Having moved to the UK from India a few years ago, I often get asked about the cultural differences. I’ve never worked in India and I don’t intend to any time soon, but having been raised there, there are a few distinct contrasts I’ve noticed with the work culture here in the UK.
In the UK, business colleagues engage in discussions and typically maintain their composure when they’re engaging in a debate or an argument. The worst I could expect in a sophisticated setting are punchlines and gentle ribbing, like we sometimes see in the Houses of Parliament. This is in contrast to India, where house members can be seen aggressively debating the smallest of issues. Interrupting a conversation with a business colleague is also considered rude here in the UK. In India, and in my experience of the culture, it’s a bit more relaxed. Colleagues are treated like friends, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Maintaining that line of professionalism is key to the atmosphere and productivity of your company.
Opportunities for women
In the UK, there’s a constant discussion about increasing the female participation on the boards of FTSE companies, with initiatives like the 30% Club by Helena Morrissey, who is the chief executive at Newton Investment Management and is also a mother to nine children. This is where I see a huge gulf between the UK and India, as approximately over 35 percent of India’s workforce is made up of female labour. I consider myself lucky to work as a graduate at a company like SilverDoor, where around 50 percent of senior management are women who are openly encouraged to progress within the business and the sector in general.
Not many modern pubs or bars line the streets of India, except of course in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai. People in their twenties aren’t regulars at bars, as it’s considered socially improper and can be frowned upon. Here in the UK, it’s a leisure activity and very much a part of the day-to-day winding down process, a chance to network or a place for getting to know friends and colleagues. It’s not always about the alcohol; it’s more about the setting. This is especially true at SilverDoor, where we try to socialise as much as possible outside of working hours, so we can get to know each other on a personal level too.
Author: Anant Wahad – International Partner Relations Administrator