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2 part question: Total 4 pages

Part 1:  

Share an example of unsuccessful intercultural or cross-cultural communication in your workplace. If you do not have a personal example, provide an example from a story that was in the news recently. Why was this communication unsuccessful? The entry must be at least 200 words in length. No references or citations are necessary. Attachment labeled business examples are to use with this part. 

Part 2:

All other attachments go with this part. The business to address is a credit union, financial institution. If possible address tattoos in the workplace through the diversity plan. 

 Designing Diversity

For this assignment, you will be writing a diversity plan for a specific business of your choice. Assume you are the Diversity Expert at this specific business. As the Diversity Expert, it is your responsibility to lead the business in its efforts to create a diverse workplace by crossing cultures through communication. Your intended audience for your plan is the Board of Directors. The following should be section headings within your plan:

  1. Overview of the Business
  2. Addressing Diversity in the Workplace
  3. Increasing Diversity in the Workplace
  4. Building Cross-Cultural Bridges Through Communication

Your plan should be at least three pages in length. APA Style will not be required for this assignment. 

3 Embarrassing Examples of Cross-Cultural
Business Failures

Maybe you’ve seen this scene before while on vacation. It usually goes something like
this: a frustrated tourist tries to communicate with a local that doesn’t speak a word of
English. The tourist, baffled by the lack of comprehension from the local, simply speaks
English LOUDER and sloooower. The same words are repeated, over and over again. Of
course, this doesn’t help with communication at all. Both the tourist and the local end up

Anthony Karge
Published Oct 10, 2018

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Anthony Karge

It’s a ridiculous but fairly common scene. As silly as these exchange are, similar
misunderstandings and miscommunication happen on a massive scale in the business
world. Some companies, lead by the best and brightest leaders, flush away billions of
dollars due to complete cross-cultural failures.

These following stories show why it’s critical to understand your customers and
business partners in other parts of the world. Failing to do so leads to disaster. These
examples go beyond mere mistranslations and insensitive advertisements. Rather, they
reveal deep-rooted flaws that stem from a profound lack of cross-cultural

Wal-Mart in Germany: A Company Culture That Didn’t Fit

Wal-Mart’s expansion in Germany was nothing short of a disaster. Almost a decade after
launching in Germany, Wal-Mart couldn’t find anyone willing to pay a cent for its
assets. Due to the high costs of laying off workers in Germany, Wal-Mart essentially
paid a competitor in 2006 to take over its real estate and employee liabilities.

How did Wal-Mart, who enjoyed so much success in the US, China, and other countries,
get to that point? By failing to understand the culture of their employees and their
customers. Here are a few places where Wal-Mart dropped the ball, according to my
German colleagues who shopped at the store.

Germans don’t like – or at least aren’t very used to – very friendly customer service.
Having a greeter at the entrance was unsettling. Having staff smile at customers was also
strange–some male shoppers thought female employees were flirting with them.

Team spirit is a big part of American Wal-Mart stores, with team members doing a
morning chant to motivate everyone for the rest of the day. Chanting in Germany is best
suited for soccer matches and nowhere else, so there were reports of employees hiding
in the bathroom in horror to avoid the morning chant.

Anthony Karge

Even in higher-end German grocery stores, it’s customary for shoppers to bag their own
groceries. No shopper wants somebody else touching their groceries after paying.
Having Wal-Mart cashiers bag the groceries themselves was considered a big no-no.

All those things came together to create an uncomfortable atmosphere for both
employees and customers. Of course, there were problems beyond the culture
misunderstandings. Wal-Mart simply wasn’t as competitive on pricing compared to
long-established German discounters like Aldi. Still, syncing with German culture
would have helped as they tried to build the brand within the country.

General Mills’ Cake Mix in Japan: A Breakdown in Market Research

General Mills was ready to succeed in Japan in the 1960s. Their line of pre-packaged
cake mixes was a huge hit in the US, where customers valued the convenience of
needing just water, eggs, and the mix to produce a cake. Surely, that convenience would
be appreciated by busy Japanese customers. Cake might not be as ingrained into
Japanese culture as in the US, but there still seemed to be a strong market opportunity.
What could go wrong?

The product launch was a complete failure, and it had nothing to do with whether
Japanese consumers liked cake or not. The reason for the failure was glaringly obvious
after the fact: just 3 percent of Japanese homes at the time had an oven. Realizing their
market research problem, General Mills repurposed the cake mix to work in the much
more common rice cookers. That never really caught on, so General Mills withdrew
their cake mixes from the market.

Fast Food in China: How McDonald’s Lost to KFC

No fast food company does international expansion as well as McDonald’s. Meanwhile,
competitor KFC always lagged behind the Golden Arches, especially in Asia. When
China opened up its borders to international companies in the late 1980s, it would have
been safe to bet that McDonald’s would continue its dominance.

Anthony Karge


That never happened, however. Today, McDonald’s has half the presence that KFC does
when it comes to total stores, while losing out to KFC in revenue per store and margin.
There are a number of reasons for KFC’s success, such as being first to the market,
building a strong supply chain, and deploying a more strategic expansion plan. However,
a big reason for KFC’s success is that it adapted to the local culture while McDonald’s
initially refused to cater to the tastes of Chinese customers.

McDonald’s had great success with its line of American-style burgers when expanded to
Japan and other Asian countries. They stubbornly decided to roll out the same line of
product that worked in nearby countries. The difference between those countries and
China is that the latter had no frame of reference for burgers. The country was closed of
for so long that burgers seemed too strange and fore. KFC, meanwhile, had the
advantage of offering fried chicken, which is a familiar food for people in China. They
also took active steps to localize their menus for the Chinese market, and their wildly
successful breakfast menu featuring staples like congee is a testament to their
localization efforts.

McDonald’s has since learned from its mistakes and and enjoys a strong position in
China’s fast food market. But due to their botched rollout, they’re still a lagging
competitor to KFC’s market position. A little localization goes a long way, especially
when it’s done correctly from the start.

Lessons Learned

Even the biggest budgets and past international success doesn’t guarantee future results
when breaking into a new market. A sense of a hubris, however, guarantees failure. As
McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and General Mills learned, it helps to have local experience and
a full understanding of the new markets.

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Anthony Karge

COM 2301, Professional Communication 1

Course Learning Outcomes for Unit III

Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

2. Develop communication strategies for various cross-cultural workplaces.
2.1 Develop a communication strategy for bridging cultural diversity in the workplace.

5. Analyze workplace situations for successful professional communication with diverse audiences.

5.1 Discuss inclusion and diversity in workplace communication.

6. Illustrate appropriate problem-solving skills for effective professional communication.
6.1 Describe tools to achieve successful intercultural or cross-cultural communication.


Learning Outcomes
Learning Activity


Unit Lesson
Article: “Small Businesses Can Commit to Diversity, Too”
Article: “Ethiopia: Communication in a Multicultural Country”
Unit III Assignment


Unit Lesson
Video: TEDTalks: Janet Stovall—How to Get Serious about Diversity and

Inclusion in the Workplace
Article: “We’re Talking About Racism. We Never Talked About This Before”
Unit III Assignment


Unit Lesson
Article: “Q&A: We Were Not Interested in Creating Programs, but More of a

Culture Change Strategy”
Article: “A Lifetime Work: Strategies for Successful Diversity, Equity, Inclusion”
Article: “The Need for Cross-Cultural Communication Instruction in U.S.

Business Communication Courses”
Unit III Assignment

Required Unit Resources

In order to access the following resources, click the links below.


The transcript for this video can be found by clicking the “Transcript” tab to the right of the video in the Films
on Demand database.

TED (Producer). (2018). TED Talks: Janet Stovall–How to get serious about diversity and inclusion in the

workplace [Video]. Films on Demand.


Abrams, R. (2021, January 14). Small businesses can commit to diversity, too. USA Today, 03B.


Intercultural/Cross-Cultural Communication
in a Global Workplace

COM 2301, Professional Communication 2


Agovino, T. (2020, Fall). ‘We’re talking about racism. We never talked about this before.’. HRMagazine, 65(3),
32. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A636516445/ITOF?u=oran95108&sid=bookmark-

Chandler, N. (Ed.). (2020, December 16). A lifetime work: Strategies for successful diversity, equity, inclusion.

New Orleans CityBusiness.

Minas, G. (2021, May 18). Ethiopia: Communication in a multicultural country. The Ethiopian Herald.


Smallwood, M. G. (2020). The need for cross-cultural communication instruction in U.S. business

communication courses. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 83(2), 133–152.

Weinstock, M. (2021, February 15). Q&A: We were not interested in creating programs, but more of a culture

change strategy. Modern Healthcare, 51(7).

Unit Lesson


In this unit, our focus is how we can successfully communicate across cultures as well as why the foundation
for diversity in the workplace is communication.

COM 2301, Professional Communication 3


Culture Defined

As the diagram above indicates, many factors define culture. Culture can comprise a person’s religion, race,
age, nationality, socio-economic status, education, generation, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and gender. All of
these factors can create noise, thus, creating conflict. Here are a few examples. One day your supervisor
introduces a new employee, and that new employee is the only male at your workplace. As a customer have
you ever felt ignored because of your race? How does your age cause noise when communicating with your
team leader who is significantly older or younger than you?

How can we communicate when all these cultural factors, in effect, stream static through communication
channels to prevent a clear message from reaching a receiver?

Cross-Cultural/Intercultural Communication Defined

Cross-cultural or intercultural communication can be challenging to define. The simplest definition is
communication between us and others unlike us. We may be from a different country, speak a different
language, or practice a different religion. This can create noise. Silencing the static of culture within our
communication begins with an understanding that culture is an engrained part of who we are—all factors that
define culture. How then can we separate these factors when we communicate? We cannot. What we can do
is learn how to communicate across cultures.

Communicating Across Cultures

Our previous units discussed communication tools that can be used to decrease conflict. Culture is a
noisemaker; thus, culture can and will cause conflict. The tools already learned can help us communicate
across cultures.

Let’s review these tools.

Active listening can be defined as paying attention, then asking questions.

COM 2301, Professional Communication 4


Perception checking includes active listening in its three-step process:

Step 1: Description: Description of noticed behavior
Step 2: Interpretation: Two possible interpretations of the noticed behavior
Step 3: Clarification: Asking a question

While these two tools are important to the communication process, they are not the only tools that can help us
build a bridge to communicate across cultures.

Empathy: A Bridge to Cross Cultures

Empathy, unlike sympathy, focuses on the understanding of each other’s feelings even if we do not share
those feelings. We often confuse these concepts and offer the message I’m sorry when we really mean to
say, I understand.

For example, your coworker is nervous because they are about to present a new training method. You are
not part of this presentation, so you do not feel nervous (what they feel), but you understand why your
coworker is nervous. Thus, your message to your coworker would be empathetic: I understand, not the
sympathetic, I’m sorry.

(Pressmaster, n.d.)

Successful communication across cultures also relies on empathy. One way to approach communication is to
think about communication across cultures as a network (Minas, 2021).

COM 2301, Professional Communication 5


If the network fails, then the message sent cannot cross a channel to the receiver and all communication
ends. Successfully networking across cultures relies on communication. Using tools such as active listening,
perception checking, and empathy will help us successfully communicate across cultures.

For example, imagine being introduced to a new coworker, Jackson. You notice that Jackson smiles but only
mumbles a shy “hello” and head nod. Your first impression is that Jackson may be another coworker who
hides in their office or the coworker who says nothing at meetings. With your busy work schedule and
projects, you decide to not take the time to formally introduce yourself to Jackson.

At lunch, you see Jackson smiling and laughing with another coworker as they speak together in a foreign
language. What if you applied perception checking and empathy before making a judgement about Jackson?
Perhaps Jackson’s shyness was first day on the job jitters as well as a language barrier? Could you have
understood Jackson’s jitters by remembering your first day on the job?

Diversity and Communication in the Workplace

A diverse workplace benefits the workplace and communication.

(Monkey Business Images, n.d.)

Communication can ensure a workplace’s success or failure; however, what if messages being sent come
from the same type of receiver? Feeling included in this workplace would be difficult. Whether you are the
only female, the only Latinx. African American, or Asian, or the only member of LGBTQ+ community, being
the only one of a specific culture within the dominant workplace culture can be challenging in and of itself.
Now, imagine being the only one and trying to communicate with the majority. Not having a cultural
connection in the workplace can stop communication before it can even begin.

Chandler (2020) suggests that diversity in the workplace means that employees see no obstacles in bringing
their full selves to work. Therefore, each employee feels included and respected. When we feel this way, our
communication across cultures grows.

Having a homogenous workplace may not only negatively impact its employees, but also negatively impact
the business itself. If customers or clients are unable to see themselves in the business’ identity, then they
may question if they belong or if they should continue to be customers or clients.

Abrams (2021) notes that a diverse workplace not only benefits the employees but also the company or
business. Customers and clients feel included when they see the company respect and welcome all cultures.
In turn, the company or business grows.

COM 2301, Professional Communication 6


Although workplace diversity is beneficial for the employees and the business itself, the challenge is how to
strive for and talk about diversity. Agovino (2020) suggests that recent current events have opened previously
closed communication doors. Agovina (2020) further suggests the death of George Floyd and the messages
of Black Lives Matter forced racism to now be openly discussed in the workplace. Moreover, listening to all
cultures’ stories will then lead to more understanding and empathy by the majority culture that can then lead
to more inclusion and diversity.

To learn more about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, watch the video TEDTalks: Janet Stovall—How
to Get Serious About Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace. The transcript for this video can be found by
clicking the “Transcript” tab to the right of the video in the Films on Demand database.

Listening, Critical Thinking, and Workplace Diversity

Three tools discussed in this unit all rely on listening. Active listening or paying attention and asking
questions; perception checking, where we must listen to describe the behavior as well as offer two possible
interpretations of the behavior; and empathy, where we cannot understand without having to first listen to the
messages being sent.

Listening is part of critical thinking. We must listen so that we can make logical and reasonable decisions—to
think critically. Yet, listening is often described as the most challenging communication skill and a skill not
often practiced. Try this activity to see how well you listen:

In one conversation, track the number of minutes where you are the receiver versus the number of
minutes you are the sender.

The results may be shocking as many of us value sending messages (or talking) versus receiving messages

If we take this value of talking versus listening to the workplace, diversity will be a struggle to achieve.
Majority voices may cause so much noise that the minority voices cannot be heard. However, some
companies are challenging their employees to think critically and listen to diverse voices. Weinstock (2021)
notes that programs, such as Courageous Conversations where dialogues, not debates, about diversity are
the goal, have created a magical coming together of cultures.

Diversity and Communication in a Global Workplace

Throughout this lesson you may have been thinking about communication in your own workplace as it relates
to culture and diversity. Your workplace environment may be a small local business, or you may work at a
state-wide U.S.-based company or even a multi-national corporation or in the military. Your hometown

COM 2301, Professional Communication 7


business may have a local brick-and-mortar base; however, the business sells their products nationally or
even world-wide. Today, because of technology, workplaces from small to large have become global.

Global workplaces have affected our communication. These effects may be as simple as learning a new word
(maybe lift instead of elevator), or these effects may be as challenging as learning an entirely new language
in order for all employees to feel included.

No matter the size or reach of your workplace, diversity exists. It is communication that ensures that this
diversity does not divide but joins us together so that we see the value in our workplace’s many cultures.


In Unit I, we established the fundamentals of communication and began putting our professional
communication puzzle together. In this unit, we continued building our puzzle by focusing on workplace
relationships including conflict causers, conflict resolution, and stress management. In Unit III, we added
another piece to our professional communication puzzle: crossing cultures.


Abrams, R. A. (2021, January 14). Small businesses can commit to diversity, too. USA Today, 03B.


Agovino, T. (2020, Fall). Companies try a new approach to diversity, equity and inclusion: Honest

conversations. HRMagazine, 65(3), 32.

Chandler, N. (Ed.). (2020, December 16). A lifetime work: Strategies for successful diversity, equity, inclusion.

New Orleans CityBusiness.

Minas, G. (2021, May 18). Ethiopia: Communication in a multicultural country. The Ethiopian Herald.


Monkey Business Images (n.d.). ID 5948708 [Photograph]. Dreamstime.


COM 2301, Professional Communication 8


Pressmaster. (n.d.). ID 101325793 [Photograph]. Dreamstime. https://www.dreamstime.com/support-

Weinstock, M. (2021, February 15). Q&A: We were not interested in creating programs, but more of a culture

change strategy. Modern Healthcare, 51(7).

  • Course Learning Outcomes for Unit III
  • Required Unit Resources
  • Unit Lesson
    • Overview
    • Culture Defined
    • Cross-Cultural/Intercultural Communication Defined
    • Communicating Across Cultures
    • Empathy: A Bridge to Cross Cultures
    • Diversity and Communication in the Workplace
    • Listening, Critical Thinking, and Workplace Diversity
    • Diversity and Communication in a Global Workplace
    • Summary
    • References