In past experience, through travels outside of the country for business relations it was discovered very early on that most cultures will respect fairness and tolerance, but each to a different degree. American women in managerial positions have had to struggle to find ways to be effective in cultures where their authority and credibility are not traditionally the norm. Perhaps it was the value of fairness that clashed with tolerance or respect for diversity on this particular business trip to Japan over 10 years ago. However, even if there was an underlying agreement on such values, in this particular scenario these values were prioritized differently among the two different cultures and might have been expressed different for that reason.
The writer is a 21-year old single woman who had just shortly completed a Bachelors Degree in Business Marketing when she was approved to participate in an internship program for a year in Japan. The organization had recently opened a new pilot program for new graduate interns interested in assisting with marketing campaigns outside of the U.S. The CEO of the company felt there were real growth opportunities for the organization in that particular region so the program was launched fairly quickly. Before leaving to Japan she and various other coworkers made their mark in the organization proving that they could handle the job.
In addition, shortly thereafter, she and a small group of American business professionals left to Japan. The conflict between values became evident very early on when it was discovered that women in Japan were treated by locals as second-class citizens. The country values there were very different, and the women began almost immediately feeling alienated. The options were to follow the country’s customs or conduct business as usual and let the American company decide what obligations they had to its women employees, and how they would respond to the situation. However, it was not long before the women found they were left on their own to deal with the situation, and in order to get any value added results from this business decision they were going to have to compromise with their own norms and beliefs.
Furthermore, under the circumstances of intense competition and the need for expediency, the women were advised to do what ever was in the best interest of the company, which forced them to sit along the side lines as observers through most of the trip. The women did not attend meetings even though they were...