Cultural Competence Continuum

Cultural Competence Continuum

Cultural competence represents the policies and practices of an organization, or the values and behaviors of an individual, which enable that agency or person to interact effectively in a culturally diverse environment. Cultural competence is reflected in the way an organization treats its employees, its clients, and its community.

Cultural competence is one of six points on a continuum that ranges from Cultural Destructiveness to Cultural Proficiency.

Click each point on the continuum to learn more. Click Next to continue.

Continuum with labels: Cultural Destructiveness, Cultural Incapacity, Cultural Blindness, Cultural Pre-Competence, Cultural Competence, and Cultural Proficiency
Cultural Destructiveness: See the difference, stomp it out. The most negative end of the continuum is represented by attitudes, policies, and practices that are destructive to cultures and consequently to the individuals within the culture.
Cultural Incapacity: See the difference, make it wrong. The system or the individuals in a culture are extremely biased, believe in the superiority of the dominant group, and assume a paternal posture toward the so-called "lesser" groups.  these systems or individuals are often characterized by ignorance and an unrealistic fear of people who are different from the dominant group.
Cultural Blindness: See the difference, act like you don't. The belief that color and culture make no difference and that all people are the same. Values and behaviors of the dominant culture are presumed to be universally applicable and beneficial.
Cultural Pre-Competence: See the difference, respond to it inappropriately. An awareness of limitations in cross-cultural communication and outreach. Individuals or organizations desire to provide fair and equitable treatment with appropriate cultural sensitivity without knowing exactly what is possible or how to proceed.
Cultural Competence: See the difference; understand the difference that difference makes. Acceptance and respect for difference, continuing self-assessment regarding culture, careful attention to the dynamics of difference, continuous expansion of cultural knowledge and resources, and a variety of adaptations to belief systems, policies, and practices that make it possible to be effective in many cultural contexts.
Cultural Proficiency: See the differences; respond positively and affirmingly in a variety of environments. Holding culture in high esteem. Seeking to add to the knowledge base of culturally competent practice by conducting research, developing new approaches based on culture, and formally and informally increasing the knowledge of others about culture and the dynamics of difference. Advocating for and championing culturally competent practices in all arenas.