Why CC is Foundational to the Work of D&I


Tomorrow marks the start of the 12th annual SIETAR conference (Society for Intercultural Training Education and Research). This conference is all about Cultural Competence and I am dismayed by the minimal level of corporate participation and the few D&I professionals attending. 

What is Cultural Competence? It’s the ability to interact effectively across difference.


Why should the D&I field care about Cultural Competence? We now know that only 10% of our population is actually effective when interacting across difference—or culturally competent (as measured by the Intercultural Development Inventory).  That means, on average, 90% of a typical workforce is not able to effectively communicate, interpret, adapt or make decisions when difference is a part of the mix; which, in reality, is in every interaction. 

I see an abundance of hard-working, committed and well-intentioned professionals in the D&I field. They create recruitment and retention programs, lead Diversity training, devote themselves to achieving leadership buy-in, and the list goes on.  What good is all of this hard work if the workforce isn’t competent enough to do something with it or if leadership doesn’t have the necessary mindset and skillset to be more effective and lead this work?   Even the best of individual intentions and strongest organizational strategy are useless if they fall into an organization that lacks cultural competence.