Professional culture

Here is some useful information designed to prepare you for your first professional contacts with Quebecers.

A culture based on respect

The respect and openness that characterize the residents of Quebec City and the surrounding region are also found within the business community. Quebec’s professional culture is characterized by self-confidence, informality and a lack of cumbersome procedures. French is the language of business. Consequently, all documents should be presented in French.

Useful information

  • Men and women are treated equally in the business world
  • The dress code at work may vary considerably from place to place
  • People usually work from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Lunch is usually 30 to 60 minutes in length; it is customary to take two short breaks (10 to 15 minutes each) per day
  • The organizational structure is flexible, informal and has a limited number of hierarchical levels
  • Decisions are consensus-based
  • As a general rule, the work-related materials you present should be short and to the point
  • Arranging business meetings is relatively easy. Most of the time, you will have easy access to business contacts, regardless of their hierarchical rank
  • Contacts are usually informal; when making introductions, protocol is limited
  • You are advised to use titles of courtesy (Mr., Mrs., Ms., etc.) at first, although you will notice that people quickly switch to a first-name basis (in French, people use “vous” at first but will quickly switch to “tu”)
  • To ensure the success of your meetings, be punctual and follow the order of business
  • Business meals are usually held at lunchtime (midday)

    Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
  • Invitations to dine at a business contact’s home are rare and should be looked on as an honour
  • Business meals do not usually run for more than 90 minutes
  • The host will sometimes pay for the guests’ meals, but not always (so you may have to pay your own bill).

  • In business circles in Canada, offering gifts to obtain special treatment is not tolerated. Indeed, it may be seen as corrupt and could have legal consequences
  • Negotiations and contracts are concluded relatively quickly and discussions are focused on achieving maximum efficiency
  • Networking is an essential practice in the Quebec business world. For effective networking, be sure to target whom you would like to meet and the places you consider strategic.