The Board and staff of Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL) have participated in an Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) process. This was administered by DiversiPro, an organization that specializes in intercultural competence development. This involves some on line assessments followed by a group discussion, personal feedback, and individual action plans.
To accomplish TBPLs strategic directions, we believe a certain level of individual, group and organizational intercultural competence is required; this means developing the capability to shift cultural perspective and change behaviors when encountering cultural differences and commonalities. Organizations, groups and individuals who wish to become more inclusive and interculturally competent require greater awareness, new skills, knowledge and techniques.
We needed to understand how Board members, administration and staff at TBPL are collectively navigating cultural differences with each other and with stakeholders. It is also vitally important for everyone at TBPL to have a shared understanding of what key concepts such as decolonization, anti-racism, culture and intercultural competence mean and why we are undertaking this journey together.
The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) is a statistically reliable, crossculturally valid measure of intercultural competence. It has been used by not-for-profit agencies, corporations, post-secondary institutions and government agencies. IDI is used: to assess cross-cultural competencies for teams or individuals working in cross-cultural situations; to understand and identify developmental stages of clients or partners (such as AETS; to determine areas that facilitate, or limit, cross-cultural competence for groups or individuals; to increase self-awareness of intercultural competencies and encourage further development; and to establish a language and conceptual framework for discussing intercultural interactions.
The IDI is focused on developing intercultural competence. It is not anti-racism training although it does support our strategic directions to challenge institutional and systemic racism and to cultivate diversity and inclusion. Developing intercultural competence is a journey along a continuum from a Monocultural to an Intercultural mindset. The stages on this journey are denial, polarization, minimization, acceptance and adaptation. I am very pleased to report that TBPL is already quite advanced along this continuum and we are beyond the stages of denial and polarization. The Perceived Orientation (where we think we are) is Acceptance but our Developmental Orientation (where we actually are) is Minimization. This reflects a tendency to highlight commonalities across cultures that can mask important cultural differences in values, perceptions and behaviours. Our task now is to move towards Acceptance, which is an orientation that recognizes and appreciates patterns of cultural difference in one’s own and other cultures in values, perceptions and behaviours.
We will achieve this shift from Minimization to Acceptance by enabling staff to develop their intercultural competence via their individual action plans. We will also establish a Diversity and Inclusion Council to develop a strategy and action plan to develop the intercultural competence of TBPL.
John Pateman – www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below!