ourselves to get better and better. The following checklist aims to do that. Its goal is to provide a lens through which global leaders might effectively “check” their focus on something that is so essential in a global context.
- We acknowledge and recognise the significance of culture and the influence it has on human interaction, understanding and function
- We identify with some accuracy the ways in which our backgrounds affect our response to others
- We do not overly generalise or assume that all members of all cultural groups collectively share the exact same beliefs and practices
- We know that our past experiences shape and affect our present interactions
- We acknowledge and build on the strengths and resources that each unique culture brings to an organization
- We invest time and resources into leadership and staff development that focusses on cultural awareness, sensitivity, and understanding
- We ensure that prejudice and discrimination, whether subtle or overt, is eliminated in all policies and practices
- We share positional power and opportunities for influence among leaders of all different cultural backgrounds
- We regularly reflect on and evaluate the organisation’s cultural competence then adopt changes for improvement
Reflecting and evaluating is the first step but what next? Once we measure cultural competency how do we improve it?
Improving Cultural Competency:
- Encourage and provide support for the change throughout your organisation before measuring cultural competency (who wants change and who doesn’t?)
- Identify the specific cultural groups who will be involved (who needs to be actively involved in the planning, implementation, and reinforcement of the change?)
- Identify all the barriers for effective work within your organisation (what is currently not working? What will stop you or slow you down?)
- Reflect on and evaluate your own current level of cultural competence (what knowledge, skills, and resources can you build on? Where are the gaps? )
- Determine what resources are needed (how much funding is required to bring about the change? Where can you find the resources?)
- Create a clear plan and goals. Implement steps and deadlines for achieving small and large goals. (who can do what, when, and how?).
- Make a demonstrated commitment to regular reviews and ongoing evaluation of progress when you are measuring cultural competency. (measuring outcomes) Be willing to respond to change and the obstacles along the way (what does progress and success look like? What are the signs that will tell you that the organisation is on the right track?).
Bridging Language Barriers:
We are cautious to accept that language is the reason for cultural barriers but it certainly is a tool that provides access. Language tends to cut people in and it cuts people out.
- Arrange for competent bilingual translators for meetings who also understand the nuance of cultural difference that exists within languages.
- Determine in advance whether meetings will be bilingual. It may be more effective to consider breaking into smaller groups conducted in different languages as needed.
- Ensure that all relevant materials are produced in all languages, as appropriate.
- Use a vocabulary that is multicultural with terms and phrases that respect and reflect cultural differences. Words can change actions, and actions can change the organisation in significant ways.
- Create a non-blame culture that rests the responsibility of effective communication and understanding on the sender, not just the receiver.
We Must Think and Behave Differently:
We need to change how people think in order to make an organisation more culturally competent. This includes how people think about other cultures, how they communicate, and how they behave. The whole organisational structure, leadership, and all activities of must reflect the many and varied values, perspectives, styles, and priorities of its people. It is not just how an organisation looks or what it professes. An organisation that is culturally competent emphasises the significant advantages of cultural diversity. It celebrates the contributions of each culture and encourages the positive outcomes of interacting with many cultures. Leaders support the sharing of power across people from different cultures and backgrounds. We need to go beyond just measuring cultural competency. To change in a meaningful way organisations must commit to the creation of a place that is inclusive of all cultures and celebrates diversity as a strength.
Who is Global Services in Education (GSE)
Global Services in Education is a company led by education experts. They are proven education leaders who know how to set up and manage international schools. GSE can lead the project from the initial idea to set up and full management. Kindergarten, Primary, Middle and High School, Universities and Adult education.
“I love great food and I love beautiful restaurants but that doesn’t mean I should set up and operate a restaurant. Everyone has been to a school and many have sent their children to one but that does not mean they are fully qualified and have the skills to guarantee the school’s success. The key difference between a great school and a failing school is its educational leadership. GSE has developed a reputation for being an invaluable bridge between education and business, particularly in unique cultural contexts.” Greg Parry, CEO.
Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for edu-cation institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognised for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Ministers Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company GSE (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education 2015 and 2016. Considered one of the premier experts in his profession, Greg has trained teachers and principals throughout the world in areas such as critical thinking, language development and leadership. His expertise in school start up projects, leadership and curriculum development, has made him a sought after authority in these disciplines.