Five Friday Highlights: Traditions and Stereotypes

Global Stereotypes

Our world changes rapidly. Despite these accelerated changes, some deep-rooted global stereotypes persist as society evolves around them. Such is the case in this week’s selections. Venezuela and Brazil struggle to find lost power while stereotypes remain entrenched in Africa and Japan. Finally, a look at the world’s cities with the best work-life balance.

Venezuela Burning by Danielle DiMartino Booth explores the history behind Venezuela’s current crisis state. She asks, “How has Venezuela spiraled so far out of control in the wake of the commodities supercycle that built modern-day China, one that filled the coffers of resource-rich exporters worldwide?”

Challenging Africa’s Albino Stereotypes from the BBC explained the obstacles to acceptance people with albinism face in Africa. One woman (Celestine Mutinda) said, “Some of us are scared of walking along the streets of Nairobi. Sometimes while walking some people do say ‘this is money’. They believe that albinos can be sold. Some albinos end up isolating themselves because of discrimination.”

Adult Adoption in Japan from The Economist explains mukoyōshi, a practice almost unknown outside of Japan. This practice is one in which grown men are adopted by the families of the women they marry. This keeps the family line from ending and therefore prolongs their place in the business world. Read this fascinating article to learn about the 90% of adoptees in Japan: adults.

Finally, let’s learn about The 13 Cities With the Best Work-Life Balance in the World from Business Insider. Want to know which cities have the best balance between work and leisure time? Then this is the article for you! You’ll need to read it yourself to find out who is number one, but I’ll give you one hint: if you want great work-life balance, you’d better like Europe!

Have you read something this week that gave you a new perspective on another country? Email me to let me know!

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Five Friday Highlights: Hours, Wages, and Interculturalism

Global Working Conditions

When choosing this week’s highlights, I was reminded of the wide gulf in global working conditions. Some workers in Sweden are getting an opportunity to work 6-hour days with no cut in pay, while exhausted workers in China sleep at their desks (with permission) and others in Russia have not been paid in months. The last two articles are broader: a primer on how to disagree in other cultures and thoughts about the impact of female leaders on emerging markets. I hope these selections give you deeper insight into the world around us.

By traveling throughout so many countries, I am fortunate to have a front seat to many workplace experiments, such as manipulating the number of hours per week employees are required to work. In The Six-hour Workday Works in Sweden. But What About in Workaholic North America? from the Financial Post, I was most intrigued not by the specifics of the way the government-funded experiment to shorten workdays would increase productivity, but by the rigorous data collection and investigative integrity. Without outcome data, no decisions will be made that benefit the Swedish workforce as a whole (or workforces in other countries).

It no longer surprises me to see images of workers asleep at desks or in designated rest areas as described in China Tech Workers Asleep on the Job – With the Boss’s Blessing from Reuters. I was intrigued not just by the accommodations made for issues related to work conditions (employees who sleep at the office to avoid hours-long commutes two ways each day), but by the potential productivity benefits (“For technology, it’s more of a brain activity. Workers need time to find inspiration”) and the pitfalls (“My kid misses me, I get home and he lunges at me like a small wolf,” Liu said, speaking about his three-year-old son who he only sees on weekends. “That makes me feel a bit guilty.”).

Work hours and rest accommodations are one labor condition related issue but an utter failure to be compensated is a different and more harmful problem. In Russia’s Car Workers Who Struggle On No Pay from the BBC, the author profiles employees whose salaries are being withheld by hundreds of small and large companies. “The explanations may differ: mismanagement, bad economy or plain criminality,” explains the article, “but for workers the end result is the same.”

Taking a higher level view of working globally, I found The Secret to Disagreeing With People in 20 Countries from the Washington Post both accurate and thorough. The featured chart “combines two different scales. The first scale looks at how emotionally expressive people in that culture tend to be.” The second scale “measures how confrontational people in a culture tend to be.”

Finally, as an interculturalist who also specializes in gender work, Women in Leadership Dominate Emerging Markets … And It Pays Off from Forbes was a perfect dovetailing of my two interests! The author shares, “In my global search for quality investments, I stumbled on a trend that should be good for everybody….as competent women take more leadership roles, it should raise the bar for everybody, and provide a fresh – and profitable – prospective.”

Have you read something this week that gave you deeper insight into another culture or way of doing business? Email me to let me know!

Image Credit: 123rf/Kirill Cherezov

 

Five Friday Highlights: Joy, Fear, and New Cultures

Learning New Cultures

When you decide to visit a new country, is your initial sentiment joy or fear? Maybe a combination of both? For some people, of course, it’s not really their decision. As organizations become more global, work-related international moves are becoming more common. For person doing the moving, though, “common” may not be the first word that comes to mind! Today, five selections about people’s experiences with other cultures, some short-term and others more permanent.

As organizations become more global, international moves are more common. But for the person moving, “common” isn’t how it feels! {TWEET THIS}

Let’s start with one individual’s experience and expand into larger groups of people. In Introverts, Arriving Early, and my German Adventure, author Jennifer Kahnweiler shares her takeaways from her recent business trip to Germany. She was impressed by the vigorous attention given to debating all sides of issues (and how disagreement was not to be taken personally).

Every international trip I embark on transforms me and this one was no exception. – Jennifer Kahnweiler

Speaking of transformation, when workers move to a new country and must assimilate into a new culture, transformative interactions are sure to take place! In 5 Ways to Acclimate Multinational Employees from Talent Management, activities to enhance workers’ abilities of “self advocacy, ownership, speaking up, facilitating meetings and knowing what topics are safe for their work environments” are presented.

Trading Persian Tea for Seattle Coffee from The Atlantic is a detailed look at how the Iranian community in Seattle established their lives (and livelihoods) while also staying true to their heritage.

A tree cannot stand without the roots…and I cannot be excited as a proud American if I’m not proud of where I came from. – Ali Ghambari

The 70 executives consulted for Leading Across Cultures: The Five Secrets of the World’s Top CEOs from The Guardian have undoubtedly encountered their fair share of intercultural issues in the workplace! One of the five secrets is fearlessness, with the author asking “Are you comfortable being uncomfortable? Do you like situations where there’s no road map or compass?” My travels have confirmed that — embracing the risk of inserting yourself into a new situation is often difficult but almost always worth the risk!

Sometimes, it is possible to cross cultural lines without actually going anywhere, and to do it in a way that divides instead of uniting. A Point of View: When Does Borrowing From Other Cultures Become ‘Appropriation’? from BBC News, is an opinion piece on the evolution of political correctness. Citing incidents such as a 2015 “Kimono Wednesday” issue at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts when an activity designed to engage people led to protests over perceived cultural insensitivity, the author concludes “appropriation is far more often empowering than oppressing.” What do you think? Email me here to let me know!

Image credit: 123rf/scanrail