Cultural Diversity

For those who are unsure of the reasons that they might need Cultural Awareness Training, here are some examples of how cultural diversity affects business and social interactions.

Time Keeping:

In Argentina, punctuality is not overvalued. A 9am meeting is unlikely to start before 9.15am. Conferences or larger meetings are worse. As a visitor you should err on the side of caution, but be prepared to wait.

In Germany, always try to be on time or, if possible, early to appointments, and arrange for meetings or interviews well in advance. Germans, however, may play the “Deutsche Akademisches Viertel” (“German quarter-hour”) card, which allows them, not you, to be late.

In Britain, they tend to be punctual, and meetings generally follow the Anglo-Saxon norm, with brief chit-chat swiftly followed by a focused, action-oriented discussion.

In India, punctuality is a flexible concept: if someone promises to meet you in ten minutes, expect arrival in 20. 

Business cards

In China, exchanging business cards is a must! Use both hands to receive a card and look at it immediately. Offer yours in return, again using both hands. It's considered impolite to hand a name card to someone using one hand.

In Britain, business cards are typically exchanged at the end of a meeting. But it is not unusual for a Brit to forget about them entirely. If your contact fumbles around for his card, or fails to produce one, don't take it personally.

In India, bring plenty of business cards; you will be handing them out frequently, and not having enough is considered rude.

In Saudi Arabia, business cards are essential; always carry a small stack with you. They are usually handed out at the beginning of the meeting, after a formal greeting.


In Saudi Arabia, work attire tends to be quite formal, except for Thursdays, when many companies adopt a casual look. Women should dress modestly, covering shoulders, upper arms and knees. This is especially important during Ramadan.

In Brazil, it is always smart to arrive at a business meeting in a suit and tie, but sometimes even investment bankers wear “smart casuals” in the office.

In Russia, pay attention to your clothing. Russians dress as well as they can afford to, and rarely do “slacker” style. Turning up looking too casual or scruffy could cause offence.

In France, it is always advisable to dress up rather than down. Senior businessmen are invariably immaculate and “dress-down Fridays” remains a foreign concept!