Insurer IAG developing its cultural intelligence

by Maryvonne Gray 10 Oct 2016

Insurer IAG developing its cultural intelligence

In recognition of its increasingly diverse customer base, IAG has embarked on a series of in-house seminars to boost its cultural intelligence.

The phrase refers to a capability to work and relate effectively across culturally diverse situations and is known as CQ.

IAG’s head of corporate affairs, Craig Dowling, said with cultures interacting much more regularly in today’s world, it was ‘the right thing to do’.

“The need to understand each other better is important from both a business and personal standpoint and I think that is why our people enjoyed it so much.

IAG’s approach to inclusion and diversity is to broaden and challenge people’s thinking and through that to be a more mature business that evolves and grows with the changing nature of the communities it serves,” Dowling said.

IAG’s media and community relations manager, Shelley Huang, who developed the framework, organised the first seminar to coincide with the Chinese Moon Festival.

The session involved looking at examples of how other businesses had used the Moon Festival in their marketing and involved a panel discussion with representatives from media, academic and medical backgrounds to gain their insights on connecting better emotionally as a business.

Staff from 20 different departments within IAG attended the workshop, and got the chance to sample mooncakes from seven different regions of Asia to demonstrate just how widely the Moon Festival is celebrated.

“One third of the population recognise the Moon Festival,” Huang said. “It is a time where families get together.

“If organisations provide groups with an opportunity to celebrate it, they’ll feel more engaged and loyal to those agencies.

“Since it is a public holiday in countries like China, Korea, Malaysia and Japan, by recognising that it creates a greater emotional connection.”

She said one conclusion made was that marketing in a way that was more culturally-aware would be more meaningful to the newly-arrived in New Zealand than it would be to those who had been here longer.

“You still need to use traditional marketing to market products, but some recognition of home culture definitely adds a bonus for newcomers who will be homesick. Anything from their home country will grab their attention.”

Huang said the individual brands within IAG would decide how best to market as engagement would vary for different markets.

The other bonus was the help it can provide on a more personal level.

“One IAG employee who has Chinese ancestry but cannot speak Chinese went to three Chinese supermarkets to search for mooncakes.

“She delivered a gift pack to her grandmother and the night ended with an emotional hug.”

The seminar drew praise from Dr Andrew Zhu, an ethnic consumer research expert at Trace Research.

Dr Zhu said IAG was ‘taking a lead in this space’ and could be an example to the New Zealand business world generally.

Huang confirmed that other corporations had been in touch about being involved in future workshops and also wanting IAG to present their findings to them.

“We are ahead of the curve on this one, although we’re not perfect! Hopefully it will trigger enthusiasm amongst other businesses,” she said.

“It’s something I’m very passionate about and I feel I could devote my life to.”

Future themes planned are one to coincide with Diwali and another around Maori culture near Waitangi Day celebrations.

 
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