Cultural Differences in Professional Setting

It is not unusual to find that culture is universal. According to Daniel Workman (2008), American, Australian, British, German, and Swedish communicators generally assume that their communication style is universally accepted. Likewise, they also believe that such is the case in the way they usually understand a message. This, according to Workman, implies that highly universalistic cultures believe that “their ideas and practices” can be applied everywhere without modification.” However, effective communication and interaction in business require professionals to be mindful of other people’s culture.

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April Taggart (2007) notes that the presence of immigrants from different parts of the world is changing the way most companies, big and small, carry out their business as is the case of Canada. Taggart explains that there is a need for a multi-cultural approach not only to its employees but also to its customers. According to her, the shift in demographics in the workplace tends to impact how business is conducted. By way of example, Taggart said “it is very important that our account managers know about Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Light so they don’t make cold marketing calls at inappropriate times to clients who observe these traditions.” Moreover, Taggart believes that the ability to respond to diversity, to be culturally competent fosters “fostering effective and productive working relationships in cross-cultural situations.”

In similar fashion, with the strong presence of women in the workplace, gender bias in business is also a concern. According to Kelly, Young, and Clark (1993), gender bias is “generally rooted in culturally-based prescriptions of acceptable gender behavior.” And although there have been dramatic changes culturally and socially in the past two decades challenging the traditional gender prescriptions, they noted that “years of socialization have left many managers and employees, consciously or unconsciously, clinging to sex stereotypes based on outmoded attitudes.”

As the saying goes, ‘two heads are better than one’ so teams working together can find solutions better than a person working alone. Collective wisdom is important in business and as such, given the diversity in the workforce, professionals are required to be adaptable and willing to evaluate the way they conduct business. According to the diversity has a direct impact on the marketplace, talent, and organizational effectiveness.

Moreover, according to them, when companies value diversity and effectively manage it, they can build better relationships, improve decision-making, stimulate effective team building, expand the ability to change problems into opportunities, provide employees with skills that promote organizational effectiveness, increase employee initiative, camaraderie and morale, and reduce conflict among many other benefits. In today’s economy, successful organizations “recognize that managing diversity is an opportunity to increase productivity and create effective business strategies.” (Anti-Defamation League, 2003).


Anti-Defamation League. (2003). The Business Case for Diversity. Retrieved from

Kelly, E., Young, A., Clark, L. (1993). Sex Stereotyping in the Workplace: A Manager’s Guide — Women in Business. Business Horizons, March-April. Retrieved from;col1

Taggart, A. (2007). Beyond Diversity: Becoming a Culturally Competent Organization. Ivey Business Journal, September-October. Retrieved from

Workman, D. (2008). International Trade Communication: Smart Business Negotiators Adapt to Audience Cultural Styles. Retrieved from