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When I'm not hanging out in the beautiful sunshine of Africa, you will find me here sharing content about culture - you'll soon see why I'm called the Culture Vulture.

Understanding Culture when Marketing to the Hispanic and Latino Community

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Did you know that the buying power of Hispanic consumers has increased  by 212%, to $1.5 trillian this decade (2010 -2020)?

Hispanic now account for 1/6 of American consumers, making this community a valuable prospect.

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33 Tips on Working in Multicultural Teams

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Do you work in a culturally diverse team?

Well, we know very well that sometimes cultural differences can cause some challenges.

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HR Directors, Basil Fawlty and Cultural Training

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Some recent findings by The London School of English show language and cultural training are still not getting the attention they deserve within companies today.

In fact, the spirit of Basil Fawlty seems to live on within some British businesses!

Despite the Government pinning hopes on UK PLC exporting, it brings into question whether UK companies are thinking globally and making the effort to understand their target cultures, or whether they are instead relying on the rest of the world to think and act like them?

The findings suggest that, "UK-based businesses could be risking international growth by failing to invest in cross-cultural and communications training."

The results spwan from research carried out that questioned 100 HR directors on their attitudes towards communication skills and their approach to training.

These centenary research results show a shocking lacking of regard for our international business partners,” says Timothy Blake, Chief Executive of the London School of English. “The Brits may be reluctant to learn other languages, but this research suggests that we are not even prepared to invest in understanding the cultures they work with."

Headline findings in the report include:

•    98% of HR Directors believed their non-native English speakers should communicate effectively in English.
•    Although 67% of those questioned believed that it was “very important” for business people to have a good cultural understanding of their trading partners; only 23% would offer training.
•    Only 4% believed the “Basil Fawlty” approach of speaking “more loudly” would be effective in communicating with non-native English speakers.

Worrying stuff isnt it?

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New Zealand teachers to improve knowledge of Maori culture

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New Zealand Education Minster, Pita Sharples, has launched a new initiative ‘Tataiako’ that aims to help teachers to improve their understanding of Maori culture.

The resource, which acts as a set of guidelines, enables teachers to reflect on their past cultural sensitivity, to assess their existing knowledge,  and also to take responsibility for improving their cultural awareness for the future.

The important aspect of this particular programme is that it looks to establish a long-term reflexive attitude within the teaching commuity. The stress is not to enforce rules or test teachers, but instead to encourage them to contemplate upon their own experiences and behaviour throughout their careers.

New Zealand is popular with tourists from all over the world and is famous for accommodating and welcoming their needs. However, as with every country, it is vital that it considers the cultural integration of its own citizens before true pluralism can be achieved. It is not about a short-term activity-based integration or homogenizing of migrant communities, it is about the existing people of New Zealand having respect for the cultures of their own islands.

“Engaging in respectful working relationships with Maori students and their families” (quoted from: New Zealand news platform ‘Stuff’) is a key point taken from the new guidelines. It extends from the classroom discussion and integrity of cultural awareness to broader social integration of different communities within New Zealand (school) life. A further three guidelines outline “sincerity and respect towards Maori beliefs, language and culture”, taking responsibility for the learning of Maori students and the deliberate recognition of Maori student’s heritage as the core competancies for teachers to work for.

The main need is to understand the importance of identity to Maori students and their communities. Without understanding the unique perspectives of these children and young adults, you cannot fully engage in understanding how school and learning can and will come across to them.

Statistical evidence over the past decade has shown that students from a Maori background are falling behind those children from other ethnic groups. Improving cultural awareness will not only improve the continuity of Maori childrens’ lives, but will also make it easier for communication to exist between schools and Maori communities on the issue of education.

Finally, from the development of more culturally aware and skillful teachers should come the formulation a of more respectful, united and happy student population.

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What are some Tips for Expats Moving to China?

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Expatriate relocation can be a challenge regardless of the new home country.

However, it's fair to say that some countries are more challenging for Western expats than others - with China being one such example. 

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Culture and the Michigan Fish Test

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Stop! Before you read any further, and we explain the Michigan Fish Test, take a look at the picture for a few seconds.

Now look away and describe what you have just seen...

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Is Australia Tolerant of Other Cultures?

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In this blog, we give a synopsis of research carried out by the Challenging Racism Project.

As a cultural training company, this research is particularly interesting to us as it highlights the importance of cultural understanding in the battle against racism. 

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Do you have to be ‘Cultured’ to Understand other Cultures?

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Life in Britain is becoming more multi-cultural.

We hear this view from the media, the government and experts all the time. But what does this ‘culture’ for which we are diversifying actually mean?

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The Middle East Unveiled: A Review

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As someone in the intercultural field, a Muslim and having spent many years living, working and travelling throughout the Arab world, I am always keen to scrutinize literature aimed at business professionals seeking to improve their knowledge of the region.

Donna Marsh’s “The Middle East Unveiled” is a recent edition to such literature.

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Milkman shows ultimate Cross-Cultural Customer Service

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This is a great story in the way in which even the smalled business outlet can boost their reputation and demand by taking the time to understand the cultural needs of their customers.

Let's look at how a sole milkman has become a success story for cross cultural customer service

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What is a 'Third Culture Kid'?

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Gone are the days when extended families lived within a few miles of each other.

Ease of travel and global working have facilited a world in which children are increasingly likely to grow up in countries outside of their parent's passport cultures.

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Why are American Graduates Looking for Jobs in China?

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With unemployment soaring in the USA, students graduating from American universities are more likely than ever to try their hand at gaining employment in Shanghai and Beijing. 

Joshua Arjuna Stephens, a 2007 graduate of Wesleyan University, works in Beijing for XPD Media, which makes online games.

Even those with limited or no knowledge of Chinese are heeding the call. They are lured by China’s surging economy, the challenges of immersing oneself into the Chinese culture, learning a well sought after language and bypassing some of the dues-paying that is common to first jobs in the United States. 

Critically, individuals moving to China from the USA, find they have far more spending power due to China's lower living costs. This is a great pull for recent graduates with student debts to repay. 

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Why is China Becoming a Top Expat Destination?

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The annual Global Relocation Trends report, from  Brookfield Global Relocation Services, reports that China is the top expat destination followed by the U.S., UK, Singapore and Switzerland. 

 China has some great advantages for inbound expats

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Review: Yanks in Blighty

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Donna Marsh is a business woman and cultural awareness trainer specialising in many fields.

Over her 30 year professional career she has visited more than 140 countries. As a strue globe-trotter this has given her a great insight into the field of intercultural communication, awareness and skills.

Now this experience has translated itself into a new publication entitled "Yanks in Blighty".

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Cross Culture Kids

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I recently attended the 11th annual Families in Global Transition (FIGT) conference – (an idea which was first planned at a kitchen table in Indianapolis). 

That kitchen table belonged to author and Cross-Culture Kid (CCK) expert, Ruth van Reken. The first conference attracted 80 delegates but this year's boasted over 200.

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AlloExpat Targets Expatriate Service Providers

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Allo' Expat Sdn Bhd, a Malaysia headquartered online publisher and www.AlloExpat.com.

Launched eight years ago, with now more than 40,000 visitors daily, AlloExpat.com is becoming the preferred online media for advertisers in the "expat industry" around the world.

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Businesses Failing to Provide Cultural Training

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Leading research and workplace innovation company, Career Innovation (Ci) has today published the results of its latest study, Cross-Cultural Development Conversations.

Carried out across 45 leading companies worldwide, the new study has found that although organisations are aware of the need to skill up their leaders to manage the cross-cultural workforce, few have acted to make this a reality.

At a time when the pace and scale of globalisation has never been higher, competition for the best talent remains intense. The effectiveness of development conversations in organisations is known to play a significant role in engaging and retaining key talent.

Factoring in the complexity of a diverse and dispersed workforce makes it even tougher to ensure that these conversations are at their most effective.

According to the 45 organisations interviewed (Sept-Nov 08), the business importance of working effectively across cultures is high and rising. Most are already operating complex organizations across multiple regions and almost all (91%) indicated they expect cultural diversity in their organisations to increase over the next 3-5 years, with nearly 50% expecting a “significant increase”.

The study revealed three top factors that impact cross-cultural development conversations:

1) The directness of communication style
2) Language differences – especially when people are not communicating in their first language
3) The need to establish high levels of trust across cultures, in order for development conversations to be effective

Differences between Asian and Western cultures were consistently reported as a particular challenge by respondents with 50% of organisations reporting this as an issue.

Companies identified many key employee development processes that are impacted by these cultural hurdles. For example, 60% of organisations said that coaching relationships can be much tougher to establish in some cultures than in others. Giving feedback can also present challenges, with one company finding that its Chinese employees quit after receiving challenging feedback.

“This issue has a big impact on global organisations”, says Ci’s founder Jonathan Winter. “Although they are increasingly aware of the need to encourage meaningful dialogue with employees about their careers and development, only a few have really taken on board the additional complexities overlaid by the cross-cultural dimension. Left unresolved the cross-cultural conversation gap hits the bottom line in a way companies can ill afford in today’s tough times.”

Organisations who are placing the strongest focus on building their employees’ cross-cultural competence report significant benefits including improved attraction and retention rates.

Following on from this study and Ci’s previous Conversation Gap research, Ci will be developing its existing career tools and approaches to encourage more leaders to develop cross-cultural thinking as part of their everyday style. Winter offers an example of how this will be incorporated, “Our Engaging Conversations multi-rater tool is already helping mangers around the world improve their staff dialogue skills and habits. We’re going to take that to the next stage and incorporate the cross-cultural dimension”.

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India turns away from expats to home-grown talent

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Expatriate executives, who were the flavour of the season when India was riding high on a 9%-plus growth rate, are now becoming the first ones to get the pink slip as Indian industry, hit by the slowdown, starts looking within the country for inexpensive hires.

“Many of the expatriate executives, who have been asked to leave, are subject experts. Their value diminishes in a downturn as companies are no more expanding, and thus don’t need people to guide in a new venture,” says K Sudarshan, MD of executive search firm EMA Partners’ India unit.

It's fair to say that Indian staff are naturally more effective within their position due to their understanding of Indian culture and business know how. 

Since October 2008, there has been a spate of replacements of expat executives with Indian professionals at the senior level. 

Read more > Execs in India

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What Skills do I need for an International Career?

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As an international careers adviser, I receive questions daily from people of varied backgrounds who hope to try their luck in the global marketplace.

Many job seekers mistakenly believe that they can’t begin an international career until their feet are on foreign soil.

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Intercultural Skills are Crucial say HR Leaders

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According to a survey of more than 100 senior Human Resource managers, 81% of companies agree that international work experience is a crucial criterion for leadership in a global organization.

Why? Because international leaders cannot lead global teams without the necessary intercultural skills and insights. 

The survey, "The Importance of Cultural Skills in Senior Managers," conducted by RW-3 LLC, an international training organization, and ORC Worldwide, a global human resource consulting firm, was designed to measure the importance of cultural competencies and global experience as criteria for senior management.

"During the current liquidity crisis, we've seen yet again how the global economy is entirely interconnected and how international cooperation is critical for the world's economic well being," said Michael S. Schell, president of RW-3.

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