This article first appeared on Accdocket.com on 17 January 2022.
“I don’t think they are interested,” a young manager seated next to me at a recent conference observed after discussing challenges in increasing Latino representation at senior management ranks. “I’ve had three job postings up and none have applied.”
At the same conference, I learned about the experiences of two young lawyers, both of them first-generation immigrants. Though hailing from opposite ends of the earth (Nigeria and Thailand), they both bemoaned the criticism they had received when planning two-week-long vacations back home. Questions about their reliability and commitment to their jobs arose.
When I returned to the office, I was chatting with a coworker who was griping about a very vocal colleague who stuck up for her team during a performance rating calibration meeting. “She was so aggressive,” my coworker said. “She’s an angry Black woman.”
These conversations underscore the importance of understanding cultural differences and how misunderstandings can play out in the workplace in harmful ways.
What is culture?
According to Geert Hofstede, a Dutch social psychologist whose work includes groundbreaking theories on culture and cultural dimension, culture is “the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from others.”
According to Hofstede, differences between national cultures can be measured on six axes, with each culture receiving a score between one and 100 on each axis. This is known as the six dimensions model of national culture.
Subsequent scholars then divided the world into geographic areas, or “country clusters” and identified which attributes are predominant in each area. For example, “Anglo” is one cultural area, comprising of Great Britain, Canada, the United States, and Australia. Arab, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Confucian Asia are some other examples of country clusters.
Subsequent scholars have increased the number of axes to 10 and expanded the use of this tool to cross-cultural interactions within a nation and to consider diversity within cultures.
While there are various iterations of this scale, below is a summary of the dimensions of culture (oversimplified for purposes of brevity) drawn from Hofstede and the work of The Cultural Intelligence Center. […]
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The Cultural Intelligence Center is proud to support organizations, such as Toyota Motor North America, that are committed to utilizing CQ to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workplaces, ultimately helping in making the world a better place.
This article was developed with input from the CQ Center’s Chairperson, CEO & President Linn Van Dyne, and Corporate Lead Consultant & Facilitator Tina Merry.
About the Cultural Intelligence Center
The Cultural Intelligence Center is an innovative, research-based training and consulting firm that draws upon empirical findings to help organizations and individuals around the world assess and improve cultural intelligence (CQ)- the ability to work effectively with people from different nationalities, ethnicities, age groups, and more. We provide you with innovative solutions that improve multicultural performance based on rigorous academic research. More information about the Cultural Intelligence Center can be found on our website.