How Are You Developing Cultural Competence in Your Organization?

There is a growing recognition of the importance of cultural competence in leading organizations.  I have just completed a comprehensive study of best practices, and here are a few conclusions:

Organizations such as Johnson & Johnson and Hilton Hotels use a competency-based professional development assessment process and have added cultural competence or global mindset to their list of required competencies. Even without such a mandate, increasingly, leading companies such as Novartis and American Express are offering a basic cross-cultural competence course to all employees at all levels. Everyone in the organization needs an understanding of how to work effectively with associates, clients and suppliers from diverse cultural backgrounds and how to develop a global mindset.

A core course to meet this requirement should cover:

  • Cultural awareness of self and others.
  • The consequences of cultural assumptions.
  • Ways to promote effective working relations.
  • Styles of doing business around the world.
  • Cultural differences in communication styles.
  • The impact of virtual communications on intercultural understanding.
  • An overview for each major region.
  • An action planning session with clear timelines and metrics for implementing the new practices based on a culturally competent platform.

Ideally, each course should be customized for the specific needs and mission of the organization and the participants. Most programs also feature a cross-cultural diagnostic assessment tool that allows participants to gauge their cultural style to other cultures and a process to develop strategies to bridge these cultural differences. Ideally the programs should be supplemented with follow-up activities, e-learning or a Web-based portal.

Please share what you are doing to promote cultural competence in you organization.