Cultural Diversity at work

Written on January 19, 2007 by Max Oliva in Diversity

Celia de Anca, Director of the Centre for Diversity in Global Management
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On January 10th, at IE Business School in Madrid, ONA Foundation, Morocco and the IE Foundation, Madrid organized the second meeting of the ‘Cross-cultural Think Tank on Corporate Diversity ’ in a Spanish- Moroccan context.
The Cross-Cultural Think Tank on Corporate Diversity is a process designed to develop and implement innovative ideas for the analysis and understanding of corporate diversity, with a practical focus on the Hispano-Moroccan business context.
Hosted by Mr. Rafael Puyol Vice President of the IE Foundation and Mr. Rachid Slimi, President of the ONA Foundation, the think tank aims to adopt an integrating approach by bringing together a small group of key players from diverse cultural, geographic and professional backgrounds who can contribute to making a significant difference to the environments in which they operate.
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The think tank held last week in Madrid featured personalities from different academic disciplines including philosophy (Prof. Ali Benmakhllouf, Université de Nie Sophia-Antipolis, France); Antropology (Prof. Robert Rydell, Montana State University USA); Marketing (Prof. Bill Carney, IE Business School, Madrid); Intl Economics (Prof. Jose Collado, UNED, Spain); and finance (Prof. Eduardo Oliveira, IE Business School). The business world was also represented by Ms. Carmen Rodriguez, President, Expansion Exterior, Spain; Ms. Boutheyna Iraqi, President, AFEM (Association des femmes chefs d’entreprises du Maroc); Mr Bassim Jai Hokimi, President, Atlamed; and member of the board of directors of ONA /SNI Group Morocco. Important figures from the Media also lent their views to the discussion, including Ms. Nadia Salah, Editor in Chef, L’Economist Morocco, and Ms. Angeles Espinosa Middle East editor, EL País, Spain. Representatives of international institutions also contributed with their expertise in the field, including HIRH Archiduke George von Habsboug, Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Hungary and member of the International Advisory board of IE Business School, and Mr. Ramon Enciso, Coordinator of the Hispano-Moroccan Comité Averroes.

Prof. Nourreddine el Hashemi, Presidential Advisor of the Ona Foundation and Prof. Celia de Anca, Director of the Center for Diversity in Global Management at IE Business School, moderated the debate following the discussions of the first meeting held in Casablanca in December 2005.
As a result of the first Casablanca meeting, research on the perceptions and practices of cultural diversity in Moroccan organizations was conducted during 2006 by the ONA foundation.
The survey results were presented at the 2nd session in Madrid last week, which helped the experts to find practical new angles to some of the topics discussed during the first think tank (tradition and modernity, cultural models at work and women in management). The results of the survey also helped participants deal with practical aspects for integrating cultural diversity in Moroccan companies as well as for Spanish and international organizations going into morocco.
The survey results fuelled some new discussions on the perception of cultural diversity in Moroccan businesses, the positive effect of skilled immigration on corporate image and the need for executives to implement cultural diversity policies in their firms.
Conclusions drawn from the second meeting included the need to train for cultural diversity in a non-normative fashion, fostering a better awareness of each individual’s ‘personal cultural mode”, and a better ability to detect cultural elements in practical business practices.
The think tank experts will explore some of the reforms needed in the regular training curricula so as to include some diversity training fundamentals, at universities as well as in business schools and/or corporate training programmes.
During the meeting the experts drafted and approved a practical model to continue their work in systematic fashion with an emphasis on specific cultural behaviour and its practical implications for academia, the media, the business world and public policy.
The Academic Coordinators of the think tank will edit the discussions, and results of this second meeting for general distribution and will organize a new survey, this time among Spanish corporations in Morocco, to be conducted some time in 2007 and presented at the 3rd think tank meeting.
P.S. If you are interested in a further reading please see the minutes of the 1st cross-cultural think tank on corporate diversity at the Diversity Community.


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