Category Archives: Global Leaders

Disrupting The Default: On Being a Female Breadwinner in Switzerland

by Susan Platt

When my husband and I started talking about raising a family a few years ago, he proposed to become a SAHD. He had moved from California to Switzerland to be with me and I had been the main source of income as well as the financial manager in our relationship from the get-go.

As I have always been passionate about work, this set-up suited us both and him transitioning into assuming a larger domestic role once we had a baby seemed natural. So when that little blue line on the pregnancy test hit the plus, we were pretty well prepared on the home front.

Work wise – however – the timing was less than optimal. I had just left a steady but bland employment in a large law firm to accept a position in a not-for-profit animal rights foundation and was in the first week (!) of a trial period when I found out I was expecting. Talk about bad timing… Luckily, the guys I worked for were very understanding about my pregnancy.

Although I had accepted this position at 100% when I started out, I knew that having zero family time with my baby girl during the workweek was not something I could – or wanted to – handle. So I negotiated an 80% quota with two afternoons off during the week upon my return to work and promised to come in on those days in case of emergencies. Turned out that the emergencies could wait at least half a day most of the time…

In the following years, my desire to grow professionally saw me evolve into increasingly more executive positions. However, none of those employments came with a ready-made solution for a working mother. But they did come with superiors who were willing to try out a more flexible work model when I proposed it to them.

Mind you, I had to color outside the lines and fib about my work capacity being 100% to get an interview in the first place. But I found out that once I was given an opportunity to demonstrate that a little flexibility can go a very long way, I was able to always put my family first in crucial situations and to strike a balance between spending enough time with my family and still deliver great results at work.

Our daughter is going to be 10 this summer and we have a great rapport. Over the last few years I continued to work in an 80% capacity and my husband at a 35% capacity, which has panned out really well for all us.

Did I encounter prejudice and bias for being the primary breadwinner during that time? You betcha. I still do. But I never let that anger or deter me from doing what I felt was right to be able to pursue the path that I considered healthy both for me and my family.

 

At one of my earliest Powerhouse Events Tabi Haller Jorden, then General Manager at Catalyst Europe, spoke about gender attitudes in the workplace. One of the participants complained about the lack of opportunities for working moms in Switzerland. They claimed, that other European countries such as Sweden and Denmark were a beacon in the dark nether world of employment seeking working moms while Swiss employers were a bunch of Neolithic troglodytes basically still clubbing their female staff over the head with their rigid and outdated work models.

Of course my inner Heidi was not amused.

Because, I think that this statement is only marginally true.

While I agree that many Swiss companies are still quite conservative in their work conditions, there are many willing to adapt. But they need Change Agents. Linchpins.

Let’s step up and disrupt the default.

Game. On.

The Take Away

  • Don’t be disheartened if the perfectly fitting job opportunity does not present itself on a silver tablet.
  • Be bold and apply for positions and companies that appeal to you and see if you can make them fit.
  • Don’t accept the status-quo as set in stone – be ready to Disrupt the Default
  • Keep on rocking

 

Short Bio1509888_622025937834386_1994525445_n

This a guest blog on our Female Breadwinner series by Susan Platt. She is the Managing Director of a family office (MFO) in Zurich, a reluctant blogger (SwissBizChick.com), a mom, a wife, a board member of the Powerhouse Network for Women, a techie, Paleo eater and dog companion. She lives with her family in Zurich.

 

 

 

 

Interkulturelle Kompetenz ist ein Zauberwort in der Managementliteratur. Als interkulturelle Coaches und Trainer folgen wir Modellen und halten uns auch über die Forschung auf dem Laufenden. Häufig fällt mir auf, dass oft Grundbegriffe nicht klar sind. Daher hier der Versuch einer Einführung (ausnahmsweise auf Deutsch).

Was ist eigentlich Kultur? – Kulturbegriffe und Forschung

Kultur ist ein grosses Wort und umfasst mehrere Konstrukte. Wir helfen uns daher in der Vermittlung interkultureller Kompetenz häufig mit Analogien wie dem Eisberg, der Zwiebel und der Sonnenbrille. Erläuterungen finden Sie bei Uehlinger (2012).

Alternativ stellen wir gerne Vergleiche aus dem Bereich Obst und Gemüse an, wie das Pfirsich- und Kokosnussmodell. (Schweizer wären hierbei tendenziell in der Sparte Kokosnuss einzuordnen mit einer harten Schale und weichem Kern, während Amerikaner eher in die Kategorie Pfirsich passen.)

Wissenschaftlich fundiert sind diese Vergleiche nicht, aber sie helfen „Anfängern“, sich die Herausforderungen im interkulturellen Kontext besser vorstellen zu können. Die wissenschaftliche Basis sind dagegen die Festlegung und Definition von Kulturstandards, d.h. Normen und Werten einer Kultur.

Definitionen von Kultur

“Culture is the software of the mind.” G. Hofstede

“Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another.” G. Hofstede

„Kultur ist ein dynamischer Prozess des Lösens menschlicher Probleme in den Gebieten: menschliche Beziehung, Zeit und Natur.“ A.F. Trompenaars

“Culture is the way in which a group of people solves problems and reconciles dilemmas.” E. Schein

“Kultur ist das komplexe Ganze, das Wissen, Überzeugungen, Kunst, Gesetze, Moral, Tradition & jede andere Fertigkeit & Gewohnheit einschließt, die Menschen als Mitglieder einer Gesellschaft erwerben.“ Edward B. Tylor

Klischees

Klischees können humorvoll gemeint und trotzdem verletzend wirken. Sie beginnen normalerweise mit pauschalen Aussagen wie:

  • „Die Deutschen haben keinen Humor.“
  • „Die Italiener lieben vor allem ihre Mutter.“
  • „Alle Amerikaner sind laut und oberflächlich.“
  • „Der Inder an sich kann nicht selbst kochen.“

Häufig spielen dabei persönliche Erfahrungen eine Rolle. Das Klischee mag zwar auf einen Grossteil der Menschen zutreffen, spiegelt aber häufiger eher eine subjektive Wahrnehmung des Sprechers, beeinflusst von seiner kulturellen Prägung, wider. Seien Sie daher vorsichtig mit Klischees. Wir nutzen sie häufiger bei der Suche nach gegenteiligen Beweisen oder um uns selbst aufzuziehen („Als Deutsche brauche ich eine Agenda und einen Zeitplan.“).

Vorurteile

Vorurteile sind immer negative Aussagen über Menschen anderer Kulturen. Häufiger werden Sie Vorurteile von Menschen hören, die wenig oder gar nichts über die Menschen der anderen Kultur wissen. In die Kategorie der Vorurteile gehören auch alle negativen Kommentare über die Essensgewohnheiten in anderen Ländern. (Beispiel: „Spaghettifresser, Knoblauchfresser“)

Landesspezifische Etikette

Häufig wird interkulturelle Kompetenz gleichgesetzt mit dem Wissen und Handeln nach landesspezifischen Etiketten. Aus unserer Sicht ist das aber erst der Anfang. Ausserdem können wir auch als interkulturelle Coaches durchaus in Fettnäpfchen treten.

Kulturstandards

Thomas, Kinast, Schroll-Machl (2005) legen in ihrer Arbeit Kulturstandards fest. Es handelt sich hierbei um landesspezifische Werte und Normen. Durch Kenntnis der Werte und Normen wird erwartet, dass sich das Verhalten der (normalerweise ausländischen) Expats mit der Zeit anpassen wird. Kulturstandards werden durch fünf Merkmale definiert.

  • Sie sind Arten des Wahrnehmens, Denkens, Wertens und Handelns.
  • Sie steuern eigenes und fremdes Verhalten.
  • Sie besitzen eine Regulationsfunktion für Situationsbewältigung und Umgang mit Personen.
  • Sie variieren innerhalb eines gewissen Toleranzbereiches bei Individuen und Gruppen.
  • Verhaltensweisen ausserhalb der Kulturstandards werden von sozialer Umwelt sanktioniert.

Kulturdimensionen

In Trainings arbeiten wir (und moderne Tools auch) häufig mit den vergleichenden Modellen der Kulturdimensionen.

  • nach Hofstede
  • nach F. Trompenaars / C. Hampden-Turner
  • nach E.T. Hall

Was spricht für die Arbeit mit Kulturdimensionen?

  • Sie dienen als Strukturierungsmöglichkeit.
  • Sie sind einfach zu merken, Teilnehmer können auf einer Metaebene über das Thema sprechen.
  • Tendenzen können zum ersten Mal sichtbar werden..
  • Sie sind eine Chance, um Erfahrungen zu reflektieren.
  • Sie sind hilfreich für abstrakte und deduktive Teilnehmer (z.B. deutsche Akademiker)

Was spricht gegen die Arbeit mit Kulturdimensionen?

  • Sie verstärken Stereotypen.
  • Bei wenig erfahrenen Nutzern können sie eine Abwehrhaltung in Bezug auf die eigene Kultur hervorrufen.
  • Die praktische Anwendung fehlt.
  • Sie werden bei der Suche nach gegenteiligen Beweisen genutzt (subjektive Erfahrung entspricht nicht der Dimension)
  • Sie sind durch eine westliche Sichtweise und mangelnde Integration von Herz und Körper geprägt.

Wenn Sie gerne mehr dazu erfahren möchten, lassen Sie es mich wissen.

A. Weinberger


The idea of the Intercultural Coach is fairly new. I know around three books on “intercultural coaching”. The best one has been written by Gesa Kraemer and Kirsten Nazarkiewicz. Gesa and Kirsten were ten years ago where I wanted to be now. They were intercultural coaches already when no one knew what that meant.

While the term “Intercultural Coach” seems to have meaning in Germany it is not commonly known in Switzerland. There are different approaches to “intercultural coaching” and the term “interculturalist” is not used in Switzerland a lot. What we do is coaching professionals through an intercultural transition ideally improving their effectiveness by increasing intercultural competence on different levels. In our business, it means coaching in an intercultural transition context or coaching of global managers.

We integrate developing intercultural intelligence and effectiveness into all our programs as we feel it is a key competence for global leaders, in client service and global team performance. For our client selection, it means that we value intercultural diversity.

Why it can sometimes be a burden to be an intercultural coach

The Swiss culture in my view tends to value the opposite. It’s based on excluding rather than including. If you look at how “Switzerland” was founded it is very obvious why the people learned through generation to protect each other from the enemies outside. What started with the Ruetlischwur in 1291 is still in the mindset of the culture. (I call this concept “The Circle of Trust” in my best Robert de Niro-Voice).

The other reason is that in my personal life I spend time with people from different cultural backgrounds. The multitude of experiences and lifestyles sometimes clashes. There are situations in my life where I have to get up and leave a discussion because I cannot handle it emotionally. It often happens when differing religious and political views are at the table. While I consider myself open and tolerant I have a strong value-based attitude that is biased towards “Germanic” logic and values. My approach can get in my way. I get frustrated when clients or friends have a different approach.

As most people, I tend to overestimate my intercultural sensitivity and I am not as great in this topic when I get under pressure. As most of us, I fall back into my “cultural default” (citing Sundae Schneider-Bean, another outstanding intercultural coach, and trainer) when under stress.

 

Seven Principles of Intercultural Effectiveness

What I have learned over the years working across cultures that we have a lot more potential to be compassionate without judging. We just need to learn to reevaluate our conclusions and judgments. We need to give people a fourth and fifth chance and we need to accept them how they are. Then we are true humans, we are able to forgive and we’ll have improving performances in our global teams.

When I am asked in a coaching or training: “So what do you do about that?” I have to say that I try and fail or in most cases I eventually succeed if I follow those seven principles.

1) I try harder and show more patience.

2) I watch my conclusion from other angles.

3) I am more compassionate.

4) I give people a third and fourth chance.

5) I trust even if I had been hurt before.

6) I listen to my heart.

7) I speak slow and use simple language.

Those Seven Principles of Intercultural Effectiveness have been translated into visual cards and can be ordered from us (either for online or print). Email me.

Kind regards

Angie Weinberger

 

 

Read also:

 

 


This week you are finally allowed to open your “Samichlaus Surprise Säckli”. It’s not a Porsche, but I believe it will make you a lot happier.

(drum roll)

Global People Transitions GmbH proudly presents

**The Global Mobility Workbook – A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing International Assignments**

We wrote this workbook for you.

We offer it at a special price of USD 9 (or equivalent in your country) so you can buy it as a present for everyone who deals with international assignments. There will also be a Kindle countdown deal in the UK and US from 24 December onwards.

The ebook contains five parts.

Part 1: The World of Global Mobility.
We explain trends and classify international assignments according to the drivers and show you how to design the international assignment business case. We explain how to integrate the assignment in succession planning.

Part 2: Making it happen.
This is about the operational implementation of international assignments explaining different assignment types, compensation and policy approaches, roles and responsibilities, compliance and working with third-party providers.

Part 3: The Assignee Spouse and Experience.
Another focus is on the process expatriates and their spouses or life partners go through both on a technical but also emotional level. This includes safety and health of expatriates and their families.

Part 4: Developing your Global Mobility Career.
Global Competency is presented as a key component in the development of Global Mobility Professionals. We explore the areas in which your knowledge and skills can be developed.

Part 5: Case Studies and Tasks.
The seven case studies from our daily practice serve to understand Global Mobility challenges in the real world. You will complete a total of eleven tasks, learn technical terms and find useful links.

The ebook is short and concise so you really don’t need to struggle through a lot of academic or other lingo.

You’ll find the book on Amazon around the world. Find the book on Amazon.com or http://www.amazon.de/Global-Mobility-Workbook

ISBN: 978-3-9524284-0-5

Looking forward to your reviews on Amazon!

Kind regards

Angela Weinberger

& GPT – Team

PS: If you are still looking for a poem to read to Samichlaus —>> try this poem and read it out loud.

 

Have you ever been in a situation where your initial reaction was fear showing by you getting worried that you’ll be losing everything, been found an imposture or knowing that you’ll be criticized for something you knew was a bit risk

 

With a bit of distance you probably noticed that all of these situations were harmless and that you made them a lot bigger with your fear.

I have probably told you already that even after having graduated more than 15 years ago I still have a recurring dream that I failed at Math (which funnily enough was one of my best subjects ever).

Seven Shades of Fear

I thought that if I am ridden by fear, it might be that you face fears as well. Have you recently had any of those?

 

  • Fear of not being genuinely likeable and just being liked because you have money, work for a brand, you have influential friends etc. (1)
  • Fear of not being good enough and being found out (2)
  • Fear of not taking enough charge and being considered slack (3)
  • Fear of losing everything and ending up under a bridge (4)
  • Fear of spiders, cats, airplanes (5)
  • Fear of your imminent death (6)
  • Fear of getting too close to someone and possibly getting hurt (7)

 

As we become older (not wiser) we see more risks and it is legitimate to decide that certain risks are too high for us to take in this situation of our lives. However, fear should not stop us from doing anything that is important to us.

Just do it and work with your fear

That allowed me to attend a wedding in Pakistan (probably the safest trip I have been on in the last few years), start my own business by leaving a well-paid job and going on a two-day alpine hike with sneakers (sliding down a snow field on my butt).

 

Fear is a compass but when fear turns into anxiety it blocks your ability to live the life you want. As a coach I advise you apply these seven techniques:

 

1)   If you are afraid of a project: Break it down in very small items and tasks. Manage one task every day.

2)   If you are afraid of not being likeable work for charity. Do something for others without expecting any reward.

3)   If you see yourself procrastinating write of your fear to friends. Commit to a first action step.

4)   If you are afraid of losing everything start to budget your spending, learn about finances and start saving money.

5)   If you have an anxiety disorder such as fear of animals seek therapy. There are ways to heal these anxieties.

6)   If you are afraid of dying work on your physical health and get advice how you can improve your health. Start small walks.

7)   If you are afraid of loving someone who might break your heart love someone who loves you first and shows you love through action. (Or get a dog.)

 

Task: Which fear would you like to tackle first?

More reading

Do you wish fear didn’t hold you back? ​

7 steps to overcome the fear of pursuing your passion or basically anything

Feel the fear and do it anyway – Amazon

Grundformen der Angst

 

Fear of something can be a sign of a “shadow” according to C.G. Jung

http://www.schattenarbeit.de/wasist.html