The Cayman Islands is a popular business and financial center; and depending on where you work and what you do, you might be called to conduct business in this tropical location. However, before you pack your bags and grab your passport, it’s important that you understand the business culture.
To ensure you make the best first impression possible, here’s how to master business etiquette in the Cayman Islands.
Meetings and Appointments
Business in the Cayman Islands is conducted during normal business hours, between 8 AM and 5 PM Mondays through Fridays. If you’re traveling to the region on a weekend, meetings are never scheduled for Sundays. There is a large Christian population in the Cayman Islands, and most residents and business professionals attend church services on Sundays.
For the most part, business attire in the Cayman Islands is casual. Attire might consist of open collars, knit shirts, trousers and a blazer. However, it is appropriate to wear a business suit when meeting with certain professionals, such as senior officials, heads of businesses and bank executives. Also, many business professionals wear a suit when attending other functions, such as a conference or seminar.
- If you have an appointment or meeting scheduled with a local business professional, it is customary to shake hands with this individual.
- Hugging and exchanging kisses are between friends and family only.
- Because homosexuality is illegal in the Cayman Islands, public displays of affection between men should be avoided.
- The locals are extremely courteous. Therefore, always say "please" and "thank you" when dealing with your business counterparts, as well as locals and those in the service industry.
- Business cards are normally exchanged at the beginning of a meeting. Business cards should include your name, the company you represent, and your contact information. English is the official language in the Cayman Islands. Therefore, business cards and printed material should be printed in this language.
- As a matriarchal society, locals place great emphasis on seniority and they have high respect for those in authority -- whether it’s a family member or a business person. Therefore, greetings always acknowledge those with seniority or authority first.
- When meeting a business person for the first time, use this person’s title or surname. Referring to a colleague who you’ve just met by his or her first name is disrespectful. Only refer to a business person by his or her first name if given permission.
The atmosphere is relaxed and laid-back, however, punctuality is appreciated. Therefore, always arrive to business meetings and appointments on time, and notify your host if you will arrive late. In addition, because you’re conducting business in a touristy area, it’s not unusual for business people to suggest conducting a meeting while fishing or snorkeling.
For the most part, gifts are not exchanged during business meetings or appointments in the Cayman Islands. Additionally, if you meet with a government official, the only gifts they are allowed to receive are diaries or calendars. Of course, these rules do not apply in the private sector. If you meet a business person outside his or her office, it’s acceptable to exchange an inexpensive gift, perhaps a souvenir from your home country. Monetary gifts are never acceptable.
Once you’ve mastered the business customs of the region, you’re ready to tackle your business meeting or appointment. Can you offer additional tips for those traveling to the Cayman Islands on business?