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Implementing a global marketing program without considering diversity, equity, and inclusion (in terms of your company’s culture as well as your target audience) is a recipe for failure.

Here’s why: You simply cannot expect to be successful on a global stage using a U.S.-centric lens that does not convey your understanding, appreciation, and inclusion of different cultures. A few examples come to mind, include:

English-Only Communication - Some of the biggest cultural issues we see come from companies that continue to do business only in English because they mistakenly believe English is the “global language.” This attitude negatively impacts the morale of employees who may work in a satellite office in a foreign country, as well as the impression of your brand with foreign customers. It feels very ethnocentric and gives the impression that your company doesn’t value their culture and language. If you don’t find a way to communicate effectively across languages and cultures, you push away your audience.

Hear more about this and other topics on The Global Marketing Show podcast “English is NOT the Global Language.” 

Not Embracing Cultural Differences - When you expect everybody in the company to adapt to the norms of the white American culture, rather than being open to accepting, appreciating and enjoying what you can learn from other cultures, you are essentially alienating your own employees as well as your customers.

Communicate clearly with ALL your employees,  no matter what language they speak. Read  The Language of Global Business – Managing a Multilingual Workforce.

One Communication Style - People in the U.S. tend to be very individualistic and direct. We focus and celebrate the individual and their accomplishments. When communicating, Americans get right to the point without taking the time to develop a relationship and rapport with their audience.

In other parts of the world, there is more of a collective society with group consensus. While things take longer to get done, the entire group has given their input. A true global marketing strategy will make sure that this is considered.

Different Perspectives on Business Hierarchies - In many parts of the world you would never question your boss. So, if you are working with somebody who comes from that type of culture, that person may not be comfortable questioning your direction or collaborating ideas with you. If they consider you a superior, they may just do exactly what you say, whether they think it is the right approach or not. This could create a lot of issues, especially if you are counting on their input.

global diversity and inclusionCulture Representatives - Never assume someone of a certain culture or group is speaking on behalf of everyone with a similar background. Saying things like, "Hey, you speak Spanish," or, "Hey, you're African American, what does your culture think about this?" is just like saying, “Hey, you're white, what do white people think about this?" Treat people as individuals who have their own viewpoint.

BIPOC Considerations - If you've got a BIPOC employee (black indigenous people of color), and they are getting promoted into management, there's a culture of acceptance and communication to see that there are paths for people to be successful, not stepped over all the time.

Image Diversity - If a man goes to your website to look for a job, a product, or a service, and all they see are white women, they’re not going to feel welcome. Make sure your images portray diversity and inclusion by featuring different types of people. And more importantly, make sure it’s not just for show. That the goal is to fully embrace a culture of diversity and inclusion, to pull in different people to your site and get different opinions.

Company Hiring Practices - Consider ways to make sure you are hiring a diverse workforce without unconscious bias. For example, one company implemented a technology-based assignment to gather the information they needed to fill a particular role, and another conducted interviews behind screens so they could focus on what the person was saying rather than what they looked like.

Employee Retention Policies - Are you offering employees the opportunity to celebrate holidays for their specific cultures? Are you rewarding people for things that they're doing? Do you have an objective way to promote and give raises? Are you finding ways to celebrate different cultures throughout the year? These are important things to think about and require more than a gut feel to make sure they are executed with equality and inclusion.

Read more about managing a diverse or global workforce in our blog: The Language of Global Business – Managing a Multilingual Workforce.

Benefits of Shifting Focus are Immeasurable

When you make diversity, equality, and inclusion a focus of your organization, you reap huge benefits:

  • More people to choose from in the hiring process. Companies that celebrate diversity have more job applicants than they can handle, get the cream of the crop of applicants, and even have become an employer of choice. Plus, their performance in all metrics, including revenue and bottom line, are way above their competitors. This is because they get to choose who they want to work for them and they get better ideas due to including a variety of experiences.
  • Better problem solving. Years ago Pepperidge Farm wondered, "How come Latinos never buy our cookies?" The Latino community responded with, "Well, you don't have our favorite flavor. We love strawberries." The company responded with a strawberry filled cookie, and guess what? The product sold off the shelves, particularly with Latino customers. 
  • Access to new markets and talent. Companies that are open to hiring LGBTQ, for example, do much better in those communities and have higher revenues as a result.

Read about a company that is thriving because of it's diversity and inclusion practices.

If you're doing global marketing, step back, take a look at yourself, make sure that you are hiring for diversity and you're making equitable and inclusive decisions, so people want to work for you. It'll only benefit you.


Rapport International specializes in multilingual communications, providing language translation and interpretation services that are accurate and culturally appropriate. We use the right voice, correct terminology to avoid liability, customize services to your needs, and deliver on time and within your budget. And with our 100% satisfaction guarantee, you can trust that it’s done right. Contact us today if you would like more information or to get a free quote.

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Categories: Multilingual Growth, Inclusion, Culture & Diversity

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