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Suspending Judgment: A Key to Being Culturally Competent . Presented by Tinisha L. Agramonte Director, Outreach and Retention Office of Diversity and Inclusion U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. WORKSHOP OBJECTIVES

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suspending judgment a key to being culturally competent

Suspending Judgment: A Key to Being Culturally Competent

Presented by

Tinisha L. Agramonte

Director, Outreach and Retention

Office of Diversity and Inclusion

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs



    • Briefly explore the concepts and definitions of culture and cultural competency
    • Briefly discuss the benefits of a culturally competent organization (effective Diversity Management)
    • Identify personal biases and judgments
    • Discuss and Practice strategies to suspend judgment
    • Increase participants’ ability to effectively communicate across cultural lines
    • You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know!
    • Lecture, small group discussions, and role plays
  • What is Culture?

Definition: the sum total of the way of living; includes values, beliefs, standards, language, thinking patterns, behavioral norms, communications styles, etc. Guides decisions and actions of a group through time.

cultural competency
Cultural Competency

Cultural Competence Definition

A set of congruent behaviors, practices, attitudes and policies that come together in a system or agency or among professionals, enabling effective work to be done in cross-cultural situations

guiding diversity management principle

The shifting demographics in this country require VA’s employees to be CULTURALLY COMPETENTto effectively accomplish its mission and to realize its vision


Department of Veterans Affairs’ Mission—To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise – “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” – by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.

What changes has the VA seen w/regards to its veteran demographic population?

What is required/ will be required as a result of the changing demographics?

diversity data
Diversity Data


By 2050, Latino and Asian populations will double, and the Black population will grow by 71%.

The US will attract 1 million immigrants a year, most of Latino or Asian origin.

By 2030, 1 in 4 US residents will be Latino or Asian.

cultural competence effective diversity management mission accomplishment the connection benefits
Cultural Competence, Effective Diversity Management, Mission Accomplishment—The Connection & Benefits

Diversity Management

Goes beyond legalistic and moral approaches to EEO to develop a workplace that allows all employees to perform at their individual best

Focuses on mission effectiveness—removing attitudinal, physical, and/or institutional barriers, with regards to diversity, that compromise the organization’s ability to meet its mission.

Employs tactics to leverage strengths, talents, competencies, etc.

The issue sold out in the US and UK in 72 hours, and was immediately rushed to reprint 30,000 extra copies for American newsstands, another 10,000 for Britain and 20,000 more in Italy. I guess black models can sell magazines after all, right?
  • African-American women shell out 80 percent more money on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care products than the general market.
va mission and diversity management
VA Mission and Diversity Management

How are they related?

VA’s Diversity Management program is committed to building a workplace collaboration of cultures to enhance the support provided to veterans.

Differences in experience, education, geography, language and perspective are treated as value-added contributions rather than distractions.

Diversity programs may include outreach to the community and affinity groups to find how better to serve veterans of various demographics and how better to find qualified employment candidates and address a wide range of employee workplace concerns and workforce trends.

murphy brown time
Murphy Brown Time

Who Is the Norm?


diversity dimensions
Diversity Dimensions

Digital Competence








Military Experience


Ethnic Heritage

Parental Status

Work Experience



Marital Status

Mental Abilities

Physical Abilities

Geographic Location

Work Styles






socialization who and what established your ruler
Socialization—Who and what established your ruler???
  • All encompassing educational process through which Values, Goals, Beliefs, Attitudes, and Gender roles are acquired
  • Primary method of learning culture; That framework of shared designs for living—determines boundaries around what is right/wrong, good/bad, etc.
our perception is based on
Our Perception is Based On:
  • Life experiences (Pleasure vs. Pain)
  • Parental Influence
  • Peer-group influence
  • Media influence
  • Education vs. Socialization
the cultural competence continuum
The Cultural Competence Continuum
  • Where Am I Now?
  • Where Could I Be?
the cultural competence continuum1
The Cultural Competence Continuum


Cultural Proficiency

Cultural Competence

Cultural Precompetence

Cultural Blindness


Cultural Incapacity

Cultural Destructiveness

cultural competence definitions
Cultural Competence Definitions
  • Cultural Destructiveness: forced assimilation, subjugation, rights and privileges for dominant groups only
  • Cultural Incapacity: racism, maintain stereotypes, unfair hiring practices
  • Cultural Blindness: differences ignored, “treat everyone the same”, only meet needs of dominant groups
cultural competence definitions cont
Cultural Competence Definitions, cont.

Cultural Pre-competence: explore cultural issues, are committed, assess needs of organization and individuals

Cultural Competence: recognize individual and cultural differences, seek advice from diverse groups, hire culturally unbiased staff

Cultural Proficiency: implement changes to improve services based upon cultural needs, do research and teach

when cultural incompetence occurs
When Cultural Incompetence Occurs…
  • Conflicts arise, leading to —
    • Discrimination allegations/Grievances
    • Low morale, productivity, tense working relationships
    • Mishaps, terminations, resignations, retention issues
    • Bullying or workplace violence
    • Ineffective mission accomplishment (honoring veterans as heroes by providing outstanding care)
benefits of workforce diversity inclusion cultural competence effective diversity mgt
Benefits of Workforce Diversity & Inclusion(Cultural Competence, Effective Diversity Mgt)
  • Improved understanding of those you work for, with, and around.
  • Creates a work environment that allows everyone to reach their full potential.
  • Provides multiple perspectives on problem solving.
  • Better performance outcomes.
  • Increases employee productivity.
  • Increased retention rates.
  • Boosts employee morale.
  • Improved customer relations.
  • Reduces complaints and grievances.
  • It’s the right thing to do!
acquiring cultural competence
Acquiring Cultural Competence
  • Starts with Awareness
  • Grows with Knowledge
  • Enhanced with Specific Skills
  • Polished through Cross-Cultural Encounters
to suspend judgment one must
To Suspend Judgment One Must:
  • Seek first to understand before being understood
  • Observe and Actively listen without judging-remember listening does not equate to agreeing
  • Be willing to allow people to feel what they feel
  • Be willing to commit to future actions—way ahead
office of diversity and inclusion
Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Tinisha Agramonte

Director, Outreach and Retention