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In some cases, SMEs are reluctant to hire skilled immigrants due to barriers they may experience in the hiring process, such as differences in communication, perception, style and mannerisms.


There are a few steps to simplify this (perceived) complex area of cultural differences:

1.ACCEPT that there are cultural differences.

2.UNDERSTAND the differences and analyze why they are there (as much as possible), with some basic understanding of their existence / origin.

3.EMPATHIZE. As perceptions differ, so do thinking, style, communication, judgement and priorities based on values, customs, lifestyle and religion.

4.RESPECT. Show and express respect for other cultures and differences.

5.HARNESS the differences to the organization’s advantage. Welcome different perceptions. Be open to other views, ideas, thoughts and provide a reasonable opportunity to the other to perform in his/her own style (without compromising the systems and processes).

6.AVOID generalization and stereotyping. With some knowledge and understanding, there would be a tendency to stereotype and/or generalize every situation.


The Cultural Iceberg

Canada has a growing immigrant population and its labour market is continuously augmented by immigrant talent from different countries. Organizations increasingly rely on immigrant talent in order to survive and grow. Cultural differences are bound to exist in every multicultural environment. Individual culture has deep roots. This is reflected in the Iceberg Model of Culture below. What is visual is only a tip of the iceberg. It also provides some of the areas of cultural differences amongst people of different nationalities, backgrounds and regions.


Understanding Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Intelligence (CI) is a person’s capability to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity.

“Cultural intelligence is the ability to make oneself understood and the ability to create a fruitful collaboration in situations where cultural differences play a role.” - Elisabeth Plum - Kulturel Intelligens, Copenhagen 2007

CI involves the ability to act in an appropriate way in culturally sensitive situations. CI is a critical capability that enhances employee, manager, and organizational effectiveness. It also enhances interpersonal interactions in a wide range of social contexts. Cultural intelligence provides insights about individual capabilities to cope with culturally sensitive situations, engage in cross-cultural interactions, and perform in culturally diverse work groups.

Cultural Intelligence aims to provide new insight into the social skills and mental frameworks that enable us to bridge cultural differences. Our cultural backgrounds influence the way we think and act and the way we interpret each other's contributions. Our success or failure in communication depends on this competence and ultimately skill in this area affects the outcome and results.

Cultural Intelligence is a malleable: Cultural intelligence is not innate or fixed, but it can be learned and can change based on people's interactions, efforts, and experiences. One can enhance his or her level of Cultural Intelligence.

Cultural Intelligence is a specific individual difference capability: This is because it focuses on culturally relevant capabilities. Cultural Intelligence is more specific than general mental ability or personality.

Benefits of CI

Cultural Intelligence:

1.Enhances sensitivity to cultural differences
2.Reduces use of overly simplistic stereotypes
3.Enhances adjustment and relationships in culturally sensitive situations
4.Improves decision-making and work performance in multi-cultural contexts

The main benefits of understanding CI lie in three areas:

1.Knowing your own CI strengths and weaknesses
2.Identifying gaps and planning personal self-development
3.Knowing the CI strengths and weaknesses of others


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Research report

Immigrant Labour Market Integration in York Region and Toronto

Identifying Needs and Opportunities for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises

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