It can be challenging to know how to create a more inclusive and diverse organizational culture. Today, we discuss the Intercultural Development Continuum™ and how it can serve as an inclusivity guide for individuals, teams and organizations.

We talk with Sidney Van Dyke, the director of health equity and language access at Regions Hospital. She goes over the five mindsets along the Intercultural Development Continuum and shares practical examples to bring it to life. Listen to the episode or read the transcript.

The Intercultural Development Continuum and why it matters

The Intercultural Development Continuum was adapted from Milton Bennett’s 1986 Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity. It helps build understanding of different cultures by looking at cultural variation. Instead of comparing a different culture to your own, it asks you to consider things like how cultures relate to time, how they relate to power and how they relate to relationship building. This model can be applied to racial, sexual orientation, religious and gender differences.

Working with this model can help individuals become more self-aware and interculturally competent – meaning that you’re able to shift your perspective and bridge the gap between cultures. It can also help organizations improve their cultural competence by adopting policies and practices that create more equitable outcomes.

The five mindsets within the Intercultural Development Continuum

There are five mindsets people work through along the Intercultural Development Continuum:

  • Denial – In the denial stage, people aren’t aware of cultural differences. This might be because they don’t interact with people from different cultural backgrounds or aren’t interested in cultural diversity.
  • Polarization – This mindset pairs an over-emphasis on cultural difference or identity with strong judgement. An example of polarization is an “us versus them” mentality.
  • Minimization – People with this mindset de-emphasize differences. This is the most common mindset: about 65% of people who assess where they are on the continuum fall into this stage.
  • Acceptance – Someone with this mindset understands cultural differences and how things like racism, misogyny or homophobia might affect others. But they don’t have the skills to act on improving inclusion and equity yet.
  • Adaptation – This is the final mindset where someone can recognize cultural differences, and they have the skills needed to work to bridge those gaps.

Listen to the episode to learn more about intercultural competence from Sidney Van Dyke.