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What are 3 Core Values of Canadian Business Culture?


Work with Canadians or doing business in Canada?

In this blog, we're going to explore 3 core values that shape Canadian culture and business.

By understanding the role of these values, you will be better placed to adapt your approach and make a good impression with Canadians.

Although Canadian business culture shares many of the characteristics of generic Western business cultures, there are a number of features that make it distinctly Canadian.

Before we look at these in more detail, it’s important to first emphasise that Canada is one of the most diverse and multicultural countries on earth.

In fact, estimates suggest that there are over 250 ethnicities that collectively make up the Canadian people.

Coupled with slight differences between Anglophone and Francophone businesses practices, it’s important that you’re flexible when working with Canadians and that you don’t perceive the following points as hard and fast rules.

Want to learn more about Canadian culture? Check out the link at the end of the page!

3 Core Canadian Values You Need to Know

1. Formality

It’s fair to say that Canadian business culture can be slightly more formal than other Western business cultures.

Formality is reflected in a number of areas, such as in the business dress, which tends to be fairly conservative.

The importance placed on good manners is another area that lends to this formality. You’ll find that Canadians are incredibly polite and that everyday courtesies are valued and expected. You may also find that people who don’t know each other very well will use titles such as Mr and Mrs or Monsieur and Madam.

Some business practices, such as meetings can also be fairly formal.

For example, they are usually highly structured with a focus on punctuality, time, purpose and tasks. Although they might start with a little small talk, they typically move quickly into business.

Canadian flag icon


Did you know that The Business Culture Complexity Index™ ranks Canada as the 16th easiest business culture in the world?

The values we explore in this blog help explain why.



2. Equality

Another prominent feature of Canadian business culture is the emphasis on equality.

Canadians don’t place a great deal of value on position or rank.

As a result, you will find that many Canadian organisations are flat.

The value placed on equality is also demonstrated in the management style, which tends to be team-focused, egalitarian and consultative.

It’s rare that you’ll find that a manager expects special treatment due to their position.

People talking in Toronto

Values also shape the way people communicate.

Click here to read about the Canadian communication style

Photo by Dan Newman on Unsplash

3. Independence

Equality is intertwined with another influential value – that of independence.

Although teams are an important part of Canadian business culture, employees tend to operate as individuals within that team – only calling on team members when they need input or support.

Team members are far less reliant on each other than they might be in more collective cultures. They tend to understand their responsibilities and typically work to deliver these independently of their colleagues.

When team members experience issues or challenges, they are expected to try and work them out for themselves before calling on others.

The values placed on independence and equality, mean that discrimination is taken extremely seriously.

Any breach of rights relating to areas such as gender, race, disability, religion and sexuality are taken very seriously.

In fact, individuals who make comments or behave in a way deemed to be discriminatory can lose the respect of others at best or end up in disciplinary proceedings at worst.

Core Canadian Values

So, to summarise, Canadian business culture tends to value formality, equality and independence.

In a country that sees its success as being derived from diversity, Canadians tend to be tolerant of each other and to respect each other through moderate speech and an emphasis on equality.

Communication and business transactions are all conducted with an appreciation for manners and professionalism.

Expert Cultural Training on Canada

commisceo culture webinars

If you need formal training on Canadian business culture, then this is what we do!

We offer customized cultural training courses on Canada for teams and organizations..

Our experts cover a wide range of topics including business essentials such as relationship building, meetings, negotiations, virtual communication and leadership.


Take an eLearning Course on Canadian Business Culture

video training

If you prefer an off-the-shelf course on Canada, then we've got that covered too!

Check out our online Canada cultural training course.

It covers communication, business culture, etiquette and much more!

Perfect for professionals relocating to Canada or those doing business with Canadians.



Blog image by Andre Furtado from Pexels

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