(Based on an interview with Angel Rampy for the San Francisco Examiner)
McDonald’s is one example of a company who has made great strides towards embracing a Cultural Intelligence (CQ) strategy. In addition to adapting its product offerings (lamb burgers in India, Miso soup in Japan, and wine as part of the menu in Europe), management has incorporated an extensive cultural training program for its employees both before and after they move to a new country. Once relocated, ex-patriot (“ex-pat”) managers are each assigned a cultural coach to help them acclimate effectively. However, the extent of cultural training for McDonalds employees is not the norm in corporate America. Only 30% of ex-pat managers receive some type of cultural sensitivity training before moving, and an even smaller percentage receive continued training once abroad. The consequence is a failure rate of up to 40% in developed countries and as high as 70% in developing countries that can cost companies anywhere from $40,000 to $1 million dollars plus lost time and missed opportunities. (http://www.harzing.com/download/failurerates.pdf)
Cultural Intelligence (CQ) goes well beyond cultural sensitivity training that may focus only on how to adhere to local customs in France or China. Instead CQ delves into the importance of learning to communicate effectively in a multi-cultural environment. CQ is essential for managers in Silicon Valley where a typical workforce will include people from India, China, Russia, as well as Americans of different color, race, and religion. CNNMoney recently examined five high tech companies (Cisco, Dell, eBay, Ingram Micro, Intel) to better understand workforce diversity in Silicon Valley. According to the study, 41 out of 225 officers are Asian and 10, 274 out of 24, 100 professionals are Asian at Cisco. At eBay, 10% of senior managers are Asian and almost 50% of the professionals are Asian. By gender this information shows that 4% of senior managers and less than 12% of professionals are Asian women at Cisco with smaller percentages of Asian woman in management roles at eBay. (http://money.cnn.com/interactive/technology/tech-diversity-data/) However, despite the multinational nature of the Valley, companies have been slow to jump on the CQ bandwagon. Corporate training may include some time spent on cultural sensitivity, but have yet to make the leap to understanding the importance of Cultural Intelligence.
CQ resources do exist for companies. David Livermore has written book entitled Leading with Cultural Intelligence: the New Secret to Success. (http://www.culturalq.com/aboutcq.html) In Silicon Valley, Angel Rampy is a Certified CQ consultant whose company, Success through Learning, enables individuals and companies become more effective by improving their CQ and communication skills. A native of the Philippines who is fluent in three languages, Ms. Rampy has experienced firsthand that in Silicon Valley a great education or work experience is not enough to succeed. Outstanding communication skills and knowledge of Silicon Valley “speak” and mannerisms can be the difference between a Director level and CEO career path. To help her clients achieve their career goals, Ms. Rampy introduces them to the four essential elements of Cultural Intelligence:
1. Drive: work with other cultures without a bias.
2. Knowledge: learn about and appreciate other cultures.
3. Strategy: develop a company-wide strategy to deal with a multi-cultural environment—especially important in Silicon Valley.
4. Action: create a strategic plan to integrate the cultural differences into a smoothly working corporate environment.
Cultural Intelligence is another secret to success in the polyglot world of Silicon Valley. In Ms. Rampy’s words:
We can no longer assume the stereotypes that “cultural” training provides us today as the ultimate definition of a culture. We need to assume a different understanding or process for working with others – moving away from the textbook approach to today’s reality of perpetual integration and re-invention. (www.coachangel.com)