Business Etiquette

Business Etiquette in Ireland
Business Etiquette in Ireland

Attitudes and values exists at the core of business etiquette in Ireland culture. They are a reflection of the way people think and behave.  Having an understanding of business etiquette in Ireland can aid you significantly in successfully concluding your negotiations. For example, you will note in the following section that both relationships and family are hugely important to the Irish. This can stem from the agricultural nature of Irish employment, where large families were necessary to maintain farms. Business etiquette is one of the biggest points of difference between Ireland and other fast-paced Western European countries. Therefore, when conducting business with the Irish, it is important to bear in mind that family and relationships are as significant as the business itself. Using this knowledge can help you overcome many difficulties and ensure to achieve a successful outcome in your business negotiations. However, as important as it is, family is not the only significant element in Irish culture. The following section outlines other specifics and highlights their implications for business practice.

Corporate social responsibility

Over the past few years, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement has gathered great momentum in Ireland. It is now one of the most important topics. However, some studies indicate that CSR in Ireland is a relatively new issue compared with other countries (Lorraine Sweeney PhD Thesis in 2009). The research also noted that CSR was more prominent in multinational firms based in Ireland than in local Irish firms. In 2019, the Commission published an article to promote CSR.

The european commission worked in 2013 on a national CSR plan showing the desire of the country to innovate in that aspect of companies.

CSR plays an important role in enhancing both corporate reputations as well as  communities. To recognise CSR’s growing importance and its roles , Chambers Ireland has done much to highlight CSR activities  throughout the country. It has attempted to develop practical policies together with guidelines for the further development of CSR programmes. Chambers Ireland is focusing on establishing and fostering best practice in CSR and initiatives to support awareness of the potential of CSR amongst small companies and big corporations. The Council includes a number of CSR specialists and high-status business leaders.

The Chambers Ireland President’s Awards for CSR were created in 2004. This award recognises the work conducted by Irish and multinational companies to enhance the civic environment in which they exist, and to improve the lives of their employees. This competition provides the opportunity for the business community to advertise their efforts in CSR and to obtain recognition for best practice.  There is a variety of categories in which the awards are presented, covering all areas of CSR.

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Time keeping practices in Ireland differ for foreigners and local associates. When travelling to Ireland to do business, you should ensure that you arrive on time. It is impolite and inconsiderate when being late. Thus, it is essential to plan your appointments carefully and to ensure you allocate enough time for transport arrangements. This applies when in Dublin, where there is traffic congestion. If you happen to be running late, you should to phone the other party to apologise and inform them about the time of your arrival. If your delay is significant, you should consider postponing the meeting.

On the other hand, as a foreign associate, you should to give your Irish counterparts the leeway to be late. Generally, the Irish are not very time conscious and very often are not punctual for business or social meetings. However, usually they are not more than 15 minutes late. When the waiting exceeds this period you should consider telephoning them and re-arranging the meeting.

The Irish relaxed attitude to time also has an impact on delivery deadlines. For the Irish there is no shame in missing a delivery date. So it is essential to remember and allow for some latitude here. With effective planning and communication, it is easy to resolve these issues.

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Gift giving

In general, gift giving is not expectable for business purposes. If you decide to give a present, the best occasion is at the successful conclusion of negotiations. However, gifts are not advisable in Irish business culture.

If you receive an invitation to an Irish home for dinner,  you should to bring a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, a craft gift from your home region, a box of pastries or a bottle of wine. Particularly suitable is an illustrated book representing your home region. A preserved food product that is unique to your home region is another option; however,  you must ensure sealed preserves – canned or bottled – or Irish customs will probably confiscate them.

In Ireland, it is advisable to follow certain rules for giving flowers. Unsuitable flowers are lilies and red or white flowers. Lilies are appropriate for religious occasions only, and red or white coloured flowers symbolise death.

It is essential to remember that the cost of the gift is far less important than making a thoughtful choice. Avoid giving expensive or grandiose gifts. If you happen to receive a gift from your Irish counterpart, you should open it in front of the giver and express your gratitude. Similarly,  you should send a thank-you note after receiving a gift or being a dinner guest.

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Business Dress Code

The standard business dress in Ireland is smart and conservative. Formal suits work best in most situations however, in general, dress tends to be less formal than in Western Europe. Traditional style is represented by tweeds, wools and subdued colours. Particularly unsuitable are flashy colours and styles.

Occasionally, you may take off jackets , particularly during the summer. It is advisable to follow the lead of your business partners and adjust your style to theirs. However, at the initial stages of the contact a more formal style of clothing is appropriate.

You will also notice a difference between urban and rural business people. In the country they are generally very friendly and open, making an informal business approach most successful in this environment.

Women should dress well and fashionably. Suits or dresses and blazers are recommendations. Wearing trousers is still not common for women in Ireland.

Irish people can also have a negative attitude towards people wearing “extravagant” jewellery. They are also themselves generally understated with their jewellery as it can be a statement of status or wealth.

Last but not least a raincoat is a must in Ireland. Do not go out without waterproof clothing!

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Bribery and corruption

In general, corruption does not constitute a significant issue for foreign investors in Ireland. There are only minor areas of concern where some issues related to bribery and corruption have been reported. In the past, there have been a small number convictions of public officials for corruption. However, this is not a common occurrence. Furthermore, other issues have been reported in the pharmaceuticals industry, such as the theft of hospital funds and the complicity of pharmaceutical companies, health workers and public officials in selling or prescribing unsuitable or counterfeit drugs to patients. Currently, there are calls for further police reforms in order to deal with systemic  corruption within the police force. The most discussed issue is the introduction of whistleblower legislation. It is vital for the prevention and detection of corruption in Ireland.

However, overall, in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2012, Ireland ranks 69th (on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

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