Below you will find frameworks for practicing in a culturally competent manner and increasing diversity and inclusion. Frameworks for individuals and organizations are provided. However, individuals within organizations should practice cultural competency on an individual level, and suggestions in the framework for organizations may apply to an individual’s practice. You may benefit from reviewing both frameworks.

These frameworks include suggestions related to learning and action and should be used as a guiding resource rather than a recipe or a means to an end.  It is important to understand that there is no “end” in developing cultural competency. Cultural Competency is an ongoing, lifelong practice that requires commitment.  

Framework for Individuals

Adopt a Stance of Cultural Humility

  • Cultural humility is an approach and a way of being that includes holding oneself accountable, committing to lifelong learning and critical reflection, and mitigating power imbalances1
  • Take a learner’s stance and a position of “not knowing” 2
  • Understand that each person is the expert on their personal cultures and identities 3
  • Be curious about others’ cultures and identities and believe that there is always more to learn 4
  • Avoid stereotyping and generalizing, understand that knowledge of a cultural group or shared identity does not necessarily apply to every individual in that group or with that identity 5
  • Accept that making mistakes is part of the process, own up to and learn from them 6
  • Be aware of and address power imbalances (ex. the societal power differential between those who identify as male and those who identify as female, the power differential between service provider and client) 7

Learn About Yourself

  • Increase awareness of personal cultures and identities by reflecting on the past and noticing the present (ex. upbringing, history, lifestyle, ideologies, relationships, cultural groups, personal identities, etc.) 8
  • Learn about and cultivate awareness of how your personal cultures and identities do or do not award you power and privilege within society and the implications for your relationships, interactions with others, and experience in the world, paying special attention to the intersections of between various cultures and identities 9
  • Cultivate self-awareness of how you interact with others, especially those who are different from you 10
  • Use relationships with supervisors, colleagues, and mentors to enrich self-awareness and self-reflection 11
  • Practice ongoing self-reflection and self-critique, be open to noticing your personal attitudes, beliefs, biases, assumptions, stereotypes, and misconceptions 12
  • Be aware of and challenge your own ethnocentric beliefs, an ethnocentric belief is, “a belief that one’s own culture is superior to others and is the standard by which all other people should be judged and manifests in the assumption that one’s own values, priorities, and perspectives are universal rather than culturally specific” 13

Learn About Others

  • Learn about cultures and identities that are different from your own by attending events and trainings, reading and viewing educational material, and listening to and interacting with others 14 
  • Learn about and cultivate awareness of how others’ cultures and identities do or do not award them power and privilege within society and the implications for your relationships, interactions with others, and experiences in the world, paying special attention to the intersections between various cultures and identities 15
  • Form relationships with individuals from diverse groups, outside of the helping relationship (volunteering, within the community, socializing with peers, etc.) (How do I become CC?)
  • Embrace the unknown and the uncomfortable 16
  • Recognize, appreciate, and celebrate the strengths that exist in all cultures and identities 17

Speak Up and Take Action

  • Use knowledge and awareness of power and privilege to advocate for others, address power imbalances, and challenge structural and institutional oppression
  • Work to develop, “mutually beneficial and non paternalistic clinical and advocacy partnerships”
  • Develop the skill and confidence to respond skillfully to biases within yourself and others, and to facilitate difficult conversations around cultural competency, power, privilege, and oppression
  • Share information and knowledge of different cultures, identities, and the practice of cultural competency with others
  • Work to employ culturally appropriate intervention strategies in professional practice and be willing to provide services in different ways and to make culture central to the interaction

Framework for Organizations

This Framework was adapted from a Framework provided throughout the literature on cultural competency.  Specifically, it was adapted from the five essentials for organizational cultural competence.

Value Diversity

  • Recruit, hire, and retain diverse, multilingual, and multicultural staff, ensuring that the cultures and identities of clients being served are represented in the staff
  • Include clients, community partners, staff, stakeholders, experts, and specialists in agency work and cultural competency planning
  • Include diverse groups in the development of agency practices, program structure and design, and treatment strategies and approaches

Invest in and Prioritize Cultural Competency

  • Allocate funding and other necessary resources for cultural competency initiatives within the organization
  • Ensure that the organization’s vision, mission, value statements, policies and procedures and job postings are inclusive, culturally competent, and promote diversity
  • Ensure that the organization’s physical space is accessible and inclusive – decorated in a manner that is welcoming and physically accessible for all, among others.)
  • Perform a self-assessment of the organization’s cultural competency to create an action plan, and continuously monitor and evaluate the plan
  • Implement cultural competency in strategic planning
  • Support staff, partners, work groups, and/or committees in executing cultural competency plan
  • Do not tolerate and have a system to address remarks and behaviors that are biased, discriminatory, and marginalizing, and/or demeaning to specific cultures and identities

Institutionalize Cultural Knowledge

  • Support employees’ development of knowledge, skills, and self-awareness by disseminating information, and providing cultural competency training, and professional development opportunities
  • Incorporate cultural competency into employee supervision, standards, and evaluation

Adapt to the Cultural Contexts of Populations Served

  • Review current and emergent trends within the community and the population/s served to create a demographic profile, use this to inform services and agency practices
  • Use the demographic profile to inform services, outreach strategies, and agency practices, tailoring to the unique needs of clients and the community
  • Meet linguistic needs of clients and the community by providing interpreter services and translated materials and informing clients of these resources
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