Category Archives: Cross-Cultural

Cultural Statistics

Limited English Proficient Population of the USA:

  • In 2011, there were 25.3 million Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals, both foreign-born and US-born, residing in the United States
  • Over the past 20 years, the LEP share of the total US population has grown from close to 6 percent in 1990 to about 9 percent in 2011
  • The total number of LEP individuals has grown by 81 percent since 1990
  • Although most LEP individuals are foreign born, a sizable share (about 19 percent, or 4.8 million) of this population is native born

Source: Migration Policy Institute (www.migrationinformation.org)

African Immigrants in the United States:

  • Almost half of the African foreign born in the United States have arrived since 2000.
  • The top countries of origin for African immigrants are Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, and Kenya.
  • From 2001 to 2010, African nationals accounted for 28.4 percent of refugee arrivals and 21.2 percent of persons granted asylum.
  • Over one-third of all African immigrants reside in New York, California, Texas, and Maryland.

Source: Migration Policy Institute (www.migrationinformation.org)

Gay Marriage Around the World
Countries that allow gay marriage: Argentina (2010), Belgium (2003), Brazil (2013), Canada (2005), Denmark (2012), England/Wales (2013), France (2013), Iceland (2010), The Netherlands (2000), New Zealand (2013), Norway (2009), Portugal (2010), South Africa (2006), Spain (2005), Sweden (2009), Uruguay (2013)

Countries where some jurisdictions allow gay marriage: Mexico (2009), USA (2003)

Source: Pew Research Forum (http://www.pewforum.org)

Generational Quick Tip: Work Environment

Each generation brings a unique cultural background to the workplace that impacts the type of work environment they prefer. These preferences may be impacted by their views on authority, informality/formality, leadership, etc. The Baby-Boomers desire a “flat” organizational hierarchy where a democratic approach to feedback and opportunity is desired, which is different from their Traditionalist predecessors, who preferred hierarchical organizations and chain-of-command. Baby-Boomers also want to create a warm and friendly atmosphere, though do not confuse the  Boomers friendliness with informality, as they stick to more traditional views on formality in communication and dress. Both Gen X and Gen Y agree that the workplace should be a positive, fun, and informal environment. Gen X greatly values efficient and fast-paced environments, where there is easy access to information and ability to work independently. Gen Y enjoys diverse and highly creative work environments that provide many opportunities for collaboration and advancement through training and learning.

Action Step:
Ask a colleague what aspect of their current work environment is most important to them in regard to getting their work done quickly and efficiently.

Significant Events of a Generation: Baby Boomer – The Vietnam War and Draft

“Hell no, we won’t go!”: a common slogan for the anti-Vietnam War movement

The Vietnam War occurred from November 1, 1955 – April 30, 1975 and took place in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. On one side of the war was the Vietnam People’s Army (Viet Minh) of North Vietnam backed by communist China and supported in South Vietnam by the guerrilla efforts of the communist Viet Cong. The opposing allies of the war were composed of the Republic of Vietnam (the democratic government of Southern Vietnam) France and the United States. The United States joined the war to prevent communist takeover in South Vietnam because they believed it would lead to the communism throughout the region, a strategy known as containment.

In 1955, President Eisenhower deployed the first American troops for military assistance to South Vietnam. The deployment was in response to North Vietnam ignoring the 1954 Geneva Conference decision to hold national elections in 1956 for the reunification of Vietnam. Instead the Viet Minh began training and mobilizing troops to overtake Southern Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Over the course of 20 years, the war would claim the lives of almost 2 million Vietnamese on both sides of the war including heavy civilian losses.

During the war, over 58,209 American soldiers were killed and 303,704 were wounded. At the time, the Baby-Boomer generation was entering young adulthood and many of the young men born between 1944-1956 faced the threat of being drafted into the war. Officially, the draft of the Vietnam era lasted from 1969-1973 and was from a pool of approximately 27 million young men. The draft raised 2,215,000 men for military service (in the U.S., Vietnam, West Germany, and elsewhere) during the Vietnam era.

The draft also raised widespread anti-war movements across the United States, particularly after people became aware of the failure of the 1968 Tet Offensive. College campuses and major cities such as New York, Washington D.C., Oakland, and Berkeley exploded with protest movements. Selective Services reported that a total of 206,000 persons were reported as conscientious objectors or delinquent for dodging the draft. The number of draft resisters was so great, that they eventually outnumbered the actual draftees, rendering the draft ineffectual.

During the early 1970s-1975, the Nixon administration sought means to end American involvement in the war due to the rising anti-war tension of Americans at home and at war. His administration adopted a policy of Vietnamization, the process of training Southern Vietnamese forces and aiding them with fire power, as well as beginning peace talks with North Korea.  Despite protests by South Korea, the last American troops pulled out of Vietnam by 1974 and on April 30, 1975, the capital of South Korea, Saigon, fell to North Korea. In 1977 after the war, President Carter granted general amnesty to all those men charged with dodging the draft.

Whats Currently Trending With Gen Y

MSN Now
MSN Now is a wonderful site that is real-time tracking of trends on the internet at they occur. The site, which acts like a super-search engine across all the major social media platforms and search engines, compiles a list of updates that automatically updates in real-time as trends occur. The Biggest Movers section gives up to the minute accounts of what the top ten search keywords that are trending. If you want to be in the know in real-time, MSN Now is a great site for tracking the internet’s activity.

Mary Kay Virtual Makeover App
Gen Y loves to be able to customize the looks of friends and celebrities (Beyonce is a favorite) with endless combinations of eye makeup, lip colors, hairstyles, hair colors, accessories and more. Users of this free app can choose a photo from their library, take a picture from their mobile device or select from a variety of models. Gen Y particularly loves sharing their new looks with friends on facebook and twitter.

Cultural Quick Tip: Tell Stories to Build Strong Communities

Across the globe, cave drawings thousands of years old have preserved the remnants of ancient civilizations. While the drawings may be scattered over great distances and originate from different cultures, they all have one aspect in common: they tell stories.  The drawings recount stories about successes, hunts, trials and daily life. Storytelling is at the heart of what makes us human and is a universal tool used by groups of people to explain who they are and the experiences that shaped their history. While we might not use cave drawings anymore, we still use storytelling to capture collective histories and lessons learned. On our work teams, we use stories of past successes and failures to improve our current and future work plans and also to strengthen our sense of community. As work teams become more diverse, the team’s stories will evolve to include new perspectives.

Action Step:
Share team and company stories with new employees to help them get adjusted more quickly and to feel like a welcome addition to the group.

Cultural Quick Tip: Assess Your Communication Style

The alphorn is a musical instrument that originated in the Alps and was used as a European communication system. It was developed in response to the natural geographic barriers that inhibited communication between the small villages scattered throughout the Alpine valleys and hillsides. Hundreds of years ago when it was created, the alphorn was a cutting edge innovation that fostered greater communication across longer distances. While outdated today, the Swiss still learn and play the alphorn for music and as a form of maintaining their cultural traditions. Just as technologies for communicating across distance have evolved, so have communication techniques between people. When communicating with others, particularly people from other countries, it is important to recognize when your communication style has become outdated and when it is time to upgrade to a new technique.

Action Step:
Assess which communication method would be the most effective for your intended audience before communicating.

Cultural Statistics

Percent of People Speaking Languages In Massachusetts in 2010

  • English – 78.9%
  • Spanish – 35.6%
  • Portuguese – 14.1%
  • French – 5.2%
  • Chinese – 5.2%
  • French Creole – 4.2%
  • Italian – 3.4%
  • Russian – 2.9%
  • Vietnamese – 2.7%
  • Greek – 1.9%

Source: American Community Survey

Marriage in the US:

  • In 2010 15% of all new marriages were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another
  • In 1980 6.7% of all new marriages were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another
  • Among all newlyweds in 2010, 9% of whites, 17% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 28% of Asians married outside their race or ethnicity
  • Between 2008 and 2010 22% of all newlyweds in Western states married someone of a different race or ethnicity, compared with 14% in the South, 13% in the Northeast and 11% in the Midwest

Source: Pew Social Trends (www.pewsocialtrends.org)

Immigration Trends Around the World in 2010:

  • There were an estimated 216 million immigrants – people who live outside their country of origin
  • Europe had the most immigrants with approximately 70 million
  • North America was second with approximately 45 million immigrants
  • The most popular destinations for immigrants were the US, followed  by Russia and then Germany
  • Mexico had the most people who migrated to another country, with almost 12 million people leaving Mexico

Source: International Organization
for Migration (www.iom.int)

Generational Quick Tip: Working Hours

Each generation has very different views on the number of hours that should be put in at work and what the amount of time-spent working says about your work value, ethics, and productivity. Baby-Boomers invented the 60-hour workweek and many of their generation believe that working long hours and clocking time at the office is a right of passage that establishes experience, self-worth, and career fulfillment.  As baby-boomers are getting closer to the age of retirement, many of this generation are revising the attitude towards work-hours to include flexibility and work-life balance.  Generation X greatly values work-life balance and the ability to spend more time doing things outside of work. They believe that working smarter, efficiently, and with greater output means that you do not need to spend over 40-hours to achieve quality results. Generation Y also believes in flexibility and work-life balance. They believe strongly that work should be evaluated on work-product – not how, where, and when the work gets completed.

Action Step:
Try not to judge colleagues and employees based off of the amount of time they spend at their desk, but look instead at the value of their work.

Generational Quick Tip: Learning Opportunities and Training

Each generation brings different attitudes towards training and learning opportunities in the workplace. Traditionalists will engage in training if it is clear how the training contributes to the organization’s goals, even if they do not see the personal benefit to their career. Baby-Boomers also want to understand how the training will improve big picture operations at the corporation, but they need to be convinced that training will reap personal rewards, such as career advancement. As the individualists of the company, Generation X is not motivated by the benefits training will have on the company; they see training as an investment in their future and an opportunity to make personal advancements. For Generation Y, who may have only been out of college for a couple of years, training offers an exciting learning opportunity! GenYs love a classroom setting and any opportunity to learn; they are also very ambitious and are looking a competitive edge to place them above their peers. It is important to understand how each generation views training opportunities, so companies can effectively market training opportunities that appeal to employees of all ages.

Action Step:
Clearly state the benefit-case for the company, as well as the benefit-case for the individual, when informing employees about available learning opportunities.

Cultural Quick Tip: Understand Your Expertise

The average margin of victory in a Formula One race is 10 seconds, thus victory is dependent on every second spent on the track. During a pit stop when all four tires are changed, the pit crew must exercise over 50 maneuvers  in an average of 7 seconds. Many Formula One races are won or lost by the pit crew’s speed, skill, and execution. Successful collboration on the track or in an office requires a team with diverse roles and skills working in concert. Diverse teams with members from different backgrounds will offer an even greater variety of expertise and personalities. While it may take an increased amount of respect and awareness to work in concert, the team has a greater potential for victory.

Action Step:
Understand the expertise you bring to the team and commit to performing your role with confidence and skill.

Cultural Quick Tip: Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Communication

When new parents first bring home their baby, they are faced with many new communication challenges as they try to understand and meet the needs of their newborn. Without verbal communication parents must rely upon observable types of communication in the form of facial expressions, cries and body movements. Parents have a vested interest in learning to decode their child’s nonverbal communication, as it will help them to raise a healthy and happy baby. While your colleagues in the workplace communicate both verbally and non-verbally, understanding how to interpret their nonverbal communication can be a great advantage. Keep in mind that the meaning behind body language and facial expressions may vary from culture to culture, so it is always good to check for understanding.

Action Step:
Research communication etiquette from other cultures to aid your understanding when communicating with people from outside your country or culture.

Generational Quick Tip: Generational Motivation

Each generation is inspired by different values and incentives in the workplace that encourage them to work productively and enthusiastically. Traditionalists are motivated by being respected and told that their experience and contributions matter to the company. They are also motivated by the promise of job security.  Baby-boomers appreciate being told that they are of value to a company and that their skills are needed in order for the company to be successful. They are also motivated by the opportunity to earn high wages, raises, promotions, and benefits. Getting time off and the freedom to complete tasks and projects independently without micro-management or strenuous rules, motivates Generation X. Generation Y is inspired by training opportunities, working in dynamic groups, and flexibility in scheduling. They greatly appreciate time-off, as well as opportunities to volunteer and give back to the community. Understanding how to motivate employees from different generations is important in successfully hiring new employees, improving retention rates, and increasing overall productivity.

Action Step
If you are a manager, at your next check-in with your employees ask questions to assess their current motivation level.  Investigate if there is anything that you can adjust in order to connect the employee with a cause that motivates them and helps them to do their best work.

Significant People of a Generation: Gen X – Michael Jackson

   “Think about the generations and to say we want to make it a better world for our children and our children’s children. So that they know it’s a better world for them; and think if they can make it a better place.”  Intro lyrics to “Heal the World” from Jackson’s 1991 album Dangerous

Michael Jackson is an American music icon, who rose to unbelievable fame during the 1980s. Know as the “King of Pop,” Jackson was an inspiration to people of many races and generations, but particularly to the Gen X generation, who were coming of age during the height of his career. If Generation X was the MTV generation, Michael Jackson is accredited as being the first artist to use the music video genre to break racial barriers and produce a stylized art form.

Michael Jackson was born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana. He was the eighth child out of ten children: Maureen “Rebbie,” Sigmund “Jackie,” Toriano “Tito,” Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Brandon, Michael, Steven “Randy,” and Janet. The Jacksons were a working-class family, sharing a three-bedroom house. In 1964, Michael, Marlon, Jackie, Tito and Jermaine formed a band called the “Jackson Brothers” later called the “ The Jackson 5.” Their father, Joseph, was known for using abusive and brutal tactics during rehearsals. Later in life, Jackson attributed many of his psychological issues to the abuse he received as a child, but he also argued that his father’s strict discipline contributed greatly to his success.

At the age of eight, Michael Jackson began to share the lead vocals with his brother Jermaine. In 1966, the “Jackson 5” won a major talent contest in the Mid-West and recorded several songs for the local Steeltown label in 1967, followed by a contract with Motown Records in 1968.  The group set a record when their first four singles (“I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There”) all skyrocketed to number one. As lead vocalist, Michael was praised as being a prodigy and his charismatic and magnetic personality on stage made him a nationwide star.

In 1975, the Jackson 5 left Motown and Michael separated to pursue a solo career. In 1978, he partnered up with songwriter Quincy Jones, a musical collaboration that would last for the rest of Jackson’s life. Together they produced several albums that skyrocketed Michael Jackson’s into the position of pop superstar. Off the Wall, their first album recorded in 1979, included contributions from famous artists such as Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney and won Jackson three awards at the AMAs. In 1982, his album Thriller was released, and quickly became the best-selling album of all time, selling 42.3 million copies. The album included such hits as “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Thriller,” and “P.Y.T” and earned Jackson seven Grammys and eight AMAs. The music video for Thriller was the first and only music video ever to be inducted into the National Film Registry.

In 1983, Michael Jackson performed at the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever TV special. The legendary performance debuted Jackson in the iconic sequined black jacket, single rhinestone glove, and introduced his moonwalk dance move to the world.  The impact of the performance has been compared to the Beatles performance on the Ed Sullivan show.  Michael Jackson was famous not only for his catchy songs and singing voice, but also for being one of the most talented dancers, choreographers, and overall performers of all time. Many considered Michael Jackson’s music videos and stage productions to be works of art.

As well as becoming a superstar during the 1980s, Michael Jackson devoted much of his influence to philanthropic causes. He donated $1.5 million to the creation of the “Michael Jackson Burn Center” in Culver City, California, after a pyrotechnics accident left him with second-degree burns on his scalp. In 1985, Jackson and Lionel Richie released “We Are the World,” a charity single created to raise awareness and money for people suffering from poverty in the U.S. and Africa.  Other songs, such as “Man in the Mirror” 1988, “Heal the World” 1991, and “Black or White” 1991 are examples of Michael Jackson’s inspirational musical contributions towards social equality and change.  In 1992, Michael Jackson founded the Heal the World Foundation, which donated millions of dollars to help children in poverty around the world. He was also one of the first major celebrities and public figure to speak about AIDs/HIV and to publicly promote charities and research in a time when the stigma surrounding the topic was very controversial.

Along with his great musical and philanthropic successes, Michael Jackson suffered many personal controversies towards the end of his career. Rumors and speculations about his bizarre private life, plastic surgery, and skin color, painted Jackson as mentally unstable. Allegations of pedophilia arose during the 90s, and reemerged in the 2003 People vs. Jackson trial, which found Jackson unanimously not-guilty on all counts. However, despite his health issues and unfavorable public image, Jackson planned on completing his final world tour This is It in 2009. The concert had record-breaking ticket sales, selling over one million tickets in less than two hours.  However, on June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson died suddenly of cardiac arrest in his bed in a rented mansion in L.A.

When news of Michael Jackson’s death surfaced, the immediate response of fans and media worldwide was monumental. The overload of simultaneous website searches resulted in crashes for major media sources such as twitter, Wikipedia, TMZ, and the LA Times. News coverage lasted for weeks, tribute concerts popped up all over the world, and over 31 million people tuned in to watch Jackson’s memorial service. Posthumously in 2009, Jackson became the best-selling album artist and was the first artist to sell over 1 million song downloads in a week.

Over his career, he was awarded the World Music Award’s Best-Selling Pop Male Artist of the Millennium, 13 Grammy Awards (as well as the Grammy Legend and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards), and has earned 31 Guinness World Records. Many fans and critics believe that Jackson was a genius and one of the most influential artists of all time. For the Gen X generation that witnessed his amazing accomplishments and listened to his messages of hope, he was a beloved and mysterious icon, linked intrinsically with their coming-of-age.

Generational Quick Tip: Taking Risks

Whether or not a generation is prone to taking risks is a part of their cultural filter.  Being an “intrapreneur” means being an employee who brings an entrepreneurial spirit to a company and is not afraid to spend time working on “risky” projects: exploring uncharted territory and taking on challenging projects outside their area of expertise. But how does each of generation stack up when it comes to viewing themselves as entrepreneurs? According to a recent study, 45% of Baby-boomers believe that they have an entrepreneurial spirit are willing to take risks, while 42% of the Gen X generation feels they are entrepreneurial. However, only 32% of Gen Y identifies as being entrepreneurial.

Action Step:
To foster “intrapreneurial” drive in your company, create mentoring pairs between Baby-boomers or Gen X with a Gen Y colleague to help Gen Y increase the confidence in their entrepreneurial spirit and to bring a fresh perspective on projects.

Diversity Statistics

  • As of 2010, the most diverse communities in the US are disproportionately western, southern and coastal metropolitan areas and their principal cities and suburbs.
  • In 1900, only 1 in 8 residents of the US claimed non-European origins. Today 3 in 10 do.
    Source: 2010 Census

Growth of the Hispanic Population by County from 2000 to 2010
Top 5 Counties:
1) Stewart County, GA            1740%
2) Telfair Country, GA            842%
3) Beadle County, SD              762%
4) Adams Country, MS             687%
5) Trempealeau County, WI    594%
Source: Pew Hispanic Center analysis
of Decennial Censuses

Latinos are the nation’s biggest and youngest minority group.  They make up:

  • 16% of the total US population
  • 18% of all 16- to 25-year-olds
  • 20% of all school age children
  • 25% of newborns

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

2010 Census Demographics

  • 308.7 million US residents
  • 16% of US population Hispanic
(50.5 million)
  • Hispanic population grew by 43% from 2000 to 2010
  • White non-Hispanic population
grew by 1% from 2000 to 2010
  • 97% of people reported belonging
to only one race72% White alone (223.6 million)
  • 72% White alone
(223.6 million)
  • 13% Black or African-American alone
(38.9 million)
  • 5% Asian alone (14.7 million)
  •   0.9% American Indian and Alaska Native alone
(2.9 million)
  • 0.2% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone (500,000)

Source: US Census