The National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM) is the largest professional association for corporate environment, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability decision-makers. We are dedicated to empowering our members to advance environmental stewardship, create safe and healthy workplaces, and promote global sustainability.
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Key Practice Area - Global EHS - Strategies for Addressing Cultural Differences
Key Practice Area: Global EHS

Strategies for Addressing Cultural Differences

April 2011

Overcome language and cultural barriers with these peer-recommended strategies from NAEM’s "Managing Global EHS Programs” roundtables.

Overview

Communication is often a key challenge when dealing with international offices. In this section, you will find a discussion summary from NAEM’s "Managing Global EHS Programs” roundtable aimed at improving EHS leadership through cross-cultural knowledge and communication.

Discussion Notes

Discussion Notes: Strategies for Addressing Cultural Differences

Key Topics:

  • Global Cultural differences – Agreement but not compliance
  • International - Will agree to compliance but it doesn’t happen
  • International employee input – not used to having it and not part of the culture
  • Strong union mentality

Challenges Raised:

  • Different global culture perspectives
  • Communication issues – expect it to take twice as long to get through in countries where language is a barrier
  • Inability to perceive risks (cultural or experience)
  • Language barriers
  • Sense of urgency
  • Local consultants that understand the culture and the regulations
  • Value of human life

Solutions/Strategies Offered:

  • Constantly write it down. Communicate!
    • Set accountabilities and follow up on the completion
  • Build the relationships and the trust with key people in the organization
    • Connect personally. Get the feet on the shop floors.
  • Be a part of the solution – help them get things accomplished
    • Technical resources and advocate
  • Travel – take the time to meet face to face
    • Once the relationship is started, use tools and technology to maintain/build
  • Build/find the allies to help with the process
    • Build trust and work together

General Lessons Learned:

  • Communication is key.
  • No silver bullet – takes time and resources
  • Take the time to build the relationships.
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