Welkin Projects

Embracing each other's differences


How can my organization become more culturally competent, diverse and inclusive.

There are seven essential strategies for promoting and sustaining organizational and systemic cultural competence, diversity and inclusion.

The cultural competence, diversity and inclusion of an organization is impacted by numerous, interactive, and dynamic client, provider, system, and broader societal factors. Therefore, the authors caution against the interpretation of the following strategies as “be all, end all” approaches for “achieving” cultural competence, diversity and inclusion. Rather, these strategies represent initial steps that organizations can employ as a means of becoming more self-reflective and committed to continually improving cultural competence, diversity and inclusion.

Strategy 1: Provide executive level support and accountability

Central tasks at this level:

  • Disseminate cultural competence standards and guidelines throughout the system.
  • Make a commitment to bring about increased cultural learning and skill development throughout the organization or system not as an “add on,” but as a central part of service delivery and system development.
  • Ensure policy and fiscal alignment at the executive level. For instance, ensure that cultural competence strategies and interventions are included within an organization’s overall budget.
  • Institute accountability strategies for ensuring multicultural change. For example, including cultural competence requirements in contracts and linking funding with progress in implementing benchmark areas can ensure that cultural competence becomes an organizational priority. 


Strategy 2: Foster client, community, and key stakeholder participation and partnerships.

Central tasks at this level:

  • Promote stakeholder participation and partnerships on advisory groups, workgroups, and program planning committees. Partnering with clients and other relevant stakeholders can serve the important function of ensuring that programs are developed with sensitive to the cultural needs and values of those seeking services
  • Hire peer and community members as staff. Hiring peer and community members as paid personnel can enhance the cultural competence of services.
  • Develop community relations and partnerships. These relationships can help to keep an organization connected to the community and its needs and strength areas, which in turn can lead to the development of creative approaches to service delivery or program development. 

Strategy 3: Conduct agency assessments to measure cultural competence diversity and inclusion

                     within the agency.

Central tasks at this level:

  • Conduct patient/client/customer satisfaction assessments.
  • The input of patients/clients/customers is a valuable strategy for identifying organizational strength and growth areas.
  • Conduct assessments of patient/client/customer outcome data based on demographic variables as a means of identifying cultural competence need areas. Conducting analyses of patient performance and outcome data based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religious preference, disability status, and other cultural factors is a key strategy for identifying potential cultural competence need areas.

Strategy 4: Develop incremental and realistic cultural competence action plans. 

Central tasks at this level:


  • Convene a workgroup comprised of executive level staff, clients, staff, community members, relevant stakeholders, etc. charged with developing and overseeing the implementation of the agency cultural competence action plan. Convening a group with diverse representation of staff, clients/customers, and community members can help to increase “buy-in” with regard to the importance of developing a cultural competence action plan.
  • Engage in strengths based on planning. Beginning with organizational strengths is important in that it creates immediate momentum as a result of starting with “low hanging fruit” and “easy wins.” Building on strengths helps to increase the likelihood of goal achievement and can demystify cultural competence through acknowledgement of existing strong points.
  • Select realistic goals. A strategy for evaluating capacity for implementation is to note whether or not a person or department exists within the agency or system who can assume responsibility for each goal.

Strategy 5: Ensure linguistic competence.

Central tasks at this level:


  • Post signs and disseminate information about the availability of trained interpreters, bilingual/bicultural staff, and other linguistic support services.
  • Translate satisfaction surveys and important documents in the languages of the populations served. 

Strategy 6: Diversify, develop, and retain a culturally competent workforce.

Central tasks at this level:

  • Develop formal recruitment strategies. Organizations are encouraged to develop formal recruitment strategies that include recruiting diverse staff at  college and universities, community centers, churches, and through newsletters and list-serves of national and ethnically-specific organizations.
  • Recruit community members, diverse paraprofessionals, peer mentors.
  • Institute ongoing cultural competence education and training for staff at all levels of the agency. Because enhancing cultural competence is an ongoing process, we suggest that training and continuing education be offered regularly and throughout all levels of the organization.

Strategy 7: Develop a system strategy for managing staff and client grievances.

Central tasks at this level:

  • Appoint an ombudsperson or persons to informally discuss grievances with staff and clients/customers as they arise.
  • Create a formal structure to address complaints that involve executive level staff.
  • Hire bilingual/bicultural staff to assist with the grievance reporting and resolution process.