Need for Cultural Competence
At its essence, cultural competence refers to an individual and or organization's ability to successfully interact with others from different cultures for a "win-win" experience.  Note: The emphasis on win-win, cultural competence should never be used to advantage one party over another.

Hawai‘i is recognized as the great cultural "melting pot".  However, a more accurate analogy may be "patchwork quilt".  Yes there are tremendous sharing and blending of cultures in Hawai‘i, however, each culture remains largely intact and unique.  Hawai‘i also enjoys the distinction of being one of the great visitor destinations of the world welcoming guests from multiple cultures.  Whether dealing with guests, customers, or employees, Hawai‘i’s organizations operate in one of the most culturally diverse environments in the world.  As such, cultural competence is a critical component for any organization doing business in Hawai‘i.

Generally, cultural competence requires organizations to overcome fear and discomfort and become effective in four areas:

  • Knowledge:  Factual information that replaces stereotype and generalizations about people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

  •  Understanding:  Awareness and comprehension that people will sometimes see things differently then we do because of their cultural viewpoint.

  • Acceptance:  Tolerance and respect that allows others the same freedom of behavior and style that we expect for ourselves.

  •  Behavior:  Ability to interact effectively with others different from ourselves.

Developing cultural competence takes time and effort, but is a worthwhile investment towards an organization’s viability.  For example, organizations in the hospitality industry (food and beverage, accommodations, travel and transportation) that are culturally competent will experience enhanced customer satisfaction, good word of mouth, increased sales, more repeat business, and a healthier bottom line.  Likewise, cultural competence in the work place will result in greater employee satisfaction, improved productivity, reduced sick days, greater retention, and a healthier bottom line. 

Organizational cultural competence is a developmental process that evolves or devolves over time and requires regular monitoring and ongoing attention.  Cultural competence is non-threatening and positive because it acknowledges and validates who people are.  Kūkulu can help develop, monitor, maintain, and enhance your organization’s cultural competence with unlimited benefits for every level of your organization.


Cultural Competence = Better Business