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Center for Culture and Diversity
The Center for Culture and Diversity (CCD), a division of the Institute for Human Services, was founded in 1998 to promote the development of personal, interpersonal, and organizational cultural competence. CCD helps individuals, and the organizations in which they work, develop and refine the capacity to relate to people from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds in a sensitive, mutually respectful, and collaborative manner.
Through a variety of training, consultation, program evaluation, and facilitation activities, CCD helps organizations and their staff in a variety of ways, which include:

To help employees develop understanding of concepts of culture and diversity, and how these apply to their day-to-day work;

To help employees understand how their own cultural backgrounds affects their values, feelings, and actions, and their perceptions of and responses to other people;

To help employees recognize how lack of awareness, differences in communication styles, and misinterpretation of cultural cues can create interpersonal conflict, preventing thoughtful dialogue and resolution of cultural issues;

To help employees recognize the strengths and limitations of all cultures, including their own;

To teach employees strategies that promote cultural understanding and cultural competence in the work place.

What Makes CCD's Approach Unique?

There are many sources for culture and diversity training and consultation. Perhaps you or your colleagues have participated in some of these programs, and were not completely satisfied with the results. CCD's approach to cultural education is unique in a variety of ways.

First: Understanding the Dynamics of Culture
A majority of training programs focus on learning about others... usually presenting the traits and characteristics of a particular, often minority, ethnic, cultural, or racial group. This approach can actually promote stereotyping, and, by itself, fails to prepare people to function effectively in cross-cultural environments. It is virtually impossible to understand every nuance of every culture. Culturally competent people understand the dynamics of cross cultural interactions, and can "think culturally" in diverse situations. General information about cultures can then be acquired and used within an appropriate context, rather than as a rigid stereotype.

Second: The "Safe Environment"
A safe and open learning environment promotes thinking, questioning, dialogue, and an opportunity to test out and correct one's own beliefs and presumptions. Our goal is to challenge each other to think; to examine our own beliefs, biases, and misconceptions; and to develop a more accurate understanding of culture and its dynamics. Mistakes, misperceptions, and cultural errors are not only expected, but accepted as a normal and natural part of the learning experience. CCD trainers and consultants create and maintain this safe environment throughout the initiative.

Third: Facilitated Dialogue and Problem Solving
In a dialogue, people explore ideas, opinions, and assumptions to reach a higher level of understanding. Effective dialogue allows participants to identify and deal with interpersonal and organizational cultural dynamics without feeling threatened. The enhanced understanding derived from dialogue frees people to craft mutually-agreeable solutions.

CCD's Services
CCD works with staff and managers to plan, implement, and evaluate an organization's culture and diversity initiatives. A leadership team is generally formed and given responsibility to design, guide, and monitor the initiative. This team is trained and facilitated by CCD staff.

Organizational Assessment
CCD works in partnership with intact work teams, leadership groups, and managers to identify and assess organizational strengths and limitations related to diversity; and, to identify how cultural dynamics impact the functioning of the work force, and the effectiveness of services. This information is used to identify objectives and activities for the change initiative.

Facilitated Strategic Planning
CCD helps organizations design and implement strategic plans to improve organizational cultural competence. Sustained follow-through and consistent support from CCD consultants helps assure that the plan will actually be implemented, and productive changes will be maintained over time.

The Institute for Human Services, the organizational home of CCD, is recognized throughout North America for its sophisticated approach to competency-based inservice training. The principles of the IHS CCBIT system, including a Universe of Competencies, individualized training needs assessment, focused training that addresses both group and individual needs, the highest standards of trainer excellence, and strategies to promote transfer of learning, all of which are incorporated into CCD's culture and diversity training.

A multi-cultural team of trainers leads all CCD training initiatives. The trainers model effective cross-cultural communication, provide trainees ample opportunity for small group dialogue, and facilitate dialogue in areas of conflict or disagreement.

A variety of training approaches are possible, depending upon the organization's unique needs and budget.

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