Updated: Jun 28
Here are six impactful tips that you can implement today to increase you and your company’s cultural competency.
How to Address
Growing up, I was never allowed to address my parent’s friends by their first name. It was always Mr. and Mrs. Smith or, if they were Indian, Uncle or Aunty. Since most of the world uses formality, it is best to address someone with their honorific title and allow them to give permission if they prefer to be called by their first name. Many Asian cultures, Latino cultures, and others adhere to formality, hierarchy, and status.
Can you imagine traveling to another country where all the written materials are in a different language that you do not understand? That can be frustrating. Remember: Not everyone speaks English proficiently so a translated marketing item or menu could be very helpful.
Now more than ever, we are working in a global setting that requires us to be mindful of various time zones in the world. Did you know that Russia spans over 11 time zones? Some companies have designated global working hours (for example 8 am – 11 am EST) where all employees globally must be accessible.
Some cultures are more transactional, where the business comes before the relationship (great examples are the U.S. or Germany). Other cultures are more centered on relationship-building where getting to know your customer is essential to do business (great examples here are India or Brazil). Which one are you?
International Holidays and Cultural Celebrations
Recognizing one’s holiday can have a positive impact on employee engagement. For example, Ramadan, the 30-day holiday celebrated by many Muslims around the world will end on May 2, 2022. During that time, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, so no working lunches during that time would be appreciated. We should also avoid scheduling meetings around sunset as that is the time Muslims break their fast with their family.
Educate the Staff
If we implement cultural competency during on-board training, the next generation (Gen Z) would be very appreciative. They are our future workforce and will lead with a global mindset. They represent 50% People of Color (in the U.S.) and are the most open-minded generation I have seen. I have yet to find a company that provides Cultural Competency training at the beginning of one’s career. Do you know of one?
You don’t need a lot of money to be culturally competent. You just need to be mindful. As a friend once told me, “Cultural competency is not a soft skill, it is a must skill.”
Small steps can lead to great strides.
Cultivating Your Understanding:
What is your favorite cultural competency tip?