Embracing the Cultural Gap – How to handle the challenge!

Culture is often defined as the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a certain time.

Today the world has become an open door. While globality is a huge benefit for individuals as well as the economy, it also brings increased awareness to the existence of the difference between cultures. Cultural gaps exist everywhere. Amongst colleagues at the workplace, amongst providers and clients and sometimes even within personal relationships. But that doesn’t mean that this gap is a negative aspect.

Geert Hofstede’s detailed research on this topic, which was published in 1980 and still remains an important lecture in that field today (“Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values”) was based on an extensive study including over 100,000 participants worldwide. Cultural gaps and the challenges or benefits have always been a topic for social studies, as well as workplace studies.

In today’s economy everybody should be interested and motivated to learn, grow and benefit from it. Rather than trying to close this gap, it could be useful to find those differences amongst cultures that you face in daily life, and in a business environment, and make them work for you.

Race, ethnicity and gender differences might be the first topics most readers think about in this context, but cultural differences include so much more. Aspect such as age, education or the personal background are also very important. But even differences in income, political views or language ability have to be taken into account.

When economies shift and grow, so does the demand for an adequate workforce to keep up with these changes. A diverse workforce is not only necessary today – it can be the key to economic success or failure. The outsourcing industry is a sector that than can largely benefit from this gap.

How we at SELLBYTEL benefit from the cultural gap and embrace the challenges:

  • With our diverse workforce we provide more innovative ideas that benefit our clients and their customers.
  • Our colleagues and their various personalities contribute to a better team spirit and a balance as well as increased problem solving skills.
  • All team members learn to be more understanding towards each other due to different lifestyles. This effect and understanding extends to work relationships, creating a more harmonious environment for customers.
  • We promote learning from each other and supporting and advancing each personality into the right role.

In today’s economy, companies want to sell or produce their services and products globally. For example, manufacturing a product in China, with an all Chinese workforce and an all Chinese development and distribution team, as well as a local marketing team, won’t get you the success you desire in Europe. Embracing economic diversity has the potential to boost a company competitively. The demographic and geographical changes in the consumer profile lead to the necessity of a change in the workforce as well. There is now an increased need for a heterogeneous workforce, as customers come from various backgrounds and they need to be addressed with the same diverse workforce.

Possible challenges many companies face:

  • Finding the right international workforce to complement each other can be quite difficult.
  • Some cultures are possibly not used to speaking up to contributing their ideas or provide active input.
  • Setting up offices in different countries that may view diversity different can be challenging.
  • Communicating the unique aspect about diversity or cultural dimensions: each individual might interpret that differently. Some cultures might put the common team goal as top priority while the individual success is much more important for other cultures.

Due to these challenges, companies are sometimes forced to show up with an expat workforce in order to grow the local / more diverse community gradually. SELLBYTEL has been a leading service provider with expert knowledge in the development of new sites with a diverse workforce for almost three decades, in countries such as Spain, Malaysia, the U.S. and Russia.

How SELLBYTEL closes the gap:

  • International employees at all of our offices allow for a variety of languages offered right from the start.
  • Providing a variety of services to international clients.
  • Employees with different backgrounds, ethnicity, age, lifestlye, etc.
  • A lot of employee events so teams who don’t work in the same office get to know each other and learn from each other.
  • Language courses.
  • Embracing physical challenges and diversity.
  • Promote equality.
  • Recognizing each employee as an individual and encourage them to share their values.

This is also what our clients value about our service and why we successfully manage programs globally, often centralized for various countries and regions. Stereotyping a cultural issue or the lack of recognition creates a gap, which in turn can weaken a company or community. We promote, support, value, mentor and educate each other and all our employees to create the best possible international and culturally diverse environment for our clients and team to benefit equally.

The things that are equal for all cultures are also things we value and promote: fairness and respect.

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