Cultural Competencies - in or out?
When people come into culturally mixed group situations there is sometimes an awkwardness that they don’t seem to have the skill to deal with.
Some have commented "I thought I had the knowledge and skill for the job but I find it tricky to handle the ambiguity that goes with culturally different ways of doing things."
Organisation benefit when cultural competencies named
The recent trend to develop cultural competencies for staff has raised the question as to whether a cultural competency can stand on its own or should it be integrated within other tasks, for example, managing team meetings in a culturally competent way?
The Manukau City Council in the late 1990s addressed this question by developing a standalone competency called a Treaty of Waitangi competency. This was because it was realised that to integrate that thinking into an already existing monocultural system would place staff engagement, at that point, beyond the reach of most staff.
The strategy therefore was to develop the standalone competency and provide education support and challenge for staff to use it and then to integrate it systematically within all organisational competencies and at the same time embed the thinking within the systems of the Council operation.
An example of a standalone statement of cultural competency from a Treaty perspective is as follows:
Treaty of Waitangi
A person demonstrating this competency recognises the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi (its preamble and articles) by developing and implementing work practices that are consistent with the Crown’s Treaty obligations.
Level one indicators
Level two indicators
Level three indicators
Unacceptable behaviours under this competency
The integrated version followed and covered all organisational competencies.
Staff at the Manukau City Council found cultural competencies and their eventual integration:
Want to know more?