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Building Cultural Intelligence with Trisha Carter


Unconscious bias – what do we know about it and what can we do about it?

Unconscious bias is a topic generating real interest.  Perhaps, we are interested because the idea of such bias is both frightening and reassuring.  Frightening because if it is unconscious, how are we to avoid it?  Reassuring because, at some level, we may perceive unconscious and unintended bias more preferable to intentional and conscious bias.   

So what do we know about it?

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Families Matter

Families matter.  Yours, mine – the families that make up our society – they all matter.

In the world of corporate global mobility families are often seen from a problem perspective.  

The 2015 Brookfield Global Mobility Survey reported, “‘Family concerns’ was the single most noted reason
 for assignment refusal. In addition, respondents
 cited it as the top reason for early assignment return and the third most commonly noted reason for assignment failure.”

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Benefits of Diversity

Surprisingly there are still many people in the business world who are not really open to welcoming a diverse group to the business table.

There’s no doubt that diversity can bring some challenges and that’s often where the conversation starts. But I’ve always hated the problem-oriented approach.  In this blog I want to focus on the benefits of a diverse group.

What can we gain if our organisations do what needs to be done to support and develop diversity?

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Communication – Aussie Slang

Language is central to communication and also to cultural identity.  

So it’s no surprise that we adapt our language with our culture.  In Australia the English spoken may be difficult for new arrivals to understand.  Accent, indistinct pronunciation, slang and diminutives can take some getting used to.

If you are expecting colourful metaphors and similes (“mad as a cut snake”, “flat out like a lizard drinking” “a face like a robber’s dog”) you may be disappointed if you are working in the business environment in Sydney or Melbourne. 

But listen out for Aussie abbreviations, which will be heard often.  This video covers many of them.


And if you are interested in improving your global communications skills take a look at our upcoming webinar.


Effective leaders in a global world

In a year that began with a major terrorist attack in January and ended with increasing numbers of horrific events in many cities around the world it could be tempting for us to pull back from the wider world.  To gather with those like us, to enjoy the comfort and perceived safety of familiarity.

The reality is, now more than ever; we need the benefits of a team drawn from different areas of the world.  We need people comfortable with languages, cultures and religious beliefs other than their own. 

We need leaders who can think broadly and creatively to take advantage of the opportunities and develop the solutions the global world needs.

We need leaders who can lead with wisdom, with compassion, with courage. 

We need leaders who value and appreciate diversity, instead of just tolerating it.

Even worse than just tolerating diverstiy there are still leaders who are uncomfortable with or afraid of diversity.

I’m not saying it’s easy. 

Our most natural responses, those ingrained within us, often lead us away from diversity towards uniformity.  The bias is unconscious.  But the evidence shows that we tend to feel greater trust and empathy toward people who are similar to ourselves, part of the same social circles.  We feel greater distrust and reduced empathy toward those who are perceived as dissimilar and members of other social groups.

Sadly the evidence also shows that knowing that research doesn’t lead to us changing our behaviours.  Awareness is practically useless.

Instead we need concrete strategies and steps to follow.  We need strategies that will be successful within the national, organisational and group cultures where we work.

We need leaders with cultural intelligence who can build culturally intelligent teams and develop effective strategies. 

The good news is we can do it.

This article was first published as part of Gihan Perera's e-book "Expect More from 2016" which you can download here