Understanding Intercultural Sensitivity
Why you need to go out, India is a country with “Diversity in Culture”. This diversity is the result of the coexistence of a number of religions as well as local traditions.
The beautiful temples of south India, easily identifiable by their ornately sculptured surface, in the desert of Kutch, Gujarat, on the other hand, the local folk pit themselves against the awesome forces of nature, in the extreme north is the high altitude desert of Ladakh, Local culture is visibly shaped by the faith – Buddhism – as well as by the harsh terrain.
With over one billion citizens, India is the second most populous nation in the world. It is impossible to speak of any one Indian culture, although there are deep cultural continuities that tie its people together.
Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity
How can we help employees in our organizations succeed in an increasingly complex workplace? Our function is to clarify what cultural competence is and why it is needed, and to help employees enhance understanding of their own culture, and increase their intercultural sensitivity and competence.
In 1986, Bennett created the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, which shows a progression of stages people may go through in developing intercultural competency. Since then, he has partnered with Dr. Mitch Hammer of American University to develop the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). (The inventory is a set of statements that allows an individual to assess his/her developmental stage of intercultural sensitivity according to the DMIS. This tool is valuable because it measures people’s ability to experience difference in relatively complex ways).
Why there is Resistance…Tool to understand resistance
Development of intercultural competence does not come without a struggle; some employees will protest these efforts. Bennett’s model helps us understand that the basic form of resistance is a defense response. People who respond to diversity efforts in this way are often moving from the model’s first stage of intercultural sensitivity, denial (a failure to recognize that cultural differences exist) into the second stage, defense (recognition of differences). Often, people at this stage may express concern about reverse discrimination. “Recognition of the fact that differences do exist carries a threat,” he says. The reaction is to defend one’s self. Bennett recommends listening carefully to the person’s fears and to help them understand how the organization will continue to extend opportunities to this person’s cultural group, even as efforts expand to include other cultural groups.
How to address backlash
Bennett recommends several approaches to addressing backlash:
· Cultural Self-Awareness: Help employees develop cultural awareness, including (if applicable) identification of European American ethnicity versus stopping at a more specific cultural self-awareness (such as Italian or Irish).
· Recognition of Cultural Capital: Prepare employees to deal with issues of privilege in a non-threatening way. Help them to identify their own cultural capital (what it means to belong to their own group and how that translates into institutional privilege).