Tag Archives: cultural diversity
Globe and Covid19

Starting a business (and keep running it) is hard work. I mean hard! But it is all worth the time, money, and effort invested in the end for those who have a passion, a plan, and a reliable support system. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride, though. Between the rewarding highs of seeing the spark of interest in a student’s eyes or the genuinely thankful client, you were able to help. Then, there are the lows of the stress and responsibilities that come with being an entrepreneur, and you might wonder if you did the right thing or if you are going to make it. But the freedom to focus your energy on what you have most at heart allows you to grow, live for your purpose and live from it too!

It requires a lot of discipline, physical and mental fitness, and friends who will not leave you if you have not been in touch for more than a week. You need a life partner and family who is entirely behind your decision, and you need to be prepared to work harder than ever. After almost ten years of building and running an offline and online business with freelancers in different locations and a diverse client base, I consider myself a pro.

A few years ago, the business drained of resources, savings used up, and I had invested in two additional courses. 

I was ready to give up and get a full-time job.

I even had said “yes” to a full-time job offer. But then “fate” kicked in. In a very relaxed moment during our first RockMeRetreat, I knew the answer was a clear “No.” 

I was not ready to start a full-time job in a leadership role again, where I would spend all my energy on maneuvering politics, playing the game, coaching a team, and sitting at a desk for more than six hours a day.

Yes, I was very disappointed when the company told me that they wanted to hire somebody else. I was down and scared, but at the same time, I was relieved. And I knew this feeling. It was the freedom smell. 

Deep down inside, you know that you will always fall back on your feet and have all the skills within you to make a living. 

This post is not a pep talk on how we should leap out of our comfort zone and fight for survival daily because this adrenaline level is not suitable in the long run. We only need this kind of adrenaline in an actual emergency during a tornado or a Coronavirus pandemic but not every day for years on end. 

A job is great. A paycheck is wonderful. A sick day is sensational. A sponsored coffee is amazing. A paid holiday is fantastic. A burnout isn’t. 

You probably wonder how you keep the energy drainers out of your work environment, and my advice about this is a simple one: Focus on your well-being first. Focus on that as long as you need, stop eating junk food, walk regularly, stop working after six hours and change your routine to fit your life. Most of the issues we have at work come from our fear of not being enough. We overcompensate. You might think that you need to achieve that next level, subsequent promotion, or next salary band. Then you will have a wonderful life. But let me be honest with you: There is a price you pay for that. And this price might not be what you are looking for right now.

I am in favor of abandoning many of the typical HR systems. Let us give our people the benefit of the doubt again and help them find their intrinsic motivation. We should help them work in projects where they can thrive, help them develop client relationships they will find engaging, and above all, we should change lives. Passion is a better driver than security for entrepreneurs as employees. 

And if you doubt now how you can help your team get to that level, we should have a conversation. I would say that first of all: Everybody still has a ton to learn in this world. 

Understanding that we are always learning is the first step towards growth. Many people, especially women, need help to find the confidence to move ahead. In Switzerland, many women grew up in a male-dominated environment where they learned to work more than their peers to be recognized, and when they tried to move up the ladder and had to show their teeth.

Then a manager told them that they were too aggressive and too pushy. They started to have self-doubts and fell into a complacent state where moving up was no longer an option. I know many excellent women, but they neither sell themselves nor get enough credit for their work. They run departments silently in the background, while a male colleague gets the bonus and the honors. 

I committed last year to help more people outside of the “circle of trust.” My team and I started helping more diverse women. We worked with women in and from developing countries, women with more seniority, and women from minority backgrounds. 

Whatever their backgrounds, women with young children also face obstacles and prejudice in the labor market. Managers often assume they will miss work when their children are sick or that they will leave early. 

As an HR Professional, I’m ashamed to say that, but we diligently exclude certain people from the workforce here in Switzerland, depriving them of the fundamental right to work. It’s not always intentional, but we cannot always blame unconscious bias for our decisions. Some companies forgo excellent candidates because the humans who make up that company cannot move beyond their prejudice about women (even more so if they come from developing countries, have young children, have gaps in their resume, or are LGBTQ+, or disabled). 

It is frequent for people with a refugee background who cannot produce the required papers and certificates for specific jobs to face many challenges when accessing the job market. People suffering from mental health problems such as depression and talents who might be on the autism spectrum or have schizophrenia face numerous barriers when searching for a job. 

We might not be able to create a significant groundswell today and start a revolution, BUT we can change lives, one person at a time. Join us in our mission. We’re on a mission to bring the Human Touch back into Global Mobility.

Kind regards

Angie

 

P.S. 

Do you work in Human Resources or a closely related area? I’m giving away VIP passes to the HRMSummit in Bahrain. It’s an online event and geared towards HR professionals. Respond VIP to enter our raffle. We need to have your professional email address, professional title and employer in order to forward your details to the organizers.

Cultural Overlaps

By Sara Micacchioni

Yachi Namamoto is Japanese, an expatriate residing in Hawaii, and a quiet intelligent individual. Though he initially is shy with strangers, he likes a lot to play host for his friends. In conversations, he will demonstrate techniques of jujitsu, in which he holds a high-ranking belt. He will also talk about the incidents that he experienced in his travels throughout Asia and America. Brought up in a middle-class, though relatively traditional home, Yachi Namamoto finished high school and taught ikebana, the art of flower arrangement. In high school, he became a member of a splinter faction of the Zengakuren, the militant student movement in Japan. He participated actively in numerous demonstrations and student revolts too.

How would you describe Yachi Namamoto? Do you think he identifies more as a Japanese or a Hawaii resident? Maybe he applied to and obtained his Green Card and he’s now a US citizen. Perhaps, sometimes he introduces himself as an expatriate and ikebana teacher, and other times as a middle-class man who is into politics. 

Like Yachi Namamoto, we all hold multiple intersecting identities which define who we are and how we understand and experience the world. When we think of these identities individually, they are just a snapshot. In fact, depending on the context in which we find ourselves, the importance, salience and awareness of certain identities change. This means that the perception we and the others have of our identities not only varies during the course of our lives, but it may change throughout the same day. At the same time, other identities might as well fade away in time as a result of growing older and having different responsibilities in life. For example, “student identity” may be a rather central one during university time, but it then gradually fades away in favour of other features such as “career identity” once graduates move onto different stages of their lives. 

And if you were to conceptualize your own understanding of who you are, what are the most important identities that come to your mind? 

How might others think of your identities? Is this answer similar or different than the first one?

Like Gardenswarts and Rowe (2003) point out, there are many aspects of identity, such as age, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, ethnicity, race, parental and marital status, religion, union affiliation, department or unit group, etc. The list is actually much longer.

The way our multiple identities overlap is a fundamental symbol of our existence and functioning aspect of our individual personality, placed at the core of the scheme proposed by the two authors. 

The Kaleidoscope of Identities

Imagine a kaleidoscope with several different colorful pieces. Think about those pieces as your relevant identities. There are also three mirrors, and depending on the lens through which you observe the reflection, different patterns are generated. With a turn of the lens, one can see things from a different perspective and understand better what all the identities at play are.

Very often, we are too focused on our national identity, which we often use to describe ourselves in an international context where, given the abundance of nationalities, our national identity becomes more relevant. In fact, even if we rarely think of ourselves in these terms, we are a patchwork of multiple identities. We act according to certain internalized roles, rules, norms and functions which are typical of certain subcultures. 

Who we are is not individually determined by the single subcultures to which we belong. Rather, psychologically and socially, we are the result of the overlap of all these subcultures taken together and each person’s identity is shaped by this multiplicity of traits. As we said earlier, they are generally all equally relevant at the same time, though they always co-exist. They can also confer privilege and power or can be marked by oppression and marginalization.

Try to recall a situation in which you might have had a wrong impression about someone and think of what made you change your mind. 

About Sara

Author's Headshot
Sara

Sara Micacchioni is currently working as Academic Intern at Global People Transitions, where she is responsible for research and quality assurance projects. At the beginning of 2020, she graduated from an international English-taught master degree in Intercultural Management at the University of Burgundy, France. In the past, she also carried out several short-term and long-term voluntary work projects in Europe and South America.
Sara lived, studied, and worked in seven European countries and speaks four foreign languages. She considers herself an interculturalist with a real passion for globetrotting. In her mission to travel the world, she has now ticked off 30 countries globally.

Resources

Adler, P. (November 2002). ‘Beyond Cultural Identity: Reflections on Multiculturalism’. Retrieved May 6, 2020, from https://www.mediate.com/articles/adler3.cfm#comments

Gardenswartz, L & Rowe, A. (2003). Diverse Teams at Work: Capitalizing on the Power of Diversity, Society For Human Resource Management.

Ngo, C. (2014). ‘Kaleidoscope of identities’. Tedx UOregon. University of Oregon. Retrieved May 6, 2020, from  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRGqgNuJDIk

Blogs

Edgar Schein on Culture