The Blog for Culture Vultures

Satiate your inner Culture Vulture with regular news and posts about cultural awareness, doing business abroad, working in a multicultural environment, HR diversity and global mobility.

Migrants' safety getting lost in translation

Many employers are risking migrant workers' wellbeing by not providing adequate health and safety training warned the Institute of Occupational Health and safety (IOSH).

It said many non-English speaking migrant workers are especially at risk as H&S training is usually delivered in English. IOSH recently conducted a pilot study into how H&S training is delivered to migrant workers in the food processing sector.

Half of the 26 companies polled admitted their H&S training did not address how non-English speaking workers were informed, instructed or trained in H&S issues and practices.

"The evidence from the food and drink sector is that too many employers are taking risks with their migrant workers by not offering proper training in H&S issues," said IOSH policy and technical director Richard Jones."Within this sector only 42% of employers provide English lessons to staff."

Read more> Migrants 
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International assignments - six steps to success

In the book, “The World is Flat,” By Thomas L. Friedman, the author famously writes, “‘Honey,’ I confided, ‘I think the world is flat.’”

With the onslaught of rapid globalisation, high-quality executive mobility has become more critical than ever for the success of many US companies. Nevertheless, many companies continue to struggle to make their international assignments effective.

A well-developed global mobility program must cover a comprehensive range of complex issues, such as housing, children’s education, and income taxes. In addition, many companies now are investing in family counselling and in cultural and language training with good results. These issues offer many opportunities for continual improvement and, fortunately, experts and service providers now are available to help.

However, while these are important issues for success, in the end, these issues deal with administrative policy, process, and financial costs. They do not address the effectiveness of the assignment. Global mobility programs—and the managers responsible for them—must be aligned with the overall business goals.

Read more: Success Abroad 
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An expat's view on intercultural communication

Portuguese expat Elizabet Fernandes enjoys the international atmosphere in her multilingual EU company, but finds that people get 'lost in translation’ and inherit one another's linguistic mistakes.

Lost in translation

English is the current working language but too often people ‘get lost in translation’ because the level and the knowledge of language amongst us varies from person to person. We also inherit each other’s linguistic mistakes and end up speaking a kind of ‘Euro-English’. I like to speak as many languages as possible so I prefer to speak Spanish, French or Italian depending on the nationality of my colleagues. Besides, with this job I can also use and develop my skills as a translator and that’s perfect.

Unfortunately it’s too hard to use Dutch on a daily basis as the Dutch immediately respond in English to foreigners even to Flemish people!

Culture games

Although Eurojust is a very multicultural environment it is still not very intercultural. My colleagues often don’t understand each other or tend to ‘over-react’. I have been fighting for intercultural training because it helps you to realise that different people (from different cultures) may react differently in similar situations and to respect that. I followed this training myself in Portugal so I know the impact and the benefits.

Read more: Holland 
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NHS HR staff accused of ignoring racism and bullying of Asian doctors

eading figures have told Personnel Today how HR teams are allowing a minority of racist line managers to make working life tough for migrant medics.

Their comments come after a General Medical Council (GMC) report showed that doctors trained overseas were twice as likely to face formal disciplinary hearings once a complaint had been made as those who graduated in the UK.

Ramesh Mehta, president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, told Personnel Today: "There is no doubt that bullying of Asian doctors goes on.

"The small minority of racists in the NHS take complaints [about foreign doctors] to HR. HR needs better training in handling these issues."

Read more: Doctors 
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Global Teams - A Guide For Multinationals

For global corporations, the borderless world offers a glimpse of what's to come. International success once meant having bodies and factories on the ground from São Paulo to Silicon Valley to Shanghai. Coordinating their activities was a deliberately planned effort handled by headquarters.

The challenge now is to weld these vast, globally dispersed workforces into superfast, efficient organizations. Given the conflicting needs of multinational staff and the swiftly shifting nature of competition brought about by the Internet, that's an almost impossible task. And getting workers to collaborate instantly—not tomorrow or next week, but now—requires nothing less than a management revolution.

Complicating matters is the fact that the very idea of a company is shifting away from a single outfit with full-time employees and a recognizable hierarchy. It is something much more fluid, with a classic corporation at the center of an ever-shifting network of suppliers and outsourcers, some of whom only join the team for the duration of a single project.

To adapt, multinationals are hiring sociologists to unlock the secrets of teamwork among colleagues who have never met. They're arming staff with an arsenal of new tech tools to keep them perpetually connected. They include software that helps engineers co-develop 3D prototypes in virtual worlds and services that promote social networking and that track employees and outsiders who have the skills needed to nail a job. Corporations are investing lavishly in posh campuses, crafting leadership training centers, and offering thousands of online courses to develop pipelines of talent.

Read more: Global Teams 
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Culture still a major factor in expat failure

The Cartus Emerging Trends in Global Mobility: Policies & Practices Survey shows that an accelerated shift from long-term to short-term international relocation assignments is expected by the end of 2009. China's popularity as a destination is growing the fastest when compared with the U.S., Great Britain and India.

Cartus, a global mobility management and workforce development consultant, conducted the survey with 184 respondents from companies in 25 major industry segments. The organizations surveyed represent more than 83,000 assignees and have headquarters in 19 different nations.

Cartus also identified why these international assignments fail, regardless of being on a short-term basis. The top three reasons were family adjustment, at 71%; assignee personal style, at 48%; and cultural differences, at 40%.

This is easily remedied with intercultural and language training, which more companies are offering. The survey shows that intercultural training was offered by 55% of companies in 2007, versus the 28% offered in 2004. Meanwhile, 58% of companies offered language services for families, an increase from 30% in 2004.

Read more: Cartus 
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