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The Importance of Cultural Humility in Global Business

In the pursuit of global expansion, organizations encounter both growth opportunities and cultural intricacies

As the world continues to become increasingly interconnected through trade and technology, many organizations are identifying opportunities to find new stakeholders and diversify their business by expanding operations globally. While providing exciting growth opportunities, going global also presents significant cultural challenges and executives must be mindful. Adopting a mindset of cultural humility is essential for successfully navigating different cultural norms, values, and business practices when working internationally.

Cultural humility involves maintaining an open, respectful attitude toward different cultures. It requires acknowledging that your own cultural perspective is not universal and being willing to learn from and adapt to the local cultural context. Practicing cultural humility is especially important when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.

DE&I issues are perceived very differently around the world. Policies and programs that seem logical and beneficial from a U.S. cultural standpoint may be confusing, inappropriate or even offensive in other countries. For example, terms like "Latinx" intended to be inclusive to folks who identify as Latin-American and beyond the gender binary in the United States are often seen as alienating in Latin American countries due to the linguistic "imposing" of the letter "x." Discussions about systemic racial inequity that make sense in the U.S. may not resonate in parts of Europe and Africa, where gender or women's inequality may be more relevant. For example, today in Belgium, gender inequality is one of the top issues in the national discussion.

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