A Tool That Maps Out Cultural Differences – Harvard Business Review



Interesting approach to understanding cross-cultural differences from a management perspective. Canada does not figure but the graphs are interesting. Risk of stereotyping, of course, but it may help people reflect on their styles and the impact on others:

Erin Meyer, an American (from Minnesota) in Paris who coaches executives in managing cross-cultural career moves and teaches at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, has a theory about these malentendus. The problem, she argues, is that most people tend to emphasize just one or two, at most three, dimensions of cultural difference when it comes to parsing and predicting foreigners’ behavior.

But cultures differ along many more than three dimensions, so the more dimensions you consider, the less likely you are to trip up on a cultural paradox — you’ll be able to tell that incoming French manager to tone down critiques of his American subordinates before he upsets them.

The trouble, of course, is that it’s cognitively difficult for us to keep more than three dimensions of comparison in our head at once. What’s more, we tend to lose sight of the fact that relative, not absolute differences, are what matters. Most cultures would find the Brazilians to be very relaxed about punctuality, for instance, but Brazilians themselves tend to struggle to adapt to Indians’ even more casual notions of time.

A Tool That Maps Out Cultural Differences – David Champion – Harvard Business Review.

Companies see diversity pay off

An example of diversity leadership in legal practice, Denton’s Canada (highlighting their Calgary office):

“From a cultural perspective, we’ve had zero pushback from senior leadership on embracing (diversity and inclusion) programs,” says Ghitters. “Diversity isn’t a fad. We’re in it for the long term.”

Having been recognized recently as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc., Ghitters said diversity has to be built into the culture of a company with buy-in from the top down.

In the past six to eight months, the company has done everything from host several events supporting the LGBT community, had inspirational speakers, and ongoing support from the firm’s regional diversity committees for its array of programs.

It’s all part of an effort to instil a sense of support for diversity in every aspect of the company’s operations.

It appears to be working. “Any good workplace culture has some fun to it and this is a good way to celebrate diversity,” said Jordan Deering, partner and co-lead of the diversity committee in Calgary with Ghitters.

They use the simple method of reflecting the naturally diverse nature of the clients they serve and the cities they operate in across Canada.

“It also assists us in approaching legal issues from different perspectives and ways of thinking,” says Deering. “It helps us look at things from all angles.”

Companies see diversity pay off.

Why Race Has Been the Real Story of Obama’s Presidency All Along

Lengthy but interesting article by Jonathan Chait on the enduring legacy of slavery, and how it plays into the political and ideological divides in the US. Worth reading:

And the truth is almost too brutal to be acknowledged. A few months ago, three University of Rochester political scientists—Avidit Acharya, Matthew Blackwell, and Maya Sen—published an astonishing study. They discovered that a strong link exists between the proportion of slaves residing in a southern county in 1860 and the racial conservatism (and voting habits) of its white residents today. The more slave-intensive a southern county was 150 years ago, the more conservative and Republican its contemporary white residents. The authors tested their findings against every plausible control factor—for instance, whether the results could be explained simply by population density—but the correlation held. Higher levels of slave ownership in 1860 made white Southerners more opposed to affirmative action, score higher on the anti-black-affect scale, and more hostile to Democrats.

The authors suggest that the economic shock of emancipation, which suddenly raised wages among the black labor pool, caused whites in the most slave-intensive counties to “promote local anti-black sentiment by encouraging violence towards blacks, racist norms and cultural beliefs,” which “produced racially hostile attitudes that have been passed down from parents to children.” The scale of the effect they found is staggering. Whites from southern areas with very low rates of slave ownership exhibit attitudes similar to whites in the North—an enormous difference, given that Obama won only 27 percent of the white vote in the South in 2012, as opposed to 46 percent of the white vote outside the South.

The Rochester study should, among other things, settle a very old and deep argument about the roots of America’s unique hostility to the welfare state. Few industrialized economies provide as stingy aid to the poor as the United States; in none of them is the principle of universal health insurance even contested by a major conservative party. Conservatives have long celebrated America’s unique strand of anti-statism as the product of our religiosity, or the tradition of English liberty, or the searing experience of the tea tax. But the factor that stands above all the rest is slavery….

And yet—as vital as this revelation may be for understanding conservatism, it still should not be used to dismiss the beliefs of individual conservatives. Individual arguments need and deserve to be assessed on their own terms, not as the visible tip of a submerged agenda; ideas can’t be defined solely by their past associations and uses.

Liberals experience the limits of historically determined analysis in other realms, like when the conversation changes to anti-Semitism. Here is an equally charged argument in which conservatives dwell on the deep, pernicious power of anti-Semitism hiding its ugly face beneath the veneer of legitimate criticism of Israel. When, during his confirmation hearings last year for Defense secretary, Chuck Hagel came under attack for having once said “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” conservatives were outraged. (The Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens: “The word ‘intimidates’ ascribes to the so-called Jewish lobby powers that are at once vast, invisible and malevolent.”) Liberals were outraged by the outrage: The blog Think Progress assembled a list of writers denouncing the accusations as a “neocon smear.” The liberal understanding of anti-­Semitism is an inversion of conservative thinking about race. Liberals recognize the existence of the malady and genuinely abhor it; they also understand it as mostly a distant, theoretical problem, and one defined primarily as a personal animosity rather than something that bleeds into politics. Their interest in the topic consists almost entirely of indignation against its use as slander to circumscribe the policy debate.

Why Race Has Been the Real Story of Obama’s Presidency All Along — New York Magazine.

C-24 – Citizenship Act Revisions – Committee Hearings Started

Will be interesting to see how these play out. First day was essentially introduction plus some initial positions from the opposition parties:

… NDP opposition critic Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe started off by asking Alexander to address the bill’s constitutionality. Given the Harper government’s record on tests of constitutionality before the Supreme Court recently, the question’s a touchy one.

In particular, she asked whether the new requirement for those applying for Canadian citizenship to declare their intention to reside in Canada post-citizenship — violated sections six and 15 of the Charter — those that protect the right to free mobility and equal protection under the law.

“With regard to our bill and the constitution — of course we reviewed this bill in that context. I carried this out with my colleague the minister of justice and we believe this bill is in complete conformity with the requirements of our constitution,” Alexander answered in French.

“It is reasonable, in our view, to require that a permanent resident wishing to become a Canadian citizen express his or her intention to reside in Canada.”

Liberal critic John McCullum focussed on the impact of no longer providing credit to foreign students for time spent in Canada prior to becoming permanent residents as part of residency qualifications. Minister Alexander restated the government’s position.

This change also affects refugees, arguably not a priority for the Government, and live-in caregivers. The latter, largely Filipinos, may, should the Filipino Canadian community become active on this issue, may be more problematic given that this community is one of the Government’s political target communities.

To be continued, and thanks to iPolitics for covering the hearings.

Citizenship reform bill is constitutional, Alexander assures committee

The interfaith agreement on the ‘errant weeds’ of Christianity, Islam and Judaism

Interesting piece by Marc Ellis on extremism in all Abrahamic religions – “errant weeds” as he calls it:

But terror in the name of religion – and religious and ethnic identity – is widespread historically and today. Since most believers are not involved directly in the violence that some partake in, we shouldn’t paint with too broad a brush. The September 11th museum video may indeed walk this disturbing fine line. But to hold Islam as a religion, in its expression and in some of its core principles, innocent of violence historically or in the present is absurd.

It’s like pretending that violence in the name of Christianity contradicts Christianity and some of Christianity’s core values as they developed. Thus any violence done in the name of Christianity represents the “hijacking” of Christianity. Taking this perspective, then, through much of Christian history, Christianity has been hijacked. Perhaps we should distinguish the Christianity many Christians want today from – shall we call it – Hijacked Christianity?

Rather than pretending to an innocent tradition, call it Innocent Islam and Innocent Christianity, perhaps it is better to think of a desired separation from Hijacked Islam and Hijacked Christianity. But then how does religion support itself, go global and play its part in the affairs of the state in a way that benefits them and their followers without being hijacked?

To preserve the sense of innocence, religion’s collusion with power is unannounced and behind the scenes. To put it bluntly, you don’t get mosques or churches in the town square without being fully corrupted and embedded in the state while pretending to innocence.

Nor do you get Passover Seders in the White House without being a power to be reckoned with.

Which means we can’t leave out Hijacked Judaism.

The interfaith agreement on the ‘errant weeds’ of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Western Jihadists in Syria Threaten to Bring Their War Back Home – The Daily Beast

Maajid Nawaz of the Quillam Foundation on the risks of jihadists currently fighting in Syria and possible blowback upon their return to the West:

We are watching the largest mobilization in a generation of volunteers traveling abroad to join a war. An estimated 11,000 foreign fighters have been mobilized in Syria, according to a just-published study by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (PDF). More than a quarter of those combatants are from Western countries, mostly from Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and Belgium. Australians, Canadians and U.S. citizen also have joined the ranks.

But judging by our complacency, you would be forgiven for not knowing this. Partly, that’s because some on the left in Britain and elsewhere have been busy downplaying the conflict or romanticizing it as something akin to the international brigades during the Spanish Civil War that attracted George Orwell and other idealists. But unlike Orwell in the 1930s, these fighters on their way to Syria are not traveling to fight against fascists. Many are young Western Muslims rushing to join a fascist group that is too extreme even for al-Qaeda: the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Members have been known to behead even fellow fighters. And it’s not much consolation that the more “moderate” volunteers are joining, Jabhat al-Nusra, which is the official Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

Western Jihadists in Syria Threaten to Bring Their War Back Home – The Daily Beast.

Within Canada, a RCMP initiative to reduce the number of potential extremists traveling to Syria or other hotspots:

The tactics used to disrupt extremists varied depending on whether they were preparing to leave Canada, were already abroad or had returned after training or fighting, Assistant Commissioner Malizia said.

By working with other federal agencies, the RCMP was able to determine what “enforcement or mitigation action would be most appropriate depending on the circumstances, grounds and the threat,” he said.

“Amongst others, this could include the removal of a passport. If there is a threat to aviation it could involve a referral for the Specified Persons List led by Public Safety. And in cases where the subject of investigation is not Canadian, the cancellation of a visa.”

But the program may not be able to stop determined extremists. After serving a prison sentence for his role in the Toronto 18 terrorist group, Somali-Canadian Ali Dirie was still somehow able to travel to Syria, where he died last August.

RCMP tracking ‘high-risk’ Canadians to prevent radicalized youths from joining foreign terrorist groups

Canadian Public Service Commission studies on Employment Equity designated groups

Courtesy of the Community of Federal Visible Minorities (CFVM), summary of the findings of recent studies on employment equity hiring. Main findings:

  • Men who are members of visible minorities have greater chances of promotion than their comparison group, and women who are members of visible minorities have fewer chances of promotion than their comparison group;
  • Men and women with disabilities have fewer chances of promotion than their respective comparison groups;
  • Aboriginal men and women have similar chances of promotion than their respective comparison groups; and
  • Women who do not belong to another EE group have similar chances of promotion to men who do not belong to other EE groups.

As to perceptions of fairness:

  • Men with disabilities and men who are members of visible minorities have less favourable perceptions than their respective comparison groups;
  • Aboriginal men have similar perceptions to their comparison group;
  • Women who are members of visible minorities have less favourable perceptions than their comparison group;
  • Aboriginal women and women with disabilities have similar perceptions to their respective comparison groups; and
  • Men who do not belong to an EE group have less favourable perceptions than women who do not belong to another EE group

For the complete reports:

Statistical Study – Members of EE Groups: Perceptions of Merit and Fairness in Staffing Activities

Statistical Study – Members of EE Groups: Chances of Promotion

Appointments to the Public Service by Employment Equity Designated Group for 2012-2013 – Statistical Update

How to bring theatre to an increasingly multicultural Canada – The Globe and Mail

Good initiative in terms of recognizing the diversity, and richness of that diversity, broadening audiences and improving cross-cultural understanding and appreciation:

Enter the Gateway Pacific Theatre Festival. This August, Sy and festival producer Esther Ho will bring in three productions from Hong Kong and present them with English surtitles: The Isle, by leading Hong Kong playwright Paul Poon; Fire of Desire, a contemporary Chinese-language adaptation of La Ronde; and Detention, a “non-verbal physical comedy” by Tang Shu-wing.

And this festival is only a pilot project to measure the demand for what Sy plans to roll out in 2016 – the Pacific Series, a year-round, Chinese-language (English-surtitled) alternative to the Gateway’s subscription series of English-language plays.

Rupal Shah, a Toronto producer who holds the Cultural Diversity Portfolio on the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) board of directors, thinks Sy may be on to something. She’s been hired by theatres in the past to do community outreach to the South Asian community, but has given it up lately. She’s disappointed that producers will lure in new audiences to an individual play that may appeal to them, then simply cross their fingers that those new spectators will stick around for the Chekhov and Shakespeare to come.

How to bring theatre to an increasingly multicultural Canada – The Globe and Mail.

Mahmoud Abbas Shifts on Holocaust – NYTimes.com

Some of the background behind Abbas’s statement on the Holocaust. While the article argues the timing is terrible, given yet another Hamas-Fatah reconciliation effort, it is nevertheless significant. And sometimes timing is deliberate to counter other events and decisions, as it is in many countries:

The rabbi who prompted the Holocaust statement, Marc Schneier, is the founder of both the celebrity-studded modern Orthodox Hampton Synagogue and the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a 25-year-old group that fosters relations between Jews and Muslims, blacks and Latinos. Rabbi Schneier said he met with Mr. Abbas at his West Bank headquarters for about 40 minutes last Sunday to enlist his support against European crackdowns on ritual animal slaughter and human circumcision, and for a program that would establish partnerships between Palestinian mosques and Israeli synagogues.

When he suggested that it would be “very significant, very meaningful” for Mr. Abbas to make a statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day, Rabbi Schneier recalled in an interview, the president agreed “before I could finish my statement.”

“It was very heartfelt, very genuine,” Rabbi Schneier said.

“Of course he expressed his frustration on the negotiations, on the peace process — I’ll leave that up to the political leaders,” he added. “I’m a great believer that Muslim-Jewish reconciliation worldwide transcends the Israeli-Palestinian process. We’re working on the spiritual peace process.”

Mahmoud Abbas Shifts on Holocaust – NYTimes.com.

Anti-Semitism Comparative Statistics

Some good comparative stats on antisemitism by country:

On balance, it appears to me that more of these countries show declines than show increases. But that’s subject to statistical argument, and it doesn’t change the fact that the trends in Europe aren’t as clear as the trend in the U.S. As the Ukraine and U.N. cases illustrate, anti-Semitism is sometimes hyped or manufactured for political advantage. And in the U.S., the Kansas shooting is an outlier. But in some countries, the rate of anti-Semitic incidents is holding steady or even increasing. Each country is different.

The Canadian stats come from B’nai Brith.

Anti-Semitism in Europe: statistics from France, Germany, the U.K., and other countries.