Stereotyping leads to social injustice, poor health outcomes, and less effective organizations.
All of us have automatic thoughts and feelings about one another based on race, ethnicity, accents, religion, gender, age, socio-economic level, sexual orientation, physical presentation (body type, clothing, tattoos, etc.) and other characteristics. These automatic thoughts and feelings are often due to stereotypes we learned as children – something our mothers told us about “those people” or something we saw in the movies, or an experience we had with someone. As human beings, we tend to think that “Those people are all the same.” This attitude affects how we treat each other in healthcare, business, school, the criminal justice system, and society as a whole. Cultural Competence begins with recognizing that stereotypes are true of some people in a group and not true of others in that group. Each person is unique.
How do culture and language affect health and social services?
- Providers may not recognize their unconscious prejudices – but clients sense how providers feel about them.
- Patients who don’t understand or trust their providers don’t adhere to medical advice.
- Providers are influenced by stereotypes when making a diagnosis and developing a treatment plan.
- Untrained language interpreters make dangerous errors that lead to inaccurate medical histories, misdiagnoses, harmful drug interactions, and mistakes in following treatment plans.
- The advice of health and social service providers may conflict with the client’s cultural beliefs and practices.
How does cultural competence strengthen organizations?
- Organizations are more effective when employees trust one another.
- Customers buy products and use the services of businesses that make them feel valued and respected.
What is a culturally competent community?
In a culturally competent community, residents of all cultural backgrounds live, work, and play together – and they treat each other as individuals rather than as stereotypes.
What does the Center for Cultural Competence do?
The Center for Cultural Competence, Inc. improves communication and trust among people of diverse backgrounds so that:
- health and social service providers are more effective with patients and clients
- organizations welcome diversity
- community residents live, work, and play together in the spirit of mutual respect and tolerance.