Author Archives: Angie Weinberger

Guest post by Martijn Roseboom

Let me start off with introducing myself, I am Martijn Roseboom, 39 years old, married to ‘Bee’, father of a 6 year old girl and 4 year old boy. Since moving to Switzerland I have been a full time stay-at-home dad.

These days most people meet and get married within their social circles. This is the case for us. We met during University where I was studying business economics and my Bee was studying Medicine. I recall discussing for the first time, who would be the breadwinner, as students having some drinks in a bar. When I found out what a doctor is expected to earn and compared this to my own financial prospects, I asked Bee what she planned to do with all of her money. It seemed an awful lot for shopping. The underlying and never questioned assumption underneath was that I would be the breadwinner of the family and take care of all the bills. Bee thought that this was absolutely ridiculous. For me this was one of the core beliefs of what was expected as being a man, and never had imagined otherwise. That was the start of an interesting evening full of (alcohol fueled) heated discussions.

Since leaving University and starting work, we always have been competitive (me mostly) about who would earn the most. In practice we agreed that we would both bring in 50% of the income. When moving abroad for our first international assignment, I had to give up my job and we agreed to combine all our income together. As the ‘trailing spouse’ in Singapore, without a job, I could not do anything without my wife’s signature. This led to the practical situation where I ‘adopted’ my wife’s last name and this was also clearly stated on my credit card and all other bills. This was the ultimate reversal of the concept that I had as a man and being the breadwinner. All of this changed again back to ‘normal’ when I found a job in Singapore. However now that we have moved to Switzerland, I find myself in the same situation, except that this time I at least can use my own last name and can prove this with my credit card.

Whilst it is more common to see that nowadays there are more female breadwinners out there, it is something that remains frowned upon. Whilst on a family level, this is clearly the best way forward for all of us, it is still sometimes challenging. The biggest challenge is the stereotype I have that the man needs to be the breadwinner of the house. This leads to not always appreciating the opportunities it brings. The best thing is being an integral part and see the kids growing up. The only thing I miss is more men in the same situation. It remains socially frowned upon for a married man to ask another woman out for a drink. Even if it is coffee and there are kids running around all over the place. Let’s hope this will be a normal way for dad’s to spend their mornings in the future.

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Martijn Roseboom, President Partner Committee International Dual Career Network (IDCN)

LinkedIn: Martijn Roseboom

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

 

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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

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I did not really go into rehab but I guess I was close to a mental overload that showed in the following ways: I would go to the kitchen, start making pasta for dinner, go to my laptop…30 Minutes later someone nearly calls the fire brigade and I’m eating overcooked pasta.

Then in a time where work really picked up in my business and I had to follow a tough plan in order to manage all my work snow fell early November.

I still needed winter tyres. You have to understand that this is an obligation in Switzerland not a choice. If you are caught with summer tyres when the snow is already on the road the police can fine you. So in my lunch break on a day where my hubby stayed at home feeling unwell I’m trying to juggle housework and my other commitments. Then I remember the winter tyres and instead of checking the Internet via laptop I get frustrated trying to make an appointment over my i-phone.

I could not find the phone number. Then smack. An act of aggression. I smashed my phone on the floor. Been there?

The touch screen did not work any more.

“I am ruined. My life is over.” (Big red drama queen alert)

Lesson learnt: The touch screen is as sensitive as a human.

I noticed how much I depend on my phone within the next 24 hours. I had to buy an alarm clock. I did not have access to my bank accounts anymore. I did not know how I should find a new venue. I was looking out of the window. I read the newspaper.

Not being reachable had a few bonus points though. I got through with my plans and had a very productive day. I did not constantly check my phone. I did not read Twitter and Facebook. I opened Skype only for calls. I reviewed a lot of documents that urgently needed a review. I worked on my website. I watched a girl hugging a big teddy bear outside a pharmacy and she made me smile.

I listened in to people’s conversations. I felt calmer and less stressed. I did not feel that I had to read all my emails. I did not accept meetings changes other than cancellations. My assistant handled all official calls. I noticed that I can rely on her. I asked that she should set up meetings in person rather than making me call people. I expected people to accept that I am not available all the time.

I felt a little disconnected  with the buzz but a lot more connected with my heart.

I laughed and smiled more. I found a phone shop without navigation. I tried to remember my diary instead of checking everything twice. I accepted that I might run late and will not be able to tell anyone. I worked a whole week without phone. I don’t have a landline so I was getting worried about emergencies. It was ok but on Saturday I bought a new phone and a cover to protect it.

These days I remind myself to take breaks and to use a few analogue ways of communication such as a paper notebook. I helps me keep an overview about my projects and accomplishments. I delete apps such as Facebook on occasion so that I do not use every “free” minute to check what’s going on. I allow slow response times and we stopped having electronic devices in the bedroom, since we have an old-fashioned alarm clock now. Sleep has improved.