The prime religions in Canada are Catholic and Christian respectively, but the country is somewhat separated, with a soaring percentage of French Catholic’s in Quebec. There is no official religion as such, although Catholics form the largest religious group.
Canada has low power distance, as evidenced in prevailing equality among social levels in government, organizations and families; high in individualism, thus having a more individualistic attitude, somewhat less bonds with others and holding their privacy open exclusively to closest friends; high in uncertainty avoidance possessing strong norms and values to generate order; high in masculinity shown in materialism and dominance of males; and low in long term orientation lacking patience and perseverance.
Men usually are dress in conventional business suits in navy and gray with white and light blue shirts in the workplace. Women on the other hand, put on conservative navy, gray, ivory and white business attire or dress, especially when working in cities where one has to be sophisticated. Classic leather shoes complete the package look. Even in the rural areas, which call for less formality, clothing must still be conservative. During winter, excellent quality long coat is a good addition to the usual skirt or dress. When not working, weather and activity speak the kind of clothes that should be worn.
Canadians give importance to time especially in meetings and appointments, though seldom French attendees arrive on time. Reserved and courteous manners are part of the culture. Eating in public while walking is prohibited and should be done in cafes or restaurant. It is not their habit to give gifts, but when they do present something as a token of appreciation it is not a lavish one or it will accepted with frown. Gifts for the office usually a nice bottle of wine are offered to rejoice a successful contract, project or business transaction.
It is a good motion to take a business partner out for meal, sport event or play. On certain occasions, especially in the provinces, one is invited at home as guest, which compels the visitor to bring candy, flowers or wine for the host or hostess. It is always the host who starts the conversation during or after a meal with non-business topics. It is unusual to be invited for dinner meeting in Canada, most likely it is lunch or breakfast. During meal, fork which is use for eating is held at the right hand.
The knife is the one use to cut items into small pieces or spread stuff onto a food item. For good service it is expected for the customer to leave a tip of approximately 15% (of the receipt). English and French provinces vary in terms of personal space (how close someone stands) and body movement. A handshake in about two (2) feet personal space is the only body movement in English locales. Gestures are more communicative in French vicinities, where people stand closer and light touching is not objectionable, especially on the shoulder and elbow.
However, Canadians are not fond of kissing or hugging when greeting friends. A firm handshake with good eye contact is normal when meeting and departing. Men should hang around for a woman to give her hand for the greeting. Regardless of the number of meeting on the same day, French Canadians shake hands more often. For others a nod or smile is enough at a later bumping into each other. In the absence of a person’s title, the use of Mr. , Mrs. , Miss and the surname is mandatory, especially when meeting someone in person.
Majority of Canadian firms support a leaner and flatter business organization structure than the traditional hierarchy. Managers are paternalistic yet decisive in nature. They are informal and friendly favoring to be “one of the guys”, rather than standing remote at a distance from anyone else. Punctuality and formality are anticipated in meetings. Body language is held back, demonstrating hardly any signs of emotion. Participants usually take turns in speaking and it is rude to make interruptions.
It is uncommon to have heated arguments or obvious war of words in meetings, because politeness and courtesy is very much emphasized. Facts are always the basis of decisions, therefore attendees in the meeting must be well-prepared or they might be viewed with suspicion and evasion. Canadians expect to be given importance on the basis of their input to the team, which the manager must recognize. Thus members of the team anticipate in receiving outline guides and instructions to clearly understand the input they are supposed to furnish..
The fact that the country is bilingual does not pose any problem. Canadians are direct and say what they connote. It is not common to find them speaking obviously coded language. Yes is yes and no is no for these people. The key characteristics of the Canadians are being reserve, understatement, diplomacy and tact. In the business setting, women in Canada are now found in managerial positions. Gender bias is uncommon. Women are supposed to behave professionally in order to be given the same treatment of respect.