Diversity In The Workplace – What’s Your Cultural IQ?


Have you ever watched a TV show called Outsourced?  The company of an American man is outsourced to India and he moves there to train the employees. Without having any knowledge of India and the culture, he faces insurmountable problems at work.

One of these problems? He got reported for sexual harassment by tapping one of his female employees on the shoulder. In India, it is considered taboo for a man to touch a female in a professional setting.

Outsourced is a very funny show, but it also presents some very real issues that many of us face in the workplace.  As more and more companies operate their businesses overseas, international business travel becomes more frequent, and study abroad programs are now the ‘norm’, it is no longer unusual to see more diversity in the workplace and cultural sensitivity is becoming an important issue in the office.

Did you know that in…

  • China: Drinking alcohol is an important part of building relationship in business. Refusing to drink is considered very impolite.
  • Africa: Touching others with the left hand is a definite ‘no’.  Only use your right hand when making contact.
  • Brazil: Make business appointments at least two weeks ahead. A last minute call is not acceptable.
  • France: Punctuality is not considered to be important value in business.
  • Canada:Punctuality is considered to be extremely important in business. Make sure to be on time.


For more insights into different cultures and customs visit this article on CNN.com.


Mari Tanaka is Marketing Coordinator at NEXT for Women. She is originally from Japan and moved to the United States in 2009 for school. She loves learning and gaining new experience, and meeting new people!

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