Another Aspect of Diversity: Cross-Cultural Awareness

When I recently wrote about diversity, I thought about the definition of diversity. I wondered to what extent the popular buzzword “diversity” is just a less controversial expression for “affirmative action,” versus one truly expressing different concepts, mindsets, and practices.

One significant difference between the two occurs when a company’s diversity initatives address diversity in business practices, not just achievement of workforce diversity. One aspect of this is cross-cultural awareness, something Michael specializes in (perhaps this will stimulate him to provide further information along these lines, hint, hint).

I ran across a very useful link on this subject in a recent post by a delightful, energetic, and successful St. Louis blogger I met at BlawgThink — Michelle Golden, president of Golden Marketing Inc.

Michelle’s post, “Doing Business Abroad: Need-to-Know Etiquette,” rightly observes that “cultural understanding can be the difference between success or failure in a business dealing.” She gives some examples of typical issues, and links to “a great resource for cultural tips including do’s, don’ts and even appropriate attire.” The linked site bills itself as “The Web’s leading resource for
International Business Etiquette and Manners.”

With increased workforce diversity and globalization of business, these are very timely issues, and this site is a must-read before an overseas business trip.

To get a taste of its contents, I thought I’d check out France. The tips I found included:

  • French businessmen do not loosen their ties or take off their jackets in the office.
  • Women should dress conservatively. Avoiding bright or gaudy colors is recommended.
  • Punctuality is treated very casually in France.
  • The French have a great respect for privacy. Knock and wait before entering into a room. Additionally, do not “drop in” unannounced. Always give notice before your arrival.
  • If you do not speak French, it is very important that you apologize for your lack of knowledge.
  • Most individuals in business speak English.
  • The French frequently interrupt each other, as the argument is a form of entertainment. [I didn't know I was French; this sounds like me!]

While you’re at Michelle’s blog, Golden Practices, check out: “Effective Communications: 5 Tips for Writing in the 2000’s.” Well-formatted, short, and to-the-point, this post well illustrates its content.

For additional current information on labor & employment law, human resources, and other work-related topics, don’t forget to visit our “Recent Reading” page, a blog-within-a-blog.

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