Culture at Work: The Value of Intercultural Skills in the Workplace

Global economic realities are driving constant change in the workplace, leading to significant shifts in employers’ needs and expectations. In addition to traditional qualifications, employers are now seeking candidates who have the skills to transcend national and cultural borders and interact effectively with individuals and organizations from countries and cultures that are not their own.

To understand how companies are defining intercultural skills and why they are valued so highly, Ipsos Public Affairs, Booz Allen Hamilton and the British Council conducted a survey of HR strategists at 367 large employers across nine countries: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Jordan, South Africa, the UAE, the UK, and the US.

The study found that employers define intercultural skills as being respectful, multilingual, flexible, understanding and accepting cultural differences, being able to work in diverse teams, and being open to new ideas. Employers value these skills so highly because they allow for effective communication, bringing in and building trust with new clients, and keeping teams running efficiently. They identify significant business risks in employees not having good intercultural skills.

Though many employers do not actively screen for intercultural skills, they do view international experiences as being indicative of such skills. Many employers believe that the educational institutions in their country need to better develop these skills in the future workforce.

The report can be found here.