Cultural awareness

Cultural awareness

What is Cultural competence?

'Cultural competencies' refers to knowledge, skills and attitudes that form your ability to get along with, work and learn with people from diverse cultures (adapted from “Intercultural competencies” by the Higher Education Academy  2014).   Other terms for this include 'intercultural competence' and we are also talking here about awareness of diversity and developing the skills, knowledge and awareness to support and develop inclusive work and life cultures that are culturally competent for all people from all backgrounds and protected characteristics.

The Equality Act 2010 has the following nine "protected characteristics"

Protected characteristics

For definitions of these characteristics see https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/equality-act/protected-characteristics.

For information on how being part of a particular groups relates to graduate employment see the TARGETjobs website where specialists from AGCAS (Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services) provide their advice on key diversity issues including gender, race and disability. You'll find out how to identify diversity positive employers, decide how and whether to disclose your circumstances, and get an understanding of your rights.

What is culture?

“Culture is a word for people's 'way of life', meaning the way groups do things. Different groups of people may have different cultures.”

How does this relate to employability? 
Why is this important to organisations?

The British Council carried out research among 376 employers in 9 different countries to discover why cultural competence is important to them and to identify the skills and attitudes they believe are involved - watch their short video.

How do employers define intercultural skills?

Click here to look at the infographic mentioned in the video again.

Exercise: Think of a time when you became aware of a culture different to your own in some way and select one or two of the skills and aptitudes mentioned. Think about how you demonstrated these skills and about how you may use them in future in the work place to support and help create a culturally competent working environment.  Outline this in a 250 word reflection. 

For information on how being part of a particular groups relates to graduate employment see https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/equality-and-diversity where specialists from AGCAS (Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services) provide their advice on key diversity issues including gender, race and disability. You'll find out how to identify diversity positive employers, decide how and whether to disclose your circumstances, and get an understanding of your rights.

Unconscious bias

Your background, personal experiences, societal stereotypes and cultural context can have an impact on your decisions and actions without you realising. As the Equality Challenge Unit say:

“….unconscious bias happens by our brains making incredibly quick judgments and assessments of people and situations without us realising. ….We may not even be aware of these views and opinions, or be aware of their full impact and implications.”

You can assess your own unconscious bias in relation to a range of issues here (and contribute to research) here:  https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html.

Exercise:  Choose one questionnaire to complete.  In 250 words reflect on:

  • Which test you took and why.  
  • What you learnt about your unconscious bias in relation to the topic
  • What you may do as a result of this?


What happens at Swansea University?

Swansea University aims to provide a working and learning environment which is free from discrimination and will enable staff and students to fulfil their personal potential. The Equality team lead a number of Equality initiatives that benefit students and staff; these include the Race Equality Charter Mark, Athena SWAN and Stonewall's Workplace Equality Index. See www.swansea.ac.uk/personnel/equal-opportunities/.

The Students’ Union has a full-time Welfare Officer and several part-time Welfare Officers who support and champion the rights of various groups. See www.swansea-union.co.uk/voice/officers.

Interested?  Optional next steps

If you would like to develop your cultural competence and gain experience you can use to evidence the relevant competencies and knowledge you could:

Resources / Further reading

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