Read the article, “Cultural Competence An Important Skill Set For The 21st Century”, Guzman, et.al, University of Nebraska, 2016. Discuss your idea of “equity” as it pertains to schools.  Include any biases you may have and how you would work to mitigate those biases with staff, students and families.G1375 · Index: Youth & Families, Families

Issued February 2016

Cultural Competence

An Important Skill Set for the 21st Century

Maria Rosario T. de Guzman, Extension Specialist in Adolescence
Tonia R. Durden, Extension Specialist in Early Childhood Education
Sarah A. Taylor, Graduate Research Assistant
Jackie M. Guzman, Extension Educator
Kathy L. Potthoff, Extension Educator

Displaying the cultural competency behaviors of active listening, empathy, and effective engagement can help us to create a welcoming environment and establish the appreciation of similarities and differences among cultures.

Cultural competence is the ability of a person to effectively interact, work, and develop meaningful relationships with people of various cultural backgrounds. Cultural background can include the beliefs, customs, and behaviors of people from various groups. Gaining cultural competence is a lifelong process of increasing self-awareness, developing social skills and behaviors around diversity, and gaining the ability to advocate for others. It goes beyond tolerance, which implies that one is simply willing to overlook differences. Instead, it includes recognizing and respecting diversity through our words and actions in all contexts.

Why Is Cultural Competence Important?

Demographic shifts and an increasingly diverse population

The United States has always had an ethnically diverse population, including African Americans, Native Americans, and Japanese Americans, to name a few. In recent years, our country has undergone dramatic shifts in its population, particularly as rapid migration has changed its landscape. For example, the Hispanic population in the U.S. rose from approximately 12.5 percent in 1990 to over 16 percent by 2009, and is anticipated to comprise 25 percent of the population by 2050. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2043, the U.S. will become a “majority minority” country. This means that although the non-Hispanic white population will still be the biggest group, a single group will no longer make up the majority. More than 50 percent of the population will identify as belonging to an ethnic minority group or any group other than non-Hispanic white.
In other words, although we have always lived in an ethnically diverse society, we are all operating in an increasingly culturally diverse environment where we need to be able to interact, communicate, build relationships, and work effectively with people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Moreover, those of us working with youth need to prepare them to operate in a society that will be even more diverse in terms of religion, ethnic background, and sexual orientation.

Societies are increasingly becoming globalized

Today’s world is diverse and global. Technology has made interactions across cultures around the world a very common experience. Social networking sites, blogs, and chat rooms are letting people regularly interact across national borders. Many indu




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