Cultural Competency

Why you should embed this into your organisation

What is cultural competency and why does it matter?

Cultural competency. Not just a buzz phrase but an important facet of living in a bicultural society, it’s also an increasingly important priority for businesses and not-for-profit organisations to demonstrate their skills in.

 Hang on, did you just say “bicultural society?!?!?  But we’re a multicultural country!  Why would we only focus on two cultures?!?

 Yes, Aotearoa is home to many different cultures – over 200 of them.  But, bicultural doesn’t mean that others aren’t important.  Biculturalism is more about the relationship between the founding cultures, while Multiculturalism is about the acceptance of cultural differences. 

Our founding document, The Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi, is an agreement between two cultures: Tāngata Whenua, Māori who were the first settlers of Aotearoa and the British.  We now class all those who are non-Māori as Tāngata Tiriti, all those who have the right to settle here as a result of this founding document. 

Ok, so that’s a really rough overview and there are probably gaps to that, but in a nutshell it explains biculturalism vs multiculturalism and why you’ll see Aotearoa defined as a bicultural society.

Cultural competency doesn’t mean you need to be an expert in other cultures, but you do need to function effectively and respectfully when working with people of different cultural backgrounds.

While important on its own, this is just the starting point for any organisations expression of tolerance. There is so much more to D&I than just stating of boundaries or “bare-level” standards.

Defining your organisations D&I is about striving for equality. Its not about ticking a race card or about making sure there are enough women (any woman) at the table. It’s not so you can say you have included the token minority.

What it is about is reducing inequalities, having good D&I practices in place to support those policies goes further again by reducing inequities.

When you have practices in place that address diversity and inclusion on a daily basis, you also increase accessibility. All of these factors make for increased wellbeing.