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Cultural Values And Ethics

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Every day, our decisions are subject to influence by our personal, organizational, and cultural values. This is evident in such decisions as when to use an interpreter for a customer who speaks a foreign language, why some may refer to elders as Sir or Madam, while others address an elder by first name, and finally, medical decisions that are made-based on ones cultural background, and the pressure to adhere to these requests by the medical staff.

Interpreters are being used in greater numbers to help find a connection between a foreign customer and a domestic supplier. Companies are just beginning to understand the importance of conducting business in a customer's native language, and the fact that sales increase when such actions are taken. In the past, most all insurance companies that have operations only in the United States have conducted business using English as the only language. While this may have been effective in closing the sale on such items as car insurance, which was required as part of owning a vehicle, many other products such as homeowners insurance, and umbrella policies suffered due to a lack of understanding of both the importance and relevance to a customers life. This was a somewhat successful business decision, up until recently, because all companies in this industry operated the same, so competition was not effected.

Recently, the insurance industry has begun to experience a shift in how they address customers of various cultural backgrounds. In order to get quality communication in a trusted voice, many insurance companies have selected Language Line Services, which is a leader in telephone interpretation. In fact, according to the company's website, "...Language Line Services' customer base is made up of organizations that recognize the value in communicating with ALL potential and existing customers, regardless of language." (Language Line, 2005) By contracting with a company like Language Line services, demonstrates a corporation's commitment to conducting business in a manner most favorable to the customer, thereby allowing for easier decision-making for the customer as well as growth opportunities for the companies willing to provide such services.

The result is that sales of secondary insurance products, such as home owners and umbrella polices, boat and cycle policies, and jewelry endorsements have increased tremendously now that verbal and written communications are understandable in terms of the subject matter, as well as brochures that include photos representing the customers cultural background.

Organizational decisions play a major role in how many of our decisions are made, because we spend so much of our time at work; however, personal decisions are affected by a wide range of factors as well, and work to shape our lives in whatever form they take. For instance, why does one person address elders as Mr., Mrs., Sir, or Madam, while another person just calls them by his or her first name? Personal values effect how we handle interaction with one another 100% of the time. Another example occurs when one family sits down to eat and orders a salad with bacon, while another family requests that bacon be left out of the recipe. Is this just personal taste? Often it is, but to a good number of people, this is done as a result of personal religious values. In addition to affecting what we eat, religion plays a significant role in how our time is spent. Some go to church on Sunday, while others go on Wednesday as well. Yet, still others go to synagogue on Friday nights and Saturdays mornings. Most recently, a debate has come about regarding whether requiring "under God" in the pledge of allegiance is in violation of a citizens rights. This issue has reached the Supreme Court and has recently been addressed by the House of Representatives, where they have, "...passed legislation that prohibits any federal court, including the Supreme Court, from removing any words from the pledge." (DeCamp, 2004).

Although personal decisions affect much of our lives, it is interesting to see the link between these values and cultural



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