Do Canadians Have an Advantage in International Business?

When a person comes from a different country, things such as the age you presented in front of a group and how you present yourself can have an important impact on the people you work with.

Nardon emphasizes that success in multicultural or international settings is not entirely about being Canadian, but being a culturally informed individual.

“When we think in terms of business, we don’t think: ‘What is the nationality of this individual?’” Nardon says. “We look at: ‘Who is this individual and what is this individual’s expertise, knowledge and skills?’ I don’t know of any study that has treated a particular group as better than another particular group.”

To achieve success in management positions where employees are from diverse, multicultural backgrounds, Nardon explains that leadership is key.

“With cultural diversity, you have different understandings; different knowledge bases. Taking advantage of that means you are looking for those different perspectives to get to more innovative ideas and better solutions for problems.”

Sameness is not desired here. Celebrating our differences, and gathering them for new ideas, is what Nardon suggests will help in the cross-cultural management setting.

“You no longer have to take an international assignment to lead a group of people from a different cultural background as you,” Tim Jackson and Erik Girard write for HRvoice. “Organizations are increasingly multinational in scope, operating subsidiaries and establishing reporting structures across several cultures, making global work teams the new norm.”

The article by Jackson and Girard cites certain universal qualities that people everywhere define as positive. These include: integrity, charismatic-visionary, charismatic-inspirational and team-building.

They believe that these barriers will soon fall down in the world of business.

“If leaders can appreciate how culture influences perceptions of leadership effectiveness,” Jackson and Girard write. “They can adjust their style to produce the maximum impact and the best business outcomes.”

The Effectiveness of Pro-diversity

Discrimination in the workplace often focuses on minority groups that have been marginalized by the wider spectrum of society. This type of intolerance is present both in Canadian business and for those Canadians who travel abroad to work internationally.

Guerrero et al.,write in their article titled “Pro-diversity practices and perceived insider status” that “minority groups tend to perceive themselves and be perceived as out-group organizational members because access to key positions and resources in the organization has been historically controlled by majority groups.”

So how do business workers challenge this issue?

The article suggests that pro-diversity programs be put into place to promote equity between co-workers. “Pro-diversity practices may be implemented without damaging the attitudes and behaviors of majority group members as long as these practices offer equal chances of success rather than a more favorable treatment to lower-status groups.”

The most key aspect to these pro-diversity methods is fairness. According to Guerrero et al., it “reflects the individual perception that the organization provides the same value to all employees when human resource decisions are taken.”

Humans are social creatures, and part of our social psychological rests on judgment. People judge others to determine things about them – whether or not they are trustworthy, for example. Stereotyping and assumptions are often used in these cases, and can sometimes be useful. But in the international workplace?

Guerrero et al., write that “the creation of social groups leads to a distinction of individuals who are included in the group (the insiders or in-group members) from those who are not (the outsiders or out-group members).”

If the pro-diversity methods are to be put into place, in Canada and in foreign countries where Canadians work, it may promote a better workplace environment and relationship between co-workers of diverse nationalities.

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