Characteristics of a Culturally Competent Organization

photo of children drumming
  • Respects the unique, culturally defined needs of various client and employee populations.
  • Acknowledges culture as a predominant force in shaping behavior, values, and institutions.
  • Values natural systems (family, community, church, healers, etc.) as mechanisms of support for client and employee populations.
  • Recognizes that the concepts of "family," "community," etc., are different for various cultures and even for subgroups within cultures.
  • Believes that diversity within cultures is as important as diversity between cultures.
  • Understands that the needs of some clients may require that they are served by people who share their cultural identity. Also recognizes that employees may need to have mentors in the organization who share their cultural experiences.
  • Is conscious of what cultural groups are affected by decisions of the organization, and works to ensure that those perspectives are given full consideration in the process.
  • Treats concerns and even complaints raised regarding cultural issues as valid and important-acknowledges the impact of behaviors regardless of the intent.
  • Goes beyond non-discrimination to an environment that welcomes and encourages diversity.
  • Understands the difference between tokenism and authentic representation.
  • Listens to the needs of clients and employees without making generalizations about individuals based on some element of fact related to a cultural group.
  • Forms equal partnerships with a broad range of constituent groups.

Adapted From: Cross-Cultural Health Care Program [Attn: Non-MDH link]