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.

Aussies say Aussies are racist

Aussies say Aussies are racist



Australians are in two minds about multiculturalism, a long-term survey has found.

They believe cultural diversity is good for the country but they're worried that cultural differences will stop everyone from getting along.

An 11-year study by a collaboration of Australian universities has found 85 per cent of Australians acknowledge racial prejudice occurs in the nation and one in five has been a victim of racist verbal abuse.

The study found that 6.5 per cent of the 16,000 Australians surveyed were against multiculturalism.

Professor Kevin Dunn, from the University of Western Sydney's school of social science, said the study revealed that the majority of Australians are pro-multiculturalism but are anxious that the diversity will not be managed well.

"Over 40 per cent of those surveyed feel that cultural differences pose a threat to societal harmony," he said.

Read more > Survey
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New DVD - Cross Cultural Communication & Customer Service

We have today added a new DVD title to their library of cross cultural communication training DVDs.



Cross-Cultural Communication and Customer Service

In Part 1, service representative Valerie receives a call from Lois, a customer from another culture. Valerie speaks quickly and uses slang, frustrating Lois. Valerie is impatient with Lois’ accent and English, and belittles her, despite the fact that Lois has taken the time to learn Valerie’s language. Valerie insults Lois, and loses a customer.

In Part 2, Valerie approaches the same situation differently, adapting to the customer’s unique needs. Valerie speaks slowly, clearly, and properly. When Lois uses unfamiliar words, Valerie seeks to reframe to understand her. Despite being challenged by the communication difficulties, Valerie takes personal responsibility, finds a solution, and ultimately triumphs with yet another happy customer.

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Councils spend £50m a year translating documents

Councils spend £50m a year translating documents



It is a well-intended initiative which is meant to offer immigrants a helping hand. Yet now an investigation has found that many of the expensively-produced foreign-language leaflets have never been read.

Documents which have failed to attract a single reader include a pamphlet for gipsies translated into Polish, and a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender directory translated into French.

No-one read the Haringey Women's Directory when it was translated into Albanian, Bengali, Kurdish, Somali or Urdu.

All were made available by Haringey council, in north London, on its website, which records the number of times each document is downloaded.

A spokesman for Haringey Council said: “Haringey has some 193 different languages spoken. We generally offer translations where required rather than translate routinely.

"Where translations are produced they will be made available on our website as an additional service.”

Read more > Telegraph
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Fewer expats sent abroad

Fewer expats sent abroad



According to the findings of a survey of 180 managers by London-based consultants Brookfield, more than two thirds of the major multinationals are expecting to post fewer employees abroad this year.

Nannette Ritmeester of the Dutch consultancy Expertise in Labour Mobility recognises the picture. She sees two possible responses to the crisis: either send fewer employees abroad, or economise on the facilities for expats, by cutting back on housing allowances or air tickets for trips back home.

However, spokespersons for Shell, Philips and Akzo Nobel are keen to stress that they won’t be skimping on perks for expats.

“They’re set down in the collective labour agreement – they’re agreed beforehand so you can’t change them,” says a Philips spokesperson.

Read more > Expats
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Cross Culture Kids

Cross Culture Kids



I recently attended the 11th annual Families in Global Transition (FIGT) conference – an idea which was first planned at a kitchen table in Indianapolis.

That kitchen table belonged to author and Cross-Culture Kid (CCK) expert, Ruth van Reken. The first conference attracted 80 delegates but this year's boasted over 200.

Almost half were first-timers, drawn from a mix of military, corporate, missionary, education and diplomatic backgrounds. Many were in the business of providing relocation services and support to transitioning families. Many were part of those families.

FIGT is always an uplifting experience and this year, though the conference was in Houston, Texas, it was testament to the global reach of the organisation that each of the plenary sessions included one person living in Europe. The three-day conference also offered more than 40 break-out sessions to choose from.

Child psychologist Doug Ota, who heads up a world-leading transitions programme at the American School of The Hague (ASH), opened the conference with a keynote speech focusing on how grief impacts on the lives of those who roam the globe.

"Grief is a messy, backward and forward process," he explained, as he shared his experience of growing up with a Japanese father and British-origin mother in California. He spoke of his loss of identity; the loss of his colleagues, friends, and even his brother, during the 16 years he has lived in the Netherlands with his Dutch wife.

Read more > Telegraph
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Cultural Diversity - Thinking Globally

Cultural Diversity - Thinking Globally


One of the greatest challenges for any enterprise, large or small, is recruiting and retaining workers, a situation that is certain to escalate as baby boomers move into retirement.

One way to meet the challenge, experts say, is to strengthen the recruitment of visible minorities. In fact, major corporations are fostering diversity in the workplace as good business sense, not only to reflect changing customer bases today, but as a strategy for the long term.

Business is increasingly international in nature and having people on staff fluent in foreign languages and cultural savvy can prove a tremendous asset. Then there is the need to have an organization reflect the communities it serves -- it just makes sound branding sense.

The challenge for many companies, however, is how to get started, and then how to recruit and retain visible minorities on staff.

Read more > Thinking Globally
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Cultural Diversity - Thinking Globally

Cultural Diversity - Thinking Globally


One of the greatest challenges for any enterprise, large or small, is recruiting and retaining workers, a situation that is certain to escalate as baby boomers move into retirement.

One way to meet the challenge, experts say, is to strengthen the recruitment of visible minorities. In fact, major corporations are fostering diversity in the workplace as good business sense, not only to reflect changing customer bases today, but as a strategy for the long term.

Business is increasingly international in nature and having people on staff fluent in foreign languages and cultural savvy can prove a tremendous asset. Then there is the need to have an organization reflect the communities it serves -- it just makes sound branding sense.

The challenge for many companies, however, is how to get started, and then how to recruit and retain visible minorities on staff.

Read more > Thinking Globally
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New Expat Website

New Expat Website
Allo' Expat Sdn Bhd, a Malaysia headquartered online publisher and most visited expatriate social portal worldwide (www.AlloExpat.com). Launched eight years ago, with now more than 40,000 visitors daily, AlloExpat.com is becoming the preferred online media for advertisers in the "expat industry" around the world.

AlloExpat.com is addressing a permanently increasing expatriate community worldwide. With communities throughout the five continents, over 170 users' nationalities, 145 countries covered, AlloExpat.com has not only become the leading expatriate one-stop information centre, but it also succeeds in becoming the meeting point between the expat communities audience and professional expatriate service providers in various fields such as relocation services, real-estate, insurance and financial planning, leisure, lifestyle, etc...

Through an efficient and very affordable online advertising space offer and a number of dedicated advertisement packages under its "Expat Best" recommended section, AlloExpat.com provides its advertisers with the right expatriate exposure. Advertisers can also direct their ad campaign nationally, regionally and even globally under one unique website.

"Targeting a permanently moving customer target is a challenge by itself. Expat families and individuals are very hard to spot and understand for most media specialists, mostly due to the diversity of the expatriate audience itself: Where are they? What is their favourite hangout, magazine, spending habits? Furthermore, at the difference of the usual more expensive expatriate's printing media, AlloExpat.com enables advertisers to interact directly with their audience and get the necessary instant feedback and market feel they really need. With the growing numbers of AlloExpat.com advertisers and the everyday feedback we receive from all of them we are able to continuously develop and improve our advertising platform to serve them better," said co-founder and Public Relations Director Theresa Giovagnoli.

Read more > Press Release
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Expat life getting harder

Expat life getting harder


With fluctuating exchange rates and companies less willing to keep expats on their payroll, the economic landscape for expats is changing drastically.

Expatriates have always been known for their ability to adapt to new cultures and contexts but the current financial crisis may prove to be the biggest challenge yet for internationals.

The economic landscape across the globe is changing by the day and it is still unclear how that will affect the world and workplace – and the place of expats within it.

Two things are already clearly impacted, though: the costs borne by expatriates in many European cities and overseas assignments by multinational corporations.

A recent survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), for instance, showed that while weakening exchange rates have substantially lowered the relative cost of living in Western Europe for expatriates, it remains the most expensive area of the world to live in. Western Europe boasts seven of the top 10 most expensive cities across the globe and all but two of the Western European cities surveyed are in the top 50, according to the report.

However, those living in Western Europe can take heart in the fact that the relative cost of living in the region is dropping – due, in large part, to drastic declines in European currencies such as the sterling, the euro and the Norwegian krone.

Read more > Expatica
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Organisations Failing in Cross Cultural Up-Skilling



Leading research and workplace innovation company, Career Innovation (Ci) has today published the results of its latest study, Cross-Cultural Development Conversations.

Carried out across 45 leading companies worldwide, the new study has found that although organisations are aware of the need to skill up their leaders to manage the cross-cultural workforce, few have acted to make this a reality.

At a time when the pace and scale of globalisation has never been higher, competition for the best talent remains intense. The effectiveness of development conversations in organisations is known to play a significant role in engaging and retaining key talent. Factoring in the complexity of a diverse and dispersed workforce makes it even tougher to ensure that these conversations are at their most effective.

According to the 45 organisations interviewed (Sept-Nov 08), the business importance of working effectively across cultures is high and rising. Most are already operating complex organizations across multiple regions and almost all (91%) indicated they expect cultural diversity in their organisations to increase over the next 3-5 years, with nearly 50% expecting a “significant increase”.

The study revealed three top factors that impact cross-cultural development conversations:

The directness of communication style
Language differences – especially when people are not communicating in their first language
The need to establish high levels of trust across cultures, in order for development conversations to be effective

Differences between Asian and Western cultures were consistently reported as a particular challenge by respondents with 50% of organisations reporting this as an issue.

Companies identified many key employee development processes that are impacted by these cultural hurdles. For example, 60% of organisations said that coaching relationships can be much tougher to establish in some cultures than in others. Giving feedback can also present challenges, with one company finding that its Chinese employees quit after receiving challenging feedback.

“This issue has a big impact on global organisations”, says Ci’s founder Jonathan Winter. “Although they are increasingly aware of the need to encourage meaningful dialogue with employees about their careers and development, only a few have really taken on board the additional complexities overlaid by the cross-cultural dimension. Left unresolved the cross-cultural conversation gap hits the bottom line in a way companies can ill afford in today’s tough times.”

Organisations who are placing the strongest focus on building their employees’ cross-cultural competence report significant benefits including improved attraction and retention rates.

Following on from this study and Ci’s previous Conversation Gap research, Ci will be developing its existing career tools and approaches to encourage more leaders to develop cross-cultural thinking as part of their everyday style. Winter offers an example of how this will be incorporated, “Our Engaging Conversations multi-rater tool is already helping mangers around the world improve their staff dialogue skills and habits. We’re going to take that to the next stage and incorporate the cross-cultural dimension”.

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Documentary Series on ‘Reverse Migration’

Documentary Series on ‘Reverse Migration’


Does the country of your parents’ or grandparents’ birth fascinate you? Would you consider moving there for a better standard of living?

Britain may once have seemed like the land of opportunity, but now, with the downturn in the economy, thousands of British born people are leaving for the promise of a better life where their families came from originally – in countries like India, Africa, China, Hong Kong and the Caribbean.

In Bangalore alone, the southern Indian IT city, more than 40,000 Indian IT professionals are estimated to have arrived back from the US and UK to take up work. There are exciting career and business opportunities for people with western education and experience, and there is a growing trend of ‘Reverse Migration’ to many countries from the UK.

Ricochet, the makers of Channel 4's 'No Going Back' and “Super Nanny” are producing a new TV series that follows this trend for a new documentary series.

Four 2nd or 3rd generation British families will be given the opportunity to 'road test' a new life in the country of their parents or grandparents for several months, to find out about jobs, schools and housing. They might like it so much; they decide they want to stay.

If you and your family are thinking about making such a move, or have always wanted to find out what life would be like where your parents or grandparents come from; then please contact us on the following:

Call: 01273 224 816
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web: www.Ricochet.co.uk

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Intercultural Teams



The complex work of modern knowledge intensive industries requires input from a variety of professions and skill sets, more than a lone worker can be expected to master. And since business is rapidly globalizing, managers can expect to work with teams whose members represent multiple cultural approaches to interpersonal relationships, work, and structures.

In such a situation, opportunities for misunderstanding and miscommunication abound, but the opportunity for magnifying the productivity of the group into deeper and more robust results is also great. What resources can a manager bring to the orchestrating of work in a multicultural team?


Approaches to Team and Group Work in Different Cultures

North American and Western Europe exemplify cultures in which individuals expect to compete, putting forth their own ideas forcefully in the expectation that others can be persuaded to go along with the one whose idea is most powerfully expressed. Such an approach to work in a group can be expected to generate a great deal of “noise”: conflict, debate and friction. Successful groups working within this paradigm will channel their competition into improving the work itself, but the obvious danger is that the conflict can become interpersonal, with emotional overtones interfering with the task at hand.

Read more > Teams

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Fire Service recruitment campaign aims to ethnic diversity

Fire Service recruitment campaign aims to ethnic diversity



The government has launched a recruitment campaign targeting ethnic minorities and women to help the Fire Service reach its new equality targets.

Earlier this month the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) agreed to targets demanding that by 2013, 15% of all recruits to the operational sector are women - an increase from the 2008 recruitment figure of 9.2% - and that the proportion of ethnic minority staff is representative of the local community.

A report by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) had revealed that just 5% of FRS employees were from an ethnic minority background, while just 3.3% of operational staff were female.

The new campaign is designed to change attitudes and perceptions towards a career with the force - focusing specifically on women and ethnic minority groups - rather than the development of a national recruitment campaign.

The exact nature of the campaign is still under discussion but it will run across a range of media platforms, including advertising, online and events.

Read more > Fire Service
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Nursing and Intercultural Dynamics

Nursing and Intercultural Dynamics



Transcultural nursing with established clinical approached to clients with varying cultures are relatively new. According to Madeleine Leininger (1987) founder of the filed of transcultural nursing in the mid 1960s. The education of nursing students in this field is only now beginning to yield  significant results.

Today  nurses with a deeper appreciation of human life and values are developing cultural sensitivity for appropriate individualized clinical approaches.

Religious and Cultural knowledge is an important ingredient in health care. If the client do not respond as nurse expects the nurse may interpret it as unconcern or resistance the nurse then can be anxious and frustrated in order to incorporate cultural knowledge in care cultural knowledge in care.

It is important to understand some definition and cultural components that are important in health care.

For a nurse to successfully provide care for a client of a different cultural or ethnic to background, effective intercultural communication must take place. Intercultural communication occurs when each person attempts to understand the other’s point of   view from his or her own cultural frame of reference. Effective intercultural communication is facilitated by the nurse identification of areas of commonalities. After reaching a cultural. understanding, the nurse must consider cultural factor throughout the nursing process.

Major Nursing organizations have emphasized in the last decade the importance of considering culture factors when delivering nursing care.

According to the American Nurses’ s Association (1976)”Consideration of individual value systems and lifestyles should be included in the planning and health care for each client Nursing curriculum recognize the contribution nursing to the health care needs of a diverse and multi cultural society life-style may ret1ect cultural heritage.

Culture-Broadly defines set of values, beliefs and traditions, that are held by a specific group of people and handed down from generation to generation. Culture is also beliefs, habits, likes, dislikes, customs and rituals learn from one’s family. (Specter 1991)

Culture is the learned, shared and transmitted values, beliefs, norms and life way practices of a particular group that guide thinking, decisions, and actions in patterned ways.

Religion:  Is a set of belief in a divine or super human power (or powers) to be obeyed and worshipped as the creator and ruler of the universe? Ethical values and religion system of beliefs and practices, difference within the culture and across culture are found

Ethnic: refers to a group of people who share a common and distinctive culture and who are members of a specific group.

Culture-universals: commonalities of values, norms of behavior, and life patterns that are similar among different cultures.

Culture-specifies ; values, beliefs, and patterns of behavior that tend to be unique to a designate culture.

Cultural shock:-the state of being disoriented or unable to respond to a different cultural environment because of its sudden strangeness, unfamiliarity, and incompatibility to the stranger's perceptions and expectations at is differentiated from others by symbolic markers (cultures, biology, territory, religion).

Read more > Nursing
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Expatriate Bankers Are Cut Loose

Expatriate Bankers Are Cut Loose



Losing your job anywhere is disorienting, but imagine being laid off when you work in a foreign country. Not only is your source of income, and perhaps a good part of your identity, suddenly yanked away, but often you lose your right to remain in the country.

Sandra Johnson, left, president of the Kensington and Chelsea Women’s Club in London, said membership was dropping. International recruiters like Sonamara Jeffreys in London, right, say that laid-off Americans with 30 days to leave Britain are looking for jobs back home.

Add to that urgent disruption the calamity of a collapsing industry and you have the life more or less of thousands of American expatriates in banking and finance.

The archetype of the young international banker cut one of the most dashing figures of the age of globalization. Well-educated and well-connected, able to take their pick of jobs, they skipped across employers like they did countries for weekend getaways.

As recently as last fall, financial professionals who lost their jobs as Wall Street bled could hope for new positions overseas. But layoffs have spread quickly from New York to Europe and now to the Mideast and Asia, leaving a growing number of jobless expats, as they are known, with few places to turn and either stranded or forced to return home.

A rhyming refrain among laid-off bankers a few months ago — “Try Dubai, Mumbai and Shanghai” — now seems hopelessly dated. Financial markets in all three cities have crashed.

Read more > Bankers
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Working abroad improves your skills

Working abroad improves your skills



In his  14-year career as an industrial and electrical engineer, Carlos Founaud has worked or done business in Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Portugal, Germany, Britain, Australia, and Italy before returning to his native Spain.

“I called myself a multicultural interface,” he laughs. “If something broke down, the Spanish way was to focus on the problem—let’s have a look, make a decision, and do it. The Austrian way was to find out who’s guilty. The British way was to open the manuals and find the different procedures for fixing it—and afterward go to the pub.”

Founaud has found that this multicultural approach to problem solving, while maddening at times, has also made him better at his job. Now general managing director of iA Soft Aragón, a Saragossa firm that develops public administration software, he seeks out foreign programmers specifically to challenge the procedural mind-set on his home turf.

Foreign postings often offer more autonomy and responsibility, a faster pace, higher pay, and tax breaks, as well as the adventure of foreign lands and languages. The posts can also improve your skills.

Read more > Skills
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Technology and Global Mobility

Technology and Global Mobility
Geeta Gwalani explores how the optimum use of technology can be achieved in the context of global mobility programs of organisations.

The use of information technology within human resource (HR) management has increased greatly during recent years, with most organisations now using technology to some extent in their management of HR.

Some believe that HR practitioners have become more focused on adding strategic value within an organisation and becoming a business partner to line managers. A number of authors have suggested that technology may be used within HR to facilitate this shift in the role of the HR function, including Edward Lawler and Susan Mohrman in their 2003 Human Resource Planning article, 'HR as a Strategic Partner: What Does it Take to Make it Happen,' and Samir Shrivastava and James Shaw in their 2003 Human Resource Management article, 'Liberating HR through Technology.' However, HR functions also have been under pressure to reduce costs and make efficiency savings, sometimes achieved by outsourcing parts of the function, but often through streamlining the transactional aspects of the work by means of call centres, self-service, and a greater use of new technology.

The use of technology within HR has increased rapidly during recent years, with 77 percent of organisations using some form of HRIS in 2005, according to a paper published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Read more > Mobility
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Ethnic Minorties to be protected during recession

Ethnic Minorties to be protected during recession



People from ethnic minority groups could receive additional financial support as a result of government fears they will be hardest hit during the recession.

At Labour's Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic annual general meeting in Leicester, work and pensions secretary James Purnell announced an initiative to ensure that no ethnic minority worker would be "left behind".

Purnell warned that employment levels among people from ethnic minorities fell by 10% in the last recession, and said it was important to ensure such mistakes were not repeated.

"In the past too many were left behind in bad times. Ethnic minority workers suffered most in the Tory recessions," he said.

Mr Purnell said the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) had agreed to work with the government to assess whether any groups were suffering disproportionately in the recession, and to advise ministers about corrective measures.

Read more > HR News
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The Intercultural Library

The Intercultural Library



Immigrants will now be able to access learning aids in their own language, information about life in their new homeland or literature in their mother tongue in German libraries, thanks to a new intercultural web portal for library users and staff, launched by the German Library Association (Deutscher Bibliotheksverband, dbv).

Via “springboards” for more than 20 languages, the Intercultural Library provides information on stocks of foreign-language books in public libraries in Germany and also links to texts for library work, multilingual glossaries and online dictionaries, multilanguage online information services and other information portals. The library-work-related level comprises texts and links to integration strategies, professional literature, professional forums, organisations and associations, and also practical examples from other libraries at home and abroad. Within this context, special emphasis is laid on topics such as “Life in Germany”, “Promoting reading and writing” and “Health”, experience having shown that demand for information and source texts on these topics is especially high.

Read more > Goethe Institut

What Kwintessential says:

This is an exciting and interesting initiative by the Goethe Institut which addresses the issues of immigration, language, cultural understanding and the integration of foreigners. Such projects should be seen as the way forward for other countries seeking to implement ways of bringing foreigners into the country and having them understand their new neighbours, colleagues and countrymen.
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The Intercultural Library

The Intercultural Library



Immigrants will now be able to access learning aids in their own language, information about life in their new homeland or literature in their mother tongue in German libraries, thanks to a new intercultural web portal for library users and staff, launched by the German Library Association (Deutscher Bibliotheksverband, dbv).

Via “springboards” for more than 20 languages, the Intercultural Library provides information on stocks of foreign-language books in public libraries in Germany and also links to texts for library work, multilingual glossaries and online dictionaries, multilanguage online information services and other information portals. The library-work-related level comprises texts and links to integration strategies, professional literature, professional forums, organisations and associations, and also practical examples from other libraries at home and abroad. Within this context, special emphasis is laid on topics such as “Life in Germany”, “Promoting reading and writing” and “Health”, experience having shown that demand for information and source texts on these topics is especially high.

Read more > Goethe Institut

What Kwintessential says:

This is an exciting and interesting initiative by the Goethe Institut which addresses the issues of immigration, language, cultural understanding and the integration of foreigners. Such projects should be seen as the way forward for other countries seeking to implement ways of bringing foreigners into the country and having them understand their new neighbours, colleagues and countrymen.
Continue reading