By: Cait Wilson, Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Utah
The global economy transformed the way we do business. Companies have diverse customers from around the world with different backgrounds. As a result, businesses develop and market products and services cross-culturally. Cultural competence is crucial for companies and employees to succeed in the global marketplace.
What is Cultural Competence?
Companies and employees with cultural competence are knowledgeable of and interact effectively with people of different racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds. Culturally competent companies value diversity and demonstrate behaviors, attitudes, and policies that help them do business with diverse people. Employees who are culturally competent are knowledgeable of individuals from various backgrounds and effectively communicate and work in diverse teams and partnerships.
Companies with Cultural Competence
There are huge differences between companies that merely preach diversity and those that live and breathe it. Culturally competent companies value and integrate diversity and inclusion into their policies and everyday practices. These principles are established amongst the top (i.e., in the C-Suite) and are transferred to all levels of the organization through training and hiring employees with cultural competence. Diverse employees offer different cultural perspectives that are useful in achieving a variety of business objectives in areas like new product development and marketing. Does your company have cultural competence? Companies can learn from public health organizations and self-assess their own level of cultural competence.
Companies must understand culturally influenced consumer behaviors. Get to know customers’ cultures such as their values, traditions, history, and institutions through research. Culture can have a powerful influence on individuals’ experiences, how they relate to others, their perceptions, and the decisions they make. Culture impacts the way customers respond to products, services, and marketing campaigns. Companies that fully understand their customers know better ways to deliver and market culturally sensitive products and services.
Companies and employees with cultural competence thrive in the global economy. It’s crucial for companies to have diverse employees and a solid emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Companies and employees who fully understand the intricacies of their customers’ cultures are able to offer better products and services. Having a singular worldview in the workplace only hinders innovation and far-reaching influence. The world will only be more diverse in the future; cultural competence in business is the way forward.