Multiculturalism In Corporate America:
Who Benefits, And Why Should I Care?
We've reached the age in which global structures have become the key components of any viable corporation. Large or small, corporate America is now recognizing the importance of reaching out to other nations. No longer an issue of whether or not one will choose to become international, if you're in business, it's almost a fact of life. The United States itself has blossomed into a nation of some 103 cultures from around the world. As a result, we've become international right here at home.
To many people in America's corporations, the word "multicultural" has become synonymous with civil rights and affirmative action. Junior executives sent to multicultural and cultural diversity seminars frequently ask what multiculturalism has to do with them. And just as often, someone in the room will reply, "It's good business. It's the bottom line."
But multiculturalism is more than good business and the bottom line. From the marketing standpoint, it's natural to assume you'll want to learn some of the customs and societal bugaboos if you're marketing in a foreign land. Yet if you're plunging into international waters, you'd better know more than how to sink
A willingness to develop positive intercultural relationships from the ground floor up, in the home office workforce, or with clients around the globe, will determine the long-range business success that goes far beyond those profit margins. It's the art of developing awareness, acceptance, understanding, and adaptation to the nuances of each one of our world's cultures, races and religions. "We have a tendency to believe if it's good enough for America, it's good enough elsewhere," Donald Utroska of Paul R. Where to begin Seek out the services of a multicultural consultant who offers diversity training beyond the tolerance levels, if possible on an annual basis. We seem to have no problem in adapting to changes in marketing techniques, yet adaptation to other cultures seems almost inconsequential in the United States. The most successful corporate leader might know a client's entire family -- from kids to the grandparents on both sides, and even know which of the kids has asthma -- before she closes that important sale. Multiculturalism begins at home, but you will reap the benefits from around the world. In contrast to the melting pot, multiculturalism encourages us to take pride in our own roots first, in our ingredients we've added to what has become America's multicultural stew. Understanding why the melting pot didn't work as well as people in 1908 had hoped, helps us to understand the differences in the terminology when we speak of multiculturalism. The melting pot concept spoke of all Americans being part of the enormous "culture stew" we call America. Doing business with just the bare essentials of what you think will be acceptable in another culture can be a costly lesson to learn! In the American business world, we're inclined to rush, moving to a first name basis often by the second contact, and just as often, expecting to close hot deals in a matter of a week or two. So why bother In the international marketplace, this method of doing business is the crux of whether or not someone will trust you, and trust is at the very heart of many international businesses. But the term itself lingered in the hearts of many people who saw the United States of America as a place where historical hurts from their homelands could be erased. Every one of our ancestors had added something special to that culture stew, whether it was from their geographical and cultural perspective, religious beliefs, or something more visible: a racial classification.