Cultural Competence and Humility in the Workplace

Addressing Racism and Building Equitable Workplaces

Becoming culturally competent and practicing cultural humility are fundamental to addressing racism and building equitable workplaces. Cultural competence involves being able to effectively interact with people of different cultures, through a knowledge and appreciation of cultural differences (Project READY; Humiston 2022). It encompasses awareness of one’s own world view, building positive attitudes towards cultural differences, acquiring knowledge of different cultural practices and world views, and developing communication skills across cultures.


The pursuit of cultural competence provides the foundation for Cultural Humility which involves a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique, a desire to fix power imbalances, (Cooks-Campbell 2022), and institutional accountability with organizations modelling these principles.2 It is common for organizations to promote cultural competence through trainings and other opportunities of acquiring knowledge and skills to work with people from diverse backgrounds. However, it is imperative that organizations go beyond building cultural competence in the workplace to promoting a culture with cultural humility at its core.


According to Cooks-Campbell, organizations that go beyond fostering cultural competence to a commitment to developing cultural humility in the work-place experience:

  • An increased sense of belonging
  • Improved psychological safety
  • Smoother collaboration and teamwork
  • Higher employee well-being and mental health
  • Better communication
  • Reduced interpersonal conflict

Below are a few ways that organizations can begin to promote cultural humility.

  • Creating opportunities for teams and employees to get to know each other
  • Normalizing not knowing and promoting an openness to learning from the community and their lived experience
  • Engaging in open and crucial conversations

As individuals, we must also play an active role in developing cultural competence and humility. Completing the checklist and chart in the links below is a good place to start.

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