Cultural Anthropology – The Key to Understanding Diversity in Business

In this day and age of technology and business, personal contact has been crucial to rising above the competition. Such personal contact has not been limited to just within the 48 states either. With business and corporate ventures extending globally, our customer base has broadened worldwide. The faces of business have multiplied and with it, the need to embrace a new understanding of our diverse world – to understand the various cultures we will encounter without prejudice.

The skills we need no longer lie within the realm of computer chips and numbers. The edge of the business surviving in this modern day must come from a better comprehension of the societies around us.

Anthropology, or in this case, cultural anthropology, encourages us to view things differently than what we’re accustomed to. Face value is a superficial attitude to take and could lead to negative exchanges. Adopting an attitude of cultural relativism, we can interact more comfortably and effectively with the various groups. Ignorance can lead way to poor relations.

Granted, anthropology’s methods of observation might not be practical in the everyday working environment, its approach to interacting with a different culture and its attitudes could help us communicate better. Not all cultures act the same; a handshake here may not necessarily be a handshake in Europe. To say hello changes depending on structure and status in Japan in comparison to the United States. A better grasp of seeing without judging, being aware of the possibility of cultural differences, ensures a better business encounter no matter where or with whom you’re conducting your transactions.

Many corporations such as JP Morgan Chase and Waterworks actively seek to train their staff in understanding diversity. Large companies recognize the need to treat their customer base with a different attitude than of the eighties. The way of thinking parallels, if not, originates from the field of anthropology allows us to be able to accept and understand the various cultures. The workforce has ballooned to all walks of life and coming from all corners of the globe. Starting with education and college students, we need to be able to adapt, expand our horizons to accept what is before us otherwise the working environment could splinter. In this fragile state of the economy, a fractured workforce could disastrously lead to a downfall of a corporation’s productivity.