Cultural Competence, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiative
Click on one of the titles below for more information.
Cultural competence is a set of corresponding behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enable them to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. Cultural competence is significant part of eliminating barriers to accessing services.1,2 Additionally, cultural competence is a combination of cultural knowledge, cultural awareness, and cultural sensitivity. A culturally competent organization has the capacity to bring into its system many different behaviors, attitudes, and policies and work effectively in cross-cultural settings to produce better outcomes.3
Diversity recognizes that each person is unique and recognizes our individual differences in perspectives, identity, and points of view among individuals in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. Diversity includes important and interrelated dimensions of human identity such as race, ethnicity, color, gender, socio-economic status, nationality, citizenship, education, geographic origin, religion, sexual orientation, ability, age, political beliefs, and or other ideologies.4
The practice of inclusion, sometimes also referred to as social inclusion, means that all people should feel valued, have their differences respected, and have their basic needs met. This is so that each person can live a life where they are treated with dignity and respect, where they have the opportunity to participate fully, and where they have a voice so that they can influence decisions that affect them.5,6
Cultural Competence is important because it is a significant part of eliminating barriers to accessing services. Cultural competence as a framework creates systems, agencies and groups of professionals who are receptive to the diverse needs of their clients. Agencies that offer non-judgemental services and are responsive to the beliefs, practices and cultural and linguistic needs of their clients can bring about positive relationships with their clients and the community.1,7
The cultural competence, diversity and inclusion of an organization is impacted by numerous factors. This section suggests seven strategies for promoting and sustaining organizational and systemic cultural competence, diversity, and inclusion. These strategies represent initial steps that organizations can employ as a means of becoming more self-reflective and committed to continually improving cultural competence, diversity and inclusion. This section also discusses the importance of assessments for agencies in their quest to become more culturally competent, diverse and inclusive. More Information
Organizations who commit to cultural competence, diversity and inclusion as core competencies of the organization will be successful in reaping the benefits of a diverse, culturally competent, inclusive workforce. This section describes how cultural competence, diversity and inclusion benefit organizations and in what ways. More Information
How can I (as an individual) embrace diversity, become more culturally competent and practice inclusion?
Becoming culturally competent, diverse and inclusive involves gaining knowledge about people who are different from you, examining ones attitudes towards different cultures and people, and obtaining skills to provide services for all people. This section provides suggestions about how individuals can become more culturally competent, how they can embrace diversity and how they can practice inclusion. More Information
As we are all cultural beings who possess multiple identities, including but not limited to race and ethnicity, sex and gender, sexual orientation, ability/disability, religious affiliation, and socioeconomic status, understanding how our own identities and others' intersect is critical to developing cultural competency. Given the many facets of culture, it is worth noting that every exchange is, potentially, a cross-cultural exchange; two individuals are unlikely to be identical in every aspect of cultural identity and expression.
As you read the following sections dealing with a variety of specific populations, we hope you do not see the information as an end in itself, but rather as a means to assist you when working collaboratively with clients in your work. It is important not to stereotype clients or over-generalize based on the information presented. Clients must be seen in their totality, as unique individuals, as people who share similarities with their reference groups, and as Homo sapiens who share the human condition with everyone.
This section provides tips and resources for providing culturally competent, diverse and inclusive services to children and youth.
Agency assessments for organizations working with Children and Youth are available here.
This section provides statistics, definitions, tips and resources for organizations working with Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylees.
Agency assessments for organizations working with Immigrants, Refugees and Asylees are available here.
LGBTQIA is an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (or queer), intersex, and asexual (or ally). While not exhaustive, this abbreviation is often used to represent the community as a whole. The Q can refer to those who are questioning their sexual or gender orientation. Similarly, the A can refer to individuals who identify as asexual or as allies to the LGBT community.
This section provides definitions of commonly misused terms surrounding LGBTQIA populations. This section also provides specific academic and governmental resources for providers LGBTQIA populations.
Agency assessments for organizations working with LGBTQIA populations are available here.
This section provides tips for working with racial / ethnic minorities. It also provides specific academic and governmental resources for providers who serve racial and ethnic minorities.
Agency assessments for organizations working with racial / ethnic minorities are available here.
This section provides information, statistics and resources for organizations who work with people who are experiencing homelessness.
Agency assessments for organizations working with people who are experiencing homelessness are available here.
This section provides information and resources for organizations working with people who have criminal histories.
Links to assessments can be found here.
This section provides information, tips and resources for organizations working with people with disabilities. This section also dispels common myths about people with disabilities.
Agency assessments for organizations working with People with Disabilities are available here.
This section provides statistics, tips and resources for organizations working with seniors.
Agency assessments for organizations working with Seniors are available here.
This section provides information, statistics, and resources for organizations providing services to veterans.
Agency assessments for organizations working with Veterans are available here.
This section provides information, statistics, and resources for organizations providing services to people with limited English proficiency.
Agency assessments for organizations working with Veterans are available here.
This section provides information, statistics, and resources for organizations providing services to people with low levels of literacy.
Agency assessments for organizations working with people with low levels of literacy are available here.
- General Population Assessments
- Children and Youth
- People of Color
- People with Disabilities
To view the assessments please click here. Keep in mind that while the assessments may be specifically for certain types of service providers many are general enough to meet the needs of your agency.
- Cross, T., Bazron, B.J., Dennis, K.W., & Isaacs, M.R. (1989). Towards a culturally competent system of care: A monograph on effective services for
minority children who are severely emotionally disturbed. Retrieved from:
- United States Department of Human Services National Institutes of Health. (2013, May 14). Cultural competency – Clear communication: An NIH health literacy initiative. Retrieved from: http://www.nih.gov/clearcommunication/culturalcompetency.htm
- University of Kansas Work Group for Community Health and Development. (2013). Cultural competence in a multicultural world. The Community Tool Box. (Chapter 27). Retrieved from: http://ctb.ku.edu/en/tablecontents/chapter_1027.aspx
- United States Department of the Interior Office of Civil Rights (n.d.). What is diversity? Retrieved from: http://www.doi.gov/pmb/eeo/what-is-diversity.cfm
- Thompson, K.S., & Rowe, M. (2010). Social inclusion. Psychiatric Services. 61(8). Retrieved from: http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleID=101488
- Australian Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Social Inclusion Unit. (2009). The Australian public service social inclusion policy design and delivery toolkit. Retrieved from: http://www.socialinclusion.gov.au/sites/default/files/publications/pdf/social-inclusion-toolkit_0.pdf
- United States Department of Human Services Office of Minority Health. (2013). What is cultural competency? Retrieved from: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=11
Research and content for Cultural Competency, Diversity, and Inclusion pages developed by University of Texas graduate students Matt Chester and Lauren Ivy
Click the above image for a larger view.
From Diverse Teams at Work, Gardenswartz & Rowe (SHRM, 2003)
"Internal Dimensions and External Dimensions" are adapted from Marilyn Loden and Judy Rosener, Workforce America! (Business One Irwin, 1991)
Seven Strategies for an Organization to Become More Culturally Competent, Diverse and Inclusive
- Provide executive level support and accountability
- Foster client, community, and key stakeholder participation and partnerships.
- Conduct agency assessments to measure cultural competence diversity and inclusion within the agency.
- Develop incremental and realistic cultural competence action plans.
- Ensure linguistic competence.
- Diversify, develop, and retain a culturally competent workforce.
- Develop a system strategy for managing staff and client grievances.