Denmark – Consensus is Key
Denmark has a higher percentage of women in the workforce than almost any other country and women work in most disciplines and attain high rank within organisations. The excellence of the provision of day-care facilities, coupled with generous (in comparison with many other countries) maternity and paternity rights make it easier for working couples to combine careers and family life.
Danes have traditionally tended to work their contractual hours (going home at five o’clock) and although this has caused frustration with colleagues in other countries, it has undoubtedly been helpful in advancing full female participation in the workforce.
The drive for egalitarianism is strong in Danish business circles. This leads Danes to be consensus-oriented in many situations. They seek consensus through detailed discussion and the search for a negotiated agreement.
Denmark has few truly multi-national companies but boasts hundreds of highly respected players in niche-markets. Danish success has been largely built on high levels of design, creativity and technical excellence. Business structures tend to be much flatter than in many other countries with wage differentials reflecting this. Promotion tends to be determined through achievement rather than through relationships or networks.
People are expected to be well prepared for meetings and to be able to argue their own point of view convincingly. Meetings tend to follow a pre-determined agenda, which nearly is always adhered to. Punctuality is definitely a virtue and meetings will begin and end on time. Any pre-meeting lobbying could be viewed as mischievous and underhand.
Debate can be very direct but is rarely confrontational – confrontation being seen as unhelpful in the consensus-building process. Attendees tend to speak one at a time and often seek permission from the meeting leader before speaking. Interrupting somebody who is speaking, or overt signs of emotion, are seen as poor meeting etiquette and would be frowned upon.
Do you have Danish business experiences to share?