Company Cultural Collisions & What To Do Next

Every few months it seems like we have another high profile corporate cultural collision.

And just like a car crash on the freeway, we slow down, check out the wreckage, wish the participants well, and go on our way.

But when we are involved in the accident, the crash is painful, expensive, and time consuming.

We can’t just get up and go on.

It’s much more than a traffic jam and silent prayer.

Recently companies like Sephora, Group, Gucci, H & M, Adidas, Dove, Starbucks have all apologized for racially/culturally insensitive practices and/or products.





What is true in all of these instances is that until there was external cultural outcry (customers being treated unfairly in grossly overt way, complaints from consumers, social media backlash, etc), there was little to no awareness of the lack of cultural intelligence that caused the collision in the first place.

And unlike the car industry that is coming up with new technology to make drivers more safe (hence things like distracted driving monitors), we keep having these cultural collisions in the corporate space.

But what if we could devise a system to better avoid the pain, expense, and inconvenience of cultural collisions?

3 Steps to Avoid Company Cultural Collisions:

  1. Be Proactive: Diversity and Inclusion strategy is more “post” than “pre” in most companies. Rather looking at strategic initiatives as a Haz Mat unit to clean up the latest mess, invest in cultural intelligence training, leadership development, and forecasting to plan for an amazing future.

  2. Enlarge the Circle: When examining many of the recent corporate collisions, in almost every case there wasn’t a diverse group of leaders at the table sharing ideas, perspectives, and insights before the product or process went public. Creating a mosaic group of influencers that can form a leadership coalition can give your organization a more vivid 360 degree company cultural vision.

  3. Check Your Work: Before sending product or process to market, bring your leadership coalition together in whole or in part for review. They can catch flaws, oversights, and missed steps that may have slipped through. This last step can be a game changer.

Some might read these steps and think, …we don’t have time or money to be quite that thorough”.

And while I do understand that line of reasoning, just remember that it’s a lot more time consuming, expensive, and inconvenient to deal with a cultural collision after it happens.

Avoidance saves from having to issue public statements, apologies, and overall company embarrassment and ridicule.

In short, avoiding cultural collisions is much better for business.

I’m sure the companies listed in the above links would most definitely agree.

Julian Newman