Cultural competency refers to a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes and policies that enables human service organizations to work effectively with various racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic groups. It is compatible with the fundamental principles of respect, equality and diversity that Canada has long embraced. As Canadian society continues to transform into a tapestry of colors, customs, languages, accents, beliefs, values and talents, human service organizations need to view cultural competency not as an add-on option, but rather as an integrated core business requirement for effective practices.
In the past two decades, there have been many celebrated efforts among non-profit and government agencies to promote inclusiveness in human services. Still, the challenge of providing culturally responsive services to all Canadians remains persistent. People from various racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds continue to express their concerns of having limited access to culturally relevant services. Funding bodies face ongoing struggles to establish clear funding assessment criteria to promote equitable services. Agencies search for more innovative ways to deliver services that are responsive to cultural diversity in Canada.
In response to this reality, Cultural Competency-A Self-Assessment Guide For Human Service Organizations presents a cultural diversity lens through which human service organizations may come to understand cultural competency, to reflect upon their structures, policies and procedures, and to plan and implement culturally competent practices. Though cultural diversity is defined here as differences in race, ethnicity, language, nationality or religion, many change strategies outlined in this guide are transferable to other areas of diversity management including gender, ability, class and sexual orientation.