A Mixing of Cultures

Foreign directors who aren’t familiar with Australian culture can often struggle to fit into a board. There might be language difficulties and different ways of communicating, and behaving around a board table. “The Nordic cultures are very much around consensus building and everyone having the right to a say. The French and Italian are a bit more hierarchical and autocratic,” says Gupta. Helping a foreign director fit into a board begins with a good induction process, he says. Foreign directors won’t be aware of, or understand, the nuances of occupational health and safety, gender equality issues, pay equality issues. “If you come from a very hierarchical setting or culture, then making clear what the protocols are in an Australian context, as well as board protocols about speaking up, would be helpful in the induction.”

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