On the 26th of May the ACOLA report – Australia’s Diaspora Advantage: Realising the potential for building transnational business networks with Asia – was released.

I am proud to have contributed to this ground breaking research by ACOLA. This report, crucially raises awareness of a long existing problem and sets the foundation for Australia’s renewed focus on Asia.

The report highlights our vast and rich diaspora that we could and should tap into; to create and accelerate opportunities for the benefit of all Australians. The four million people, 17 % of the population, identifying as Asian origin, are under-utilised in engaging with Asia.  People with strong links back to their countries of origin may not be fully exploiting “their transnational networks to extend business activities and opportunities”.

The first step, as the ACOLA report finds, is for governments, and businesses to increase the involvement of Asian diaspora to develop the strategies, policies and programs to strengthen ties with Asia.

As the report also points out, the traditional focus and priority of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education should not trump the importance of humanities, arts and social science (HASS) education. An understanding of Asian Languages and Cultural behaviours is critical to making strides within the business environment of Asian countries.

MindTribes supports this view and believes that this understanding needs to go beyond the superficial recognition of “meet and greet” protocols or knowledge of the Asian concept of “Face”.

The innate advantages that the diaspora have had in dealing with barriers and opportunities in their countries of origin need to be translated to all Australians. All Australians, including the existing diaspora who have become westernised, need to understand the cultural differences that exist in business dealings and how to adapt their behaviours to bridge this gap quickly.

Furthermore, this concept becomes particularly significant when the “rubber hits the road” and business opportunities become successes and start to be operationalised. How do we engage with Asian cultures on a day-day basis? How do we provide and receive feedback? How do we coach for success? How do we ensure that the same or better performance is achieved by our Asian teams as we would expect in Australia?

These are key questions that can be answered through increased involvement with the Asian diaspora and preparing our Australian leaders non-Asian and Asian, to manage the cultural challenges that exist. It is this concept that is at the root of MindTribes’ service offerings i.e. to ensure that all Australians leaders are equipped to maintain high performance in managing cross-border and multicultural teams.

Click here for the full ACOLA report on Australia’s Diaspora Advantage: Realising the potential for building transnational business networks with Asia.

Contact MindTribes by clicking here.

Div Pillay is a cross cultural expert and Co-Founder of MindTribes – a 2016 Telstra Business Award Finalist company that improves cross border performance by realigning people to the foreign cultures in which they work.

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