What is cross cultural training?
The term "cross cultural training" refers to training courses that develop an awareness between people where a common cultural framework does not exist or is not recognized.
We are going to look at it in the context of creating a common cultural framework between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal People in Canada.
Cross-cultural training (CCT), which aims to develop the awareness, knowledge and skills needed to interact appropriately and effectively with Aboriginal People, should be considered an important element in every business plan. For all sizes of businesses, organisations and institutions cultural competence should be closely linked to mission statements, policies, organisational values and service delivery objectives.
Most commonly, CCT is provided by employers to employees so that they learn how to work effectively and respectfully with Aboriginal co-workers. A culturally aware worksite that is free of racism, resentment and cultural ignorance provides a safe, inclusive environment for Aboriginal workers; providing such a worksite allows them to live up to their potential as valuable employees. Aboriginal people are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population and represent a valuable source for workers, especially given the demographics of the country and the looming wave of retirees in the offing.
A good CCT program will include the history of Aboriginal Peoples pre and post contact with Europeans. It is through awareness of the impact of European contact on the thriving Aboriginal population and vibrant cultures that lays the groundwork for a comprehensive understanding of the issues and challenges that some Aboriginal people face today. A full spectrum program will also include information on current social and economic impacts on Aboriginal people.
Frequently, cross cultural course material is provided with the narrow focus of the worksite only and does not lend itself to reality outside the work environment. Truly effective CCT provides an understanding of Aboriginal culture that extends beyond the workplace and into society. It is not enough to provide guidance on how to relate to co-workers from nine to five - CCT should also provide guidance on how to relate to Aboriginal Peoples as members of the community at large.
Who in an organization should take CCT?
Now, we could be biased on this as we provide cross cultural training privately and publicly, but from our perspective this training should be made available to everyone in an organization. From the top brass right down through the ranks. The goal to create a worksite environment that is culturally aware should be systemic - there is not much point in providing the training to the managerial side of the business but not the front line workers - and vice versa.
If you are just beginning to look for a provider of CCT, here's an article on what to look for.
Here is a short video of the Vancouver Board of Trade Presentation to go with the slides. It will give you a sense of my personal delivery style of cross cultural training.
As always, I appreciate feedback so if you have any, please leave a comment below.