Managing Cultural Risks

Get expert support to minimise cultural risks and maximise cultural dividends

All programs tailored to your context

UGM Cultural Competence Programs

Cultural Diversity at Work

For managers and team leaders

Getting Ahead at Work

For culturally diverse employees

Women in Leadership

Different programs, customised for women

Inclusive Leadership

Leadership for inclusive cultures

Cultural risk mitigation via cultural competence

cultural dividend or cultural downside

Organisations lacking in cultural competence at risk of cultural downsides and few cultural dividends

Australia needs cultural risk mitigation because it is one of the most culturally diverse societies. One in two Australians was born overseas or has a parent who was born elsewhere, and census data reveals more than 300 different ethnic groups.

The reality of today’s Australia is that you will most likely have to work with colleagues whose cultural background might be significantly different from yours. Without knowledge and skills, you could find this a challenge. Each person may try to do what they intuitively feel is appropriate. But, because they may be drawing on different cultural assumptions and expectations about how to behave, they can end up feeling at cross-purposes. These diverging interpretive frames can produce frustration, resentment and negative evaluations on all sides. The trouble is management techniques developed for the relatively homogeneous workforce of the past generally fail to deliver positive results today.

As well, the typical strategic and technical challenges faced by organisations globally are becoming more demanding. So, when these complex challenges must also be tackled in the presence of significant cultural differences, leaders need cultural competence if they are to avoid failure. Poor levels of cultural competence trigger a downward spiral, eroding trust and jeopardising results. Culturally competent leaders, organisations and governments are resilient in the face of the complicated challenges that come their way. They are well placed to manage potential cultural downsides and ensure, instead that they benefit from any dividends that cultural diversity makes available in their context.

When complex challenges must also be tackled in the presence of significant cultural differences, leaders need cultural competence if they are to avoid failure. Poor levels of cultural competence trigger a downward spiral, eroding trust and jeopardising results.”

Source: UGM and various recent studies

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Criteria Our Clients Value

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Cultural Diversity at Work

This program is suited to:

  • Team leaders in Australian organisations, most of whom are likely working with colleagues from a variety of different cultural backgrounds.
  • Managers who are accountable for outcomes derived from the efforts employees, quite probably from a range of cultural backgrounds .
  • Senior managers and executives who are seeking to maximise ‘cultural dividends’ that can arise from a culturally diverse workforce if appropriately managed, while minimising the cultural downsides that can befall the naive or unprepared (senior managers and executives cover this material at a higher level and faster pace).

Program Benefits

  • Practical skills that will enable you be a more effective manager in a culturally diverse organisation.
  • Fresh insights about how cultural background affects thinking, communicating and behaving at work.
  • An opportunity to develop new perspectives around the influence of your own cultural background on your management style.
  • Frameworks and tools to help you maximise the value of different perspectives to deliver innovation and high quality outcomes.
  • An action plan so that you can implement what you’ve learned straightaway with your team

Interactive mini-module modules

Identify own preference and biases

Identify the preferences and biases associated with your own upbringing and background and leverage these to support your role

Recognise culture-based assumption

Recognise the culture-based assumptions and expectations that may influence your management style

Explore norms and mindsets of multi-cultural teams

Explore the wide range of norms and ways of thinking culturally diverse team members can bring to their work

Explore different communication styles

Explore different communication styles and apply these insights to improve how you lead and manage at work.

Learn about different management styles

Learn how the management practice (and doing business generally) is significantly impacted by cultural influences.

Practise cultural skills

Practise the cultural skills that will help you be an outstanding manager of high-performing teams in today’s culturally diverse workplace


Getting Ahead at Work

For Culturally Diverse Employees

  • Well-qualified employees whose first language is not English are often under-represented in more senior roles, despite their talent. From an organisational perspective, economists estimate that some $6 billion is wasted annually due to under-utilisation of migrant talent, as a result of insufficient cultural insight and skills. Consequently, there can be many invisible barriers blocking advancement. Some are the responsibility of the organisation to dismantle. But this is generally not enough and frustration persists. Organisations wishing to build an inclusive culture are committed to helping all employees get ahead, whatever their background. The aim is to ensure everyone can contribute to their full potential.

Program Benefits

  • A proven and practical module that helps you to succeed in your chosen profession in Australia,
  • A chance to focus on the particular skills you need to influence successfully and get ahead in your career.
  • A set of frameworks and tools that will enable you to communicate effectively with colleagues at all levels.
  • An opportunity to practise your new skills so that you can implement them with confidence straightaway.
  • A powerful action plan that will help you take exciting next steps in your career.

Interactive mini-module modules

Identify ways to influence stakeholders

Identify the most effective techniques for influencing your stakeholders in positive ways.

Decode norms of communicating

Decode the norms of communicating, relating and behaving that characterise the Australian professional workplace.

Discover ‘hidden’ success rules and use them

Discover the ‘hidden’ rules of success and apply them to consistently create the impression you want.

Recognise strengths of your background

Recognise the strengths of your background and learn how to leverage them in your current context.

Develop practical skills for managing teamwork

Develop practical skills for managing everyday teamwork and meetings in ways that display your talent and show your leadership.


Women in Leadership

These programs are suited to:

  • Groups of early career people who are motivated to take a closer look at aspects that have a proven impact on career progression.
  • Groups of mid-career leaders who would like to build a strong foundation but who may not have had many formal career development opportunities
  • Groups of mid-career people who may be satisfied with their current level, but nevertheless keen on broadening their perspectives and sharpening skills that positively impact their effectiveness and their career
  • Groups of women from across the organisation, regardless of their level of seniority or service.

Program Benefits

  • Focus on providing various groups of women in your organisation with leadership and management development – especially useful where commitments have been made to improve gender equity
  • Lift raw numbers of women participating in leadership and management development experiences
  • Support women in your business with skills and tools that better position them for promotion opportunities
  • Create a strong informal network of capable, motivated women who are committed to collaborating with colleagues for the benefit of both the business and parties involved

Programs / modules available

Steps to Career Success

Fresh ideas and proven tools that can be adapted for use at all levels to turbo charge your career and help you create the career you want.

Inclusive Leadership

A leadership program that focuses on behaviours, skills and mindsets that build inclusive organisations and teams, where people want to contribute and belong.

Getting to the C-Suite

A practical, results orientated leadership program for senior managers and executives, using leading-edge research and proven framework/tools.

Custom Modules

Create a leadership /management program, or one-off modules focusing on a particular identified need, that fits with the unique context of your business.


Inclusive Leadership Module

This module is suited to:

  • Team leaders and managers responsible for working with others to achieve specific business outcomes.
  • Project leaders/managers who are accountable for the outcomes of specific projects where they don’t have a permanent team of their own but must, nevertheless, still achieve outcomes through other people.
  • Middle managers whose role it is to manage a number of different groups working on projects within their scope of accountability.
  • Senior managers and executives who have responsibility for large projects, divisions /directorates or functional areas.

Module Benefits

  • Understand how to identify opportunities for inclusion, and how some traditional practices may have the opposite effect.
  • Recognise how contributing and belonging are two powerful drivers that serve the interest of both your people and your business.
  • Learn how to make meetings, most frequently where business is done, more inclusive.
  • Build skills that allow you to disagree without being disagreeable while encouraging diversity of thinking and promoting innovation.

Indicative mini-modules (interactive)

Opportunities to contribute

Explore what the culture, values and practices your organisation state (expressly or implicitly) about inclusion (and exclusion).

Contributing and belonging

Use UGM’s powerful contributing-belonging model to recognise the fundamental outcomes that individuals and businesses seek.

Make meetings more inclusive

Learn tools and techniques that will make your meetings (from one-on-one to full ‘team’) more inclusive and more productive.

Disagree without being disagreeable

Harness the great business value offered by disagreement, without being disagreeable, using specific behaviours, skills and techniques.

Cultural competence briefings from the UGM archive

WE HAVE Answers

Ask Us Anything About Cultural Competence

Cultural intelligence is the ability to be effective in culturally complex contexts at home or internationally. A culturally intelligent person has the mindsets and skills that enable them to bridge the gaps among different cultures’ ways of thinking and behaving.

There are three main elements of cultural intelligence: attitude; knowledge and skills. The first concerns developing an appropriate mindset. For example, do you view differences with or openness and curiosity? The second is cognitive. Do you know enough about the various cultures you work with to be able to understand their priorities and preferences? The third is behavioural. Are you able to adjust your typical ways of doing things to achieve your goals in a culturally complex context?

Listening is a great example of a cultural skill. In Western countries, there is a focus on speaking at the expense of listening. This often means we are poor listeners. Poor listening contributes to information loss and misunderstanding. Good listening supports inclusion and a sense of belonging.

One important skill relevant to thinking about Australia’s trade relations with China is learning how to manage the complexities of face. Face concerns can present challenges in the hierarchical, relationship-focused cultures across our region. Face can be lost, saved or given but it always has to be managed. This means building the insight and skills that help to manage face needs, while remaining honest and authentic.

Australia is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. We are also a trading nation. These two facts mean that cultural intelligence is vital for operations at home and internationally. If your people are culturally intelligent, you’ll be able to unlock the known benefits of diversity, such as innovative thinking. But without it, culture can be a risk, not a benefit.

Many cultural programs focus on awareness-raising only. While this is better than nothing, it isn’t enough to become culturally intelligent. People need to know what they must do differently in order to get the results they want. Insight and skills are vital, not just awareness.

Many cultural diversity training modules focus on awareness-raising of differences or exploring bias and prejudice. While this is useful it’s insufficient to deliver results. People need the insight and skills to behave differently. It’s behaviour change that delivers measurable results.

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