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.

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.
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CILT research into Intercultural Skills

CILT research into Intercultural Skills



CILT is now entering the second phase of its research into an occupational and functional map for languages and intercultural skills and is currently consulting on the cross-sector applications of languages and intercultural skills in the workplace.

You can contribute to their research

If you are a employer involved in the management or recruitment of any roles using language or intercultural skills or if you are an employee using your language or intercultural skills in your job, they would like to hear from you. They’ve prepared a short questionnaire that should take no more than 5-10 minutes to complete.

Your views are essential to this project. Please download and complete our questionnaire and return it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday 27th February. If you have any questions or comments about the project, you can email those to the same address.
Alternatively, their research team are conducting one-to-one telephone interviews with employers, employees and key stakeholders. If you have a lot of knowledge with regard to a particular role, or roles, and its (their) use of language or intercultural skills, it would be very helpful to talk to you. Please contact CILT directly to discuss your particular perspective.
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HR challenge for Gulf States

HR challenge for Gulf States



Gulf oil producers have made substantial progress in economic development because of their massive crude resources but they will always remain reliant on foreign labour, a United Nations official said yesterday.

Adel Abdul Lateef, Director of Regional Programmes at the Regional UN Development Programme Office, said the six Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries still face the challenge of human resources development despite their remarkable economic achievements over the last 50 years.

One of the problems he cited was that GCC nationals still account for a low percentage of the workforce in most member states as they prefer the public sector in the absence of attractive incentives in the private sector.

"The GCC economies will always surpass the production capacity of the native population and this will make these economies permanently reliant on expatriate labour from all sides," he told a human resources conference in Abu Dhabi.

"The GCC's long-term strategies must take into account the rapid demographic consequences resulting from this steady development whether in terms of rights and duties for expatriates or the number of nationals and their contribution to all economic aspects and values."

Abdul Lateef said the large expatriate presence in the GCC has become a permanent phenomenon, which has "not only offset a sharp labour shortage during the oil boom but also largely contributed to the expansion of the GCC market in terms of commodities and services".

"There is no doubt this large foreign presence has become a controversial topic of discussion and has raised economic, political, cultural and strategic issues over the past period due to a steady increase in this presence."

Read more > Foreign Labour
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India turns away from expats to home-grown talent

India turns away from expats to home-grown talent



Expatriate executives, who were the flavour of the season when India was riding high on a 9%-plus growth rate, are now becoming the first ones to get the pink slip as Indian industry, hit by the slowdown, starts looking within the country for inexpensive hires.

“Many of the expatriate executives, who have been asked to leave, are subject experts. Their value diminishes in a downturn as companies are no more expanding, and thus don’t need people to guide in a new venture,” says K Sudarshan, MD of executive search firm EMA Partners’ India unit.

Since October 2008, there has been a spate of replacements of expat executives with Indian professionals at the senior level.

Read more > India
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Cultural competence key to future work

Cultural competence key to future work



With all the talk of layoffs and company closings, it’s easy to forget that most work-force-ready Americans are not unemployed, however tenuous their jobs may seem. After all, the corollary to a 7 percent or 8 percent unemployment rate would have to be an employment rate in the 90s. That’s a lot of people who would like to keep their jobs, and Mary Beth Lamb, a Minneapolis-based consultant, believes she knows how they can do it. In two words: cultural competence.

Or global competence, if you prefer. Lamb, who has worked on five continents, says the key to future employment lies in developing a global mind-set. “We need to recognize that people from different cultures think differently,” she said. “There is a diversity of thought, language, style, behavior. Awareness is really the first step, and then acceptance and skill building are next” in the process of building such a mind-set.

Why should anyone go to this trouble when the United States has been the dominant force in business worldwide? The obvious answer is that dominance is not guaranteed; some would say that it is already waning. On the other hand, even a scenario where the United States maintains its leadership places us squarely in the world marketplace, where the need for cultural competence seems only to grow.

Read more > AMY LINDGREN

What is Cultural Competence?

As a company involved in cultural awareness training, we are often asked for a definition of intercultural competence. In short, there is no one answer that can be given to this question. Intercultural competence is a term that can be applied by many different people for many different reasons. As a result the definitions change depending on the angle at which people are looking at it from.

In essence intercultural competence can be summed up as the ability to work well across cultures. Yet, many will not agree with such a simple definition. As a way of presenting all the different opinions on the matter, we scoured some sources to see how others define intercultural competence. Here are the results:

>> "..the overall capability of an individual to manage key challenging features of intercultural communication: namely, cultural differences and unfamiliarity, inter-group dynamics, and the tensions and conflicts that can accompany this process."

by staff at Universität des Saarlandes

>> Intercultural competence ".means that a student understands a variety of significant cultural experiences and/or achievements of individuals who are identified by ethnicity, race, religion, gender, physical/mental disability, or sexual orientation; the cultural history of various social groups within a society; the interrelations between dominant and non-dominant cultures, either in the United States or elsewhere, and the dynamics of difference."

By Penn State

>> "A simple definition, however, might be: the abilities to perform effectively and appropriately with members of another language-culture background on their terms."

By Alvino E. Fantini, Ph.D., School for International Training, Brattleboro, Vermont

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Christian bus driver refuses to drive buses with atheist ad

Christian bus driver refuses to drive buses with atheist ad



A bus company is attempting to accommodate the religious views of an employee who refused to drive vehicles displaying atheist advertising.

A Christian bus driver Ron Heather, from Southampton, Hampshire, has refused to drive a bus with an atheist slogan proclaiming "There's probably no God". He responded with "shock" and "horror" at the message and walked out of his shift on Saturday in protest.

His employer, First Bus, said it would do everything in its power to ensure Heather does not have to drive the buses.

When he returned to work last Monday, he was called into a meeting with managers and agreed to go back to work with the promise he would only have to drive the buses if there were no others available.

Audrey Williams, head of discrimination law at Eversheds, said: "The employer has been pragmatic and accommodating in its approach."

Read more > Bus Driver

What we say:

Religion in the workplace is of great importance today, especially in the UK with the passing of the The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. This story portrays nicely a case where the employer used common sense to bring about a positive outcome for the employee.

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Execs willing to work abroad in 2009

The majority of executives around the world indicated that they are willing to relocate internationally for job opportunities in today's tumultuous economy, according to Korn/Ferry's latest Executive Quiz. The Executive Quiz released by The Korn/Ferry Institute focused on perceptions about the labor market. The online survey was conducted in September and October, just as volatility in the financial markets elevated concerns surrounding unemployment around the world.


According to the survey findings, 85 percent of respondents said that they expect more job losses in the global labor market in 2009, and 78 percent expected unemployment to rise in Q4 2008.  Given the perceived volatility in the labor market, executives report an extreme willingness to chase job opportunities around the world; a surprising 84 percent of executives say they are willing to consider relocating, with 55 percent willing to move internationally for their next position.

"This is a very dynamic time in the global labor market, and while the overall demand for talent will certainly rise over time, job creation may be in different locations than today's talent pools are clustered,” said Sergio Averbach, President of Korn/Ferry International, South America.  In countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China the world's "fastest growing economies" it's not uncommon to see unemployment temporarily increase as labor supply and demand find a new equilibrium in such geographies and different industries."

The results showed a contradiction when respondents were asked about their own company's hiring plans. Nearly half “ 47 percent“ said their companies were hiring even in the current economic environment. Another 27 percent said their companies were in a hiring freeze. Only 26 percent stated that their company was currently downsizing.

Read more > Survey
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Calls for radical action to boost minority managers

Calls for radical action to boost minority managers



Urgent action is required to boost the number of ethnic minority managers in UK workplaces, according to an equality lobbying group.

A study by Race for Opportunity - part of the Business in the Community campaign group of employers - analysed office labour market statistics between 2000 and 2007, and found ethnic minorities have not been gaining the share of jobs that their proportion in the wider UK population would justify. The gap between the overall ethnic minority population and those in managerial positions is even greater, with the report warning that, based on current trends, ethnic minority managers will never be in line with their representation in the wider population.

The Race to the Top report showed that more than one in 10 of the UK population comes from an ethnic minority group, yet just one in 15, or 6.8%, were in a management position at the end of 2007.

Read more >> Management
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Ethnic minorities employment prospects fail to improve

Ethnic minorities employment prospects fail to improve



The employment prospects of some of the UK's ethnic minorities have failed to improve and may well have declined markedly since the 1970s, according to research.

A study by research professors at both Manchester and Oxford universities found that minority ethnic groups had a much harder chance of finding work as their white counterparts, and that employment for ethnics had got worse since the 1970s. The news comes as the number of people out of work grew to 1.86 million in the three months to October – up 137,000 from the three months to July.

Anthony Heath, a professor at the University of Oxford, called on the government to do more to improve employment for ethnic minorities: “Previous government attempts to use legislation have failed to narrow the gap, although the proposals in the Queen's Speech this month may offer some hope of progress.”

Read more >> Employment
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The burden of Expatriate life

The burden of Expatriate life



More and more workers have relocated abroad in recent years, but despite the growing numbers, family issues remain a major factor in the failure of overseas postings.

The initial excitement of an exotic new posting can turn to culture shock, loneliness, identity loss and depression, and it is often the employee's spouse and children — without the familiar routine of work — who are most affected.

"I thought it would be an adventure, and it was," said Francesca Kelly, an American who moved 10 times in the first nine years as a Foreign Service spouse, living in places like Belgrade and the former Soviet Union during the cold war. But it "was much more difficult than I ever imagined it would be."

Brenda Fender, director of global initiatives for Worldwide ERC, a not-for-profit association concerned with work force mobility, said a family's happiness was crucial. "If the family cannot adapt, the employee will likely not succeed," she said.

And not succeeding can be expensive.

Scott Sullivan, senior vice president at GMAC Global Relocation Services, told the story of a man from Cleveland with an important role in building a large manufacturing plant in rural China. He left the project midway through and returned home when his wife and child became desperately unhappy. This disrupted the project, a joint venture with a Chinese company, which then backed out — a loss for the American company of hundreds of millions of dollars, Sullivan said, and it could have been avoided with a better assessment before the man left home.

Read more >>> IHT
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Is E-Learning the future?

Is E-Learning the future?



The vast movement towards e-learning is clearly motivated by the many benefits it offers. However much e-learning is praised and innovated, computers will never completely eliminate human instructors and other forms of educational delivery. What is important is to know exactly what e-learning advantages exist and when these outweigh the limitations of the medium.

Features Unique to e-Learning

Like no other training form, e-learning promises to provide a single experience that accommodates the three distinct learning styles of auditory learners, visual learners, and kinesthetic learners. Other unique opportunities created by the advent and development of e-learning are more efficient training of a globally dispersed audience; and reduced publishing and distribution costs as Web-based training becomes a standard.

E-learning also offers individualized instruction, which print media cannot provide, and instructor-led courses allow clumsily and at great cost. In conjunction with assessing needs, e-learning can target specific needs. And by using learning style tests, e-learning can locate and target individual learning preferences.

Additionally, synchronous e-learning is self-paced. Advanced learners are allowed to speed through or bypass instruction that is redundant while novices slow their own progress through content, eliminating frustration with themselves, their fellow learners, and the course.

In these ways, e-learning is inclusive of a maximum number of participants with a maximum range of learning styles, preferences, and needs.

Collaborative Learning

All collaborative learning theory contends that human interaction is a vital ingredient to learning. Consideration of this is particularly crucial when designing e-learning, realizing the potential for the medium to isolate learners. With well-delivered synchronous distance education, and technology like message boards, chats, e-mail, and tele-conferencing, this potential drawback is reduced. However, e-learning detractors still argue that the magical classroom bond between teacher and student, and among the students themselves, can not be replicated through communications technology.

Read more >>> Kevin Kruse
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Global Skills for an International Career

Global Skills for an International Career



As an international careers adviser, I receive questions daily from people of varied backgrounds who hope to try their luck in the global marketplace. Many job seekers mistakenly believe that they can’t begin an international career until their feet are on foreign soil. They overlook their own backyard for resources and training opportunities.

The Most Sought-After Skills

What do international employers really look for in employees and what skills will be needed by professionals to perform successfully in the global marketplace?

A study commissioned by the College Placement Council Foundation surveyed 32 international employers and colleges to determine what international employers seek in prospective employees. They identified the following areas of required knowledge and skills:

Domain knowledge

Colleges in the U.S. are presently preparing their graduates well in domain knowledge, or knowledge in one’s academic discipline, although employers expressed concern that increasingly greater demands and higher standards may soon result in inadequately prepared graduates.

The three most important skills were cognitive skills, social skills, and “personal traits.” Problem-solving ability, decision making, and knowing how to learn are highly prized generic skills. Social skills were described as the ability to work effectively in group settings, particularly with diverse populations. Personal traits mentioned frequently included flexibility, adaptability, and the capacity to be innovative. Employers often mentioned that colleges do not adequately address this type of skill development.

Cross-cultural competence

Students must make a concerted effort to acquire the knowledge, skills, and traits gained through cross-cultural interaction because we are more geographically and linguistically insulated than most other countries.

On-the-job training and prior work experience. Employers seek applicants who have been successful in applying their domain knowledge or academic studies and generic skills in the workplace. They say that colleges do not place sufficient emphasis on work experience.

Read more >> By Debra Peters-Behrens
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New national standards on intercultural respect at work

New national standards on intercultural respect at work



The first ever National Occupational Standards for working with people from different countries or diverse cultures will be launched today at a high profile event in central London. The new Standards provide a quality benchmark for building mutual respect, improving communication and workforce relations, and reducing racism.

The new National Occupations Standards for Intercultural Working describe the skills, knowledge and understanding required by anyone wishing to work effectively in a multicultural environment. They can be used to inform policy and procedures, provide a good practice guide for human resources professionals, and identify training needs to promote social and community cohesion.

CILT, the National Centre for Languages led the government-funded project to develop the new Standards, which were approved by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills in September 2008. Today’s launch celebrates the completion of the project, which has involved hundreds of organisations, employers and individuals from across the UK over the past two years.

Read more >> CILT
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BA clerk loses crucifix row appeal

BA clerk loses crucifix row appeal



A British Airways (BA) check-in clerk who claimed she was religiously discriminated against for wearing a crucifix on a necklace has lost her appeal case.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has upheld the employment tribunal's ruling from earlier this year, that Nadia Eweida was not indirectly discriminated against on the grounds of her religion when her employer insisted the cross worn on her neckline be concealed by her uniform.

Eweida was suspended in September 2006, after she refused to conceal a small crucifix at her post at Heathrow Airport, claiming it was her human right to express her faith by having the crucifix on display. She returned to work in February 2007 after BA revised its uniform policy.

Eweida claimed discrimination on the grounds of her religion and had sought £20,000 in back pay and compensation from the airline. She said that she turned down £8,500 from BA to settle out of court.

Read more > BA
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Intercultural Skills are Crucial say HR Leaders



According to a survey of more than 100 senior human resource managers, 81 percent of companies agree that international work experience is a crucial criterion for leadership in a global organization.

The survey, "The Importance of Cultural Skills in Senior Managers," conducted by RW-3 LLC, an online intercultural training organization, and ORC Worldwide, a global human resource consulting firm, was designed to measure the importance of cultural competencies and global experience as criteria for senior management.

"During the current liquidity crisis, we've seen yet again how the global economy is entirely interconnected and how international cooperation is critical for the world's economic well being," said Michael S. Schell, president of RW-3. "Understanding and appreciating how things get done in countries around the world is crucial for success. That means gaining an appreciation and understanding of culture. This survey reinforces how important the global HR community believes those intercultural skills are for their leadership."

 

If you'd like more information about providing the very best online cultural training for your organisation then click here. 

 

Alternatively, click here if you woud like to explore the opportunity for live webinar training with one of our specialist intercultural trainers. 

 

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TV Series on Exploring Cultural Heritage

PLANNING TO EXPLORE YOUR FAMILY ROOTS?

Ricochet TV are looking for families who are either planning, or would like the opportunity to plan, amazing journey of discovery back to their parents’ country of origin for a new TV series.

If you would like to take a trip to get back in touch with your cultural heritage, then give us a call on 01273 224800 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Managing Asian Cultural Diversity: Cross-cultural Issues in Asia

Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Managing Asian Cultural Diversity: Cross-cultural Issues in Asia" report to their offering.

Managing Asian cultural diversity can be very complex for Western companies. Each country has its own culture, history, ideology, language and philosophy: a strategy in Taiwan may not work in China, and vice versa. Understanding the local mentality, beliefs, and even linguistic traits can make a world of difference in managing Asian employees effectively. Please attend our April 8, 2008 webcast on Asian Cross-Cultural Issues. This 90-minute session will include a 60-minute presentation, followed by 30 minutes of Q&A.
The following topics are covered in this webcast:

-Diversity of Asian Cultures
-Erroneous Assumptions about Asian Cultures
-Comparison of Key Asian Cultural Concepts
-Cultural Impact on Asian Management Issues
-Common Challenges in Managing Asian Diversity
-Strategies for Effective Asian Management
-Benchmarking Practices for Global Effectiveness

For more information visit Research Markets
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