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21 Cultural Competencies
for the 21st Century

by Jose J. Soto, J.D.
Lincoln, Nebraska

The rapid pace of change in technology, society and demographics require that we re-examine the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to survive and succeed in the 21st century. Following are 21 competencies that will facilitate and enhance your personal and professional involvement within the context of multicultural and diverse settings.

1. Develop and embrace a personal ethic of social responsibility and service within communities that are racially/culturally/ethnically/linguistically different that your own.

2. Ensure that you exhibit ethical behavior in all activities, personal and professional, which involve individuals of diverse backgrounds.

3. Expand your knowledge base to ensure that your professional services and interpersonal interactions are competent and effective within the context of racial, cultural, ethnic, and linguistic differences.

4. Value and incorporate the determinants of multiple world-views and culture/race/ethnicity/language in planning, developing and providing services and programs.

5. Seek out and apply the knowledge of the new sciences, technology, and social/demographic trends.

6. Ensure that your critical thinking, reflection, and problem-solving skills incorporate culture, race, ethnicity and language as fundamental considerations.

7. Understand the changing and emerging roles and responsibilities of primary and secondary social institutions, and how these changes may differentially impact diverse communities.

8. Promote and support primary prevention and education as tools to improve the well being of individuals and communities.

9. Integrate population-based services and approaches into the practice of your profession and discipline.

10. Improve access to services and benefits for those individuals and populations with unmet needs.

11. Practice culturally-appropriate, relationship-centered involvement with the individuals and families you serve.

12. Provide culturally-appropriate and competent services, programs, and interventions that met the needs of the cultural/racial/ethnic/linguistic diversity in your community.

13. Partner with the diverse communities and individuals affected by your decisions.

14. Develop and use communication and information technology that effectively and appropriately delivers information to individuals and communities of diverse racial/ethnic/cultural/linguistic backgrounds.

15. Learn to work comfortably as a member of teams that cross interdisciplinary lines, and are representative of diverse ways of thinking, being and doing.

16. Ensure that your decisions and services balance individual, professional, system and societal needs.

17. Exercise leadership that models diversity inclusion, representation and shared decision-making.

18. Take personal responsibility for the quality of services, outcomes, and cultural competence at all levels.

19. Contribute to continuous improvement of your cultural competence at the personal and professional levels, and throughout the system(s) within which you operate.

20. Advocate for public policies that promote and support culturally competent services, and the inclusion, representation and participation of individuals who reflect the increasing cultural/ethnic/racial/linguistic diversity of our communities.

21. Commit to being a life-long learner, and to helping others learn about the value and dynamics difference.

Jose J. Soto, J.D. is Vice President for AA/Equity/Diversity Southeast Community College Area, Lincoln, Nebraska

Published in In Motion Magazine April 22, 2001.

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