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Business dress code in Ghana - can't get a clear answer!

Business dress code in Ghana - can't get a clear answer!

Old Jun 25, 15, 2:37 pm
  #1  
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Business dress code in Ghana - can't get a clear answer!

Hello all -

I am taking a trip to Accra for business, and I'm trying to get a clear understanding of what to pack. i have done business in tons of places, included a lot of topical places with hardcore heat and humidity. So, I know that you have to pack just the right stuff if you're a chronically sweaty guy like me!

I work in the IT industry, for a small software consultancy that deals generally with newer technology and younger, smaller countries. So, in many places like Thailand, Ukraine, etc. the business dress code is 'suits and ties for starters', but I arrive only to find the tech folks wearing short sleeve collars and jeans. This is great for me - I will be sweaty mess in a suit in Bangkok!

In Ghana, however, I'm having a hard time finding out there 'real' dress code. All I hear is that suits and ties are required for 'important' meetings i.e. government meetings, and African shirts are also ok in some circumstances. My hope is to get away with my standard outfit - a pair of really nice tropical wool or microfiber pants and a short sleeve collared shirt.

Does anyone have any insight into this? If I need long sleeves, I would have to figure out a source for cool weather long sleeve dress shirts - I don't have any.

Any Ghana experts, please opine

thanks!
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Old Jun 25, 15, 2:55 pm
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Slacks and short sleeved collared shirt is fine. I doubt you will be meeting the president so no need to take a tie or jacket.
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Old Jun 25, 15, 3:57 pm
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For more discussion, I'll move this to the Africa forum. Ocn Vw 1K, Moderator, TravelBuzz.
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Old Jun 25, 15, 7:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave-H View Post
I work in the IT industry, for a small software consultancy that deals generally with newer technology and younger, smaller countries. So, in many places like Thailand, Ukraine, etc. the business dress code is 'suits and ties for starters',
I have never heard that and I've been doing business in Thailand for over 10 years.

Originally Posted by Dave-H View Post
but I arrive only to find the tech folks wearing short sleeve collars and jeans. This is great for me - I will be sweaty mess in a suit in Bangkok!

In Ghana, however, I'm having a hard time finding out there 'real' dress code. All I hear is that suits and ties are required for 'important' meetings i.e. government meetings, and African shirts are also ok in some circumstances. My hope is to get away with my standard outfit - a pair of really nice tropical wool or microfiber pants and a short sleeve collared shirt.
Depends on the industry. If you're consulting with a bank you will have to weare a tie. If it's an oil company, jeans and a polo shirt are fine.
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Old Jun 26, 15, 2:36 am
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Ghana can be quite a formal country in business. I would wear a shirt and tie for the first day and then see how it goes (short sleeves are fine). Ghanaians do not expect westerners to wear a jacket, they understand how we sweat out there.

If you want to honour your Ghanaian colleagues then Friday wear is an important thing. It is traditional for people to wear African dress on a Friday in the office. Just pick up an African shirt when you arrive, this will be appreciated and of course makes you look like you understand the culture you are working in.

When are you going to Accra?
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Old Jun 26, 15, 3:52 am
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Originally Posted by erik123 View Post
Slacks and short sleeved collared shirt is fine. I doubt you will be meeting the president so no need to take a tie or jacket.
I've done a ton of business in Africa and have three comments.

1. It's not just the President who wears a suit. Most business leaders, vice president level on up, wear suits. So when I'm meeting at that level I'm expected to wear a suit and tie. If it's a banker you are meeting, even lower level people wear suits. Ditto for certain government ministries.

2. In all tropical locations the locals often wear long sleeve shirts. It is due to formality and it's ok for them because they are accustomed to the heat. I found that I get accustomed pretty quickly and as long as I have general access to air conditioning that a long sleeve shirt is fine. So khaki slacks and a long sleeve shirt is what I generally wear unless I'm meeting someone senior or going to a special dinner.

3. Shoes are a concern. If you are going to be walking around a lot, you will ruin a nice pair of Gucci's. So I only wear those if I'm riding in a Mercedes to the bosses office. Otherwise black shoes with thick rubber soles is the way to go.
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Old Jun 28, 15, 8:55 pm
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Originally Posted by Tchiowa View Post
If it's an oil company, jeans and a polo shirt are fine.
Formal expected at meetings - even for geos. For semi-casual dinners - no jeans.

please do NOT buy an " african " shirt to wear. Good lord!
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Old Jun 29, 15, 2:16 am
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The business dress code in Ghana is a sliding scale that depends how familiar you are with the person you are interacting with.

First interactions at someone else's office - you are expected to be appropriately suited and tied. Government offices, always. Obrunis are judged for going too casual, so better to err on the formal side when in doubt. Going out for dinner, a shirt without tie is perfectly acceptable. Never jeans, even for a casual business dinner.

Once you've been there for a while, dressing down is also expected. I spent almost 8 years working there and my everyday "uniform" was a short sleeve white shirt with dark slacks (no, I wasn't an LDS missionary!). That included for very regular meetings with Government departments, banks and even the President (the current President abhors suits and won't wear one except for formal occasions - I can't remember ever meeting him in a suit, going back to when he was VP and even before).

I second Stuart's suggestion of getting a nice traditional shirt and wearing it on Fridays if the office has a "traditional Friday" policy as most do. Nothing builds ties better with your local colleagues. You'll know its a success if they start asking you where you got it from and start giving you tips on where to buy the next one from!
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Old Jun 29, 15, 3:31 pm
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Just come back from Accra. Had 5 meetings in 2 days.

I wore a suit and tie. Fortunate, as all the clients did too.
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Old Jun 30, 15, 7:04 am
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Originally Posted by simons1 View Post
Just come back from Accra. Had 5 meetings in 2 days.

I wore a suit and tie. Fortunate, as all the clients did too.
While more information is (normally) useful, this is meaningless without giving some idea of industry/seniority of your clients. I went to Accra a few weeks ago, had 5 meetings in two days, wore a open-necked shirt and trousers. Fortunate, as all the clients did too. [actually, two of them wore jeans, but still].

For a software consultant working with 'newer technology' I would be amazed if shirt and trousers was under-dressing.
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Old Jun 30, 15, 10:42 am
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Originally Posted by Stewie Mac View Post
For a software consultant working with 'newer technology' I would be amazed if shirt and trousers was under-dressing.
When meeting other software people that's fine. But when meeting the money man, it's generally best to wear a suit.
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Old Jul 1, 15, 3:08 am
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Don't wear short sleeves. Exposed arms are distracting.
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Old Jul 1, 15, 3:52 am
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There seems to be a growing number of different opinions on this matter. I would respectfully suggest that some of the posters here although may have been to Accra have never actually left the confines of airport to hotel to office to hotel to airport.

Suggesting that jeans are good to wear in Ghana is madness in the heat of the day (although Accra is colder than London today).

I would stand by my comments and agree with B747-437b

Stuart
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Old Jul 1, 15, 9:19 am
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Originally Posted by stuart101 View Post

Suggesting that jeans are good to wear in Ghana is madness in the heat of the day

Stuart

Stuart - I was certainly not suggesting that jeans are good to wear in Ghana at any time, just that two of the clients I met with were wearing them.

And my point was that trying to generalise about business dress in Ghana is as meaningless as trying to generalise about business dress in London - meeting anyone in government or banking, one would wear a suit in either country, but different industries have different norms. I work in CPG, and have been laughed at for wearing a jacket in Lagos. I met with the CEO of a top 10 global CPG company and he was wearing an open-neck shirt.

And even in government, you can't generalise - witness B747-437B's comments about the current Pres....
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Old Jul 6, 15, 10:10 am
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Thanks for these replies.

To clarify, I am meeting exclusively with software companies, and from what I've learned there is apparently a trend amongst software companies to be more casually dressed than banks or government agencies. And, it seems that the larger the company is, the more formal the dress is. Smaller tech companies like startups with, say, 15 people seem to be pretty casual with a short sleeve collared shirt and nice trousers the norm.

Jeans, apparently, and not worn in many business situations at all.

I have a couple of meetings with medium size companies, i.e. 100 people. So, for those I'm thinking that a long sleeve collar and tie would do the trick, and for the smaller/hipper/techie companies maybe a nice untucked collared shirt would be fine. I picked up a couple of pairs of nice tropical wool style dress pants that should work for either.
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