Diversity at AIR: Cultural and Linguistic Competence

Respect for and responsiveness to diverse cultural and linguistic needs is inherent in successful workplace interactions, product development, and service delivery. For AIR, it’s equally foundational to the development and implementation of our research and technical assistance.

It is essential that our interactions with clients, research participants, partners, and the communities we serve—and, equally important, our collaborations with one another—reflect respect and consideration for differences in languages and cultural perspectives.

Cultural and linguistic competence provides the structured guidance necessary to support all members of AIR’s staff in their ongoing investment to become more conscious and intentionally respectful of diverse needs and expectations that are rooted in language and culture.

Cultural and linguistic competence further supports AIR’s mission-driven work by ensuring that everyone on our team is invested in AIR’s reputation as a behavioral and social science research leader, our growth, and our ability to respond effectively to emerging global needs.

The cultural and linguistic competence that is integral to our workplace is equally a foundation of the scholarship and world view that AIR teams bring to the needs of global clients, communities, and audiences. As such, it is a pillar not only of our workplace, but of the caliber of scholarship that we deliver.

Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Standards for Projects, Research, and Operations (CLAS PRO)

Cultural and linguistic competence is essential for AIR to design and deliver effective research and technical assistance that are responsive to the diverse cultural beliefs, practices, and communication needs of the communities we serve. Although AIR’s mission and values reflect this, it is not always clear how to integrate cultural and linguistic competence most effectively into everyday practice.

We created AIR’s proprietary Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Standards for Projects, Research, and Operations (CLAS PRO), a measurable set of standards to formalize our process for infusing cultural and linguistic competence within practices and projects. A dedicated AIR CLAS PRO Workgroup developed the CLAS PRO standards to distill and systematize the most relevant and important standards for all aspects of our work. We know that adopting these standards requires intentionality, effort, practice, and support, but expect that they add value to our work.

Our goals in creating the CLAS PRO standards included:

  • Developing the knowledge base, skills, and dispositions necessary to best address the needs of the diverse clients and communities we serve;
  • Promoting effective and equitable services and products that are responsive to the diverse cultural beliefs, practices, and communication needs of these communities to ensure that AIR’s impact achieves the desired outcomes; and
  • Enhancing our work and raising awareness of the relevance of cultural and linguistic competence throughout our workplace environment.

In keeping with AIR’s recognition that continued measurement is the foundation of ongoing improvement, the Workgroup created a proprietary CLC Assessment Tool. This resource is available to team leaders and staff as a support for identifying strengths, as well as opportunities for improved performance. Project teams across AIR’s divisions use it to identify priorities in all project phases to measure and track progress and growth. The tool enhances services that advance CLC and AIR’s capacity for growth. Its impact extends across functions, products and services, and operations.

By formalizing these standards and engaging in ongoing training and coaching in their application, we enhance our ability to conduct all of AIR’s work—internally and externally— with the appropriate understanding of and consideration for the diverse cultures and languages that comprise our workforce, our clients, our research participants, and the communities we serve.