The Commisceo Global Blog - Perfect for Culture Vultures

Whether a press release, a case study of cultural difference, some tips on working abroad or some lessons in cross-communication, we try our best to satiate your inner culture vulture.

88% of clinical professionals encounter non-English speaking patients

More than 88 percent of America clinical research, healthcare, and medical device industry professionals surveyed encounter non-English speaking patients and subjects on a regular basis. The November 2007 survey, which was conducted by Global Language Solutions (GLS), polled the firm's clients and industry contacts on the types of languages spoken by their patients or research subjects, as well as the one(s) used most often.

GLS, which specializes in translation and interpreting services for the medical devices, pharmaceutical, and healthcare industries, was not surprised to find Spanish as the non-English language most commonly cited by respondents; with 90 percent those surveyed who encounter non-English languages listing it as the most common. Other languages listed included French (37 percent), Chinese (25 percent), and Russian (20 percent).

Read more> GLS 
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Home Office on course to meet diversity targets

Targets for the recruitment and retention of staff from minority ethnic communities are on course to be met across the core Home Office, a report published today revealed.

The eighth annual Race Employment Targets Report shows progress against the Home Office's 10-year race equality employment targets. The Border and Immigration Agency, Identity and Passport Service, the Forensic Science Service and the core Home Office areas all exceeded their aims.

The news comes just days after a new mentoring scheme aimed at preparing black and minority ethnic (BME) staff for leadership roles in the Civil Service has been put into action.

Read more > Home Office 
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Language and Culture are issues for midwives

The UK's population is growing. Part of that increase is fuelled by women from other countries having children here.

And as the Local Government Association (LGA), representing 400 councils in England and Wales, outlines to a House of Lords select committee how migration stretches community services, one midwife tells how the changes affect her.

language and culture in the uk


For midwife Jayne Cozens, going to work these days is also becoming something of a geography lesson.

She has worked in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, for 12 years, and her caseloads are containing increasing numbers of foreign nationals from across the globe.

Language and culture are becoming more of an issue, as Mrs Cozens' job becomes ever more multi-cultural and multi-lingual.

"It can be a challenge explaining to a 17-year-old English girl what an amniocentesis is, let alone to a teenager from abroad who doesn't speak the language," she says.

There are cultural issues, too, which midwives must handle in the course of giving their advice to non-UK nationals.

"Chinese families tend to sleep together in the same room and the same bed.

"Children, new baby, mum and dad are all together. It's what they're used to, so you go to a house and there's a couple of mattresses on the floor.

"But our advice in relation to cot death is for women to not sleep with their babies, so if you have the whole family in together then that presents a problem."

Mrs Cozens said that in the course of her work "you do learn a few words" but that this is not enough to clearly explain the full message.

Read more> Language & Culture
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Enjoy Christmas say UK's religious leaders

Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims joined Britain's equality watchdog Monday in urging Britons to enjoy Christmas without worrying about offending non-Christians.

Christmas in UK


"It's time to stop being daft about Christmas. It's fine to celebrate and it's fine for Christ to be star of the show," said Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

"Let's stop being silly about a Christian Christmas," he said, referring to a tendency to play down the traditional celebrations of the birth of Christ for fear of offending minorities in multicultural Britain.

Suicide bombings by British Islamists in July 2005 which killed 52 people in London have prompted much soul-searching about religion and integration in Britain, a debate that has been echoed across Europe.

Read more> Christmas
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Expats "get the best of both worlds"

When English people move abroad, almost half (46 percent) miss traditional dishes such as bangers and mash and black pudding.

More than a third (37 percent) miss their favourite TV programmes, such as Only Fools and Horses, according to a major new survey of expats by BUPA International.

But surprisingly, in spite of craving familiar foods and TV programmes, the majority of English expats say they are actually happier abroad.

Findings from research by the world's largest expat health insurer show that three in four English expats now call their new country "home", while a third say they feel healthier since moving abroad, thanks to better weather and an improved quality of life.

Ninety-three percent of the English surveyed also said they would recommend the expatriate life to others, with over half declaring that "they get the best of both worlds".

Read more> Expatriate
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Spouse language skills part of revised migrant scheme

Husbands and wives of work visa applicants will have to prove their English language skills under plans unveiled by the government yesterday.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith announced that foreigners applying for spouse visas will have to undergo language tests.

She also said that criminals with unspent convictions will be refused entry, while the age at which people can come to the UK for marriage will be raised from 18 to 21.

The government is revamping the UK's migration system, introducing a tougher, points-based scheme. This will be introduced in five stages over the next 18 months.

Read more> Language

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Expat Life in Malaysia

Christopher Boyd says sitting in your 50th floor office, mobile phone in hand, reading about the problems of tigers eating the local livestock is but one of the many contrasts which makes life in Malaysia a long journey of discovery.



I am a long-term expat in Malaysia, having been here since 1974. My nationality is British, but I have permanent residence in Malaysia. By profession I am a Chartered Surveyor and a partner in Regroup, which is a firm of property valuers and agents. My wife is Malaysian and runs a nursery school.

Malaysia: Malaysia for the expatriate was once regarded as the "poor cousin" ranking well below Hong Kong and Singapore in importance and amenities. Increasingly it is the regional location of choice for foreign companies. Expats seldom have much problem settling in, and many plan to return here in retirement.

It is useful to think of Malaysia as really being three countries - the very cosmopolitan Klang Valley surrounding the capital Kuala Lumpur has every facet of a big city with modern buildings, hotels, parks and traffic jams.

Never very far away is the exotic countryside with its mountain ranges, endless plantations, jungle and coral beaches. Then, across the South China Sea, are the states which make up East Malaysia.

Read more> C. Boyd 

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Muhammad & the teddy bear: a case of intercultural incompetence

Muhammad & the teddy bear: a case of intercultural incompetence

Every now and again we get an international story that demonstrates the importance of cultural awareness in the modern age. Examples include the Israeli tourists kissing in a Hindu shrine, the movie poster that offended Buddhists and sparked protests in S.E. Asia or the now infamous Prophet Muhammad Cartoons.

teddy bear sudan

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English is foreign for 40% of primary school kids

Schools are struggling to cover the cost of providing specialist teachers for thousands of new immigrant pupils, headteachers warned today.

english in primary school




Forty per cent of primary age children in London now speak a language other than English at home and some schools take several new arrivals a week as pupils "appear from nowhere", heads have said.

The National Association of Head Teachers called for schools to be given the "infrastructureî they needed to get pupils whose first language is not English fluent enough to cope with the national curriculum as soon as possible.Read more> Language 
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UAE is top world expat destination

The United Arab Emirates is the world’s top destination for expatriates in terms of personal taxation, according to a new study.

Mercer’s ‘Worldwide Individual Tax Comparator Report’, a global survey of expatriate hotspots, looks at tax and benefits systems across 32 countries, focusing on personal tax structures, average salaries and marital status. Data from the survey is used by multinationals to structure pay packages for their expatriate and local market employees.

For single managers, the UAE has the most attractive tax environment according to the percentage of net income available, the survey finds. The country earns its no. 1 ranking by not assessing income tax, with social security contributions amounting to just 5% of a local employee’s gross salary.

Read more> UAE 
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Technology for global mobility programmes

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.

Read more> Expatica 
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BA "culture of hostility" against

A British Airways check-in clerk who was suspended for refusing to conceal a small crucifix on a necklace at her post at Heathrow Airport has accused her employers of having a "culture of hostility" to Christianity at an employment tribunal.

When Nadia Eweida was suspended, without pay, in September 2006, she claimed it was her human right to express her faith by having the crucifix on display. She returned to work this February after BA revised its uniform policy.

The case caused a storm and prompted criticism from then prime minister Tony Blair who told British Airways that its attempts to stop staff wearing the crucifix was a waste of energy.

Read more> British Airways 
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Blears urges HR staff to attract more BME workers

Communities secretary Hazel Blears has urged human resources professionals to get out more to attract more black and minority ethnic (BME) workers.

Speaking exclusively to Personneltoday.com, Blears said the role for HR in attracting more BME people into work was to go to the places where different communities live, and encourage them to apply for positions.

Currently, the ethnic minority share of the working age population stands at 9.3% or 3.26 million people, according to 2004 Department for Work and Pensions figures. The latest Office for National Statistic figures (2002-03) state that the employment rate for white people working in the UK is 75.5%, compared to just 57.3% for non-white groups.

Read more> Hazel Blears 
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Blears urges HR staff to attract more BME workers

Communities secretary Hazel Blears has urged human resources professionals to get out more to attract more black and minority ethnic (BME) workers.

Speaking exclusively to Personneltoday.com, Blears said the role for HR in attracting more BME people into work was to go to the places where different communities live, and encourage them to apply for positions.

Currently, the ethnic minority share of the working age population stands at 9.3% or 3.26 million people, according to 2004 Department for Work and Pensions figures. The latest Office for National Statistic figures (2002-03) state that the employment rate for white people working in the UK is 75.5%, compared to just 57.3% for non-white groups.

Read more> Hazel Blears 
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Working as an expat in France

Just getting set up in your new French office? Nerve-wracking, isn't it? Here are some tips from Expatica's Culture Coach Nathalie Kleinschmit to make sure you get off to a good start and read the signals correctly in your new environment.

Let's see if you recognise yourself in Jason's tale of his stay at his multinational company's head office in Paris:

“When I got to the front desk, they told me I had to wait because they hadn’t received my badge yet. Twenty minutes went by before my manager arrived to authorize my entrance. He then walked me to my new office and and told me that a meeting was scheduled with the team at 3pm that afternoon and that, until then, I could read through the files.

I had my own laptop but couldn’t get the Internet connection to work. For the next few hours, I could see people walking by peering into my office but not a single person came in to introduce themselves to me. I went to get a coffee and discovered that the machine wasn’t coin-operated and that I needed a card. For lunch, I had already eaten in the cafeteria on previous trips and had a voucher so I was able to get a platter together. But I remember feeling quite alone and wondering if I was ever going to fit in.

Read more > Expatica
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An expatriate child's view of Saudi Arabia

 

With all the attention given to the Middle East today, it is important that the Western public receives a complete picture in order that their opinions and sentiment toward Arabs and their homeland’s is a responsible one.

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Cultural diversity and mental health

One out of 35 people in the world is an immigrant, and in virtually every country, different languages, beliefs and cultures coexist. In this context, promoting mental health requires incorporating cultural sensitivity into mental health services and programs, experts said today at a special event held to observe World Mental Health Day 2007.

"Culture and diversity are central to the everyday perceptions, behavior, and interactions of individuals," said Dr. Carissa Etienne, Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). "It is no wonder therefore that culture and diversity influence the way that mental illness manifests itself, how individuals and communities perceive and cope with this illness, and how health care providers diagnose, treat, and care for persons with mental illness."

Led by the World Federation for Mental Health and supported by PAHO and other institutions, this year's World Mental Health Day focuses on the growing importance of cultural competency and sensitivity in ensuring effective mental health programs and services around the world.

Read more: WFMH 
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Cultural diversity and mental health

One out of 35 people in the world is an immigrant, and in virtually every country, different languages, beliefs and cultures coexist. In this context, promoting mental health requires incorporating cultural sensitivity into mental health services and programs, experts said today at a special event held to observe World Mental Health Day 2007.

"Culture and diversity are central to the everyday perceptions, behavior, and interactions of individuals," said Dr. Carissa Etienne, Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). "It is no wonder therefore that culture and diversity influence the way that mental illness manifests itself, how individuals and communities perceive and cope with this illness, and how health care providers diagnose, treat, and care for persons with mental illness."

Led by the World Federation for Mental Health and supported by PAHO and other institutions, this year's World Mental Health Day focuses on the growing importance of cultural competency and sensitivity in ensuring effective mental health programs and services around the world.

Read more: WFMH 
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Blears launches new integration strategy


translation


Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, has announced a £50m investment to help local authorities boost integration and the creation of specialist teams to tackle tensions in communities sparked by changing patterns of migration.

The money - up from £2m this year - is to be channelled over three years to groups which promote integration, rather than towards bodies which represent a single ethnic or religious identity. The change in approach is to be accompanied by guidance to local authorities that they should only spend money on translating documents into foreign languages where necessary, and put a much greater emphasis on teaching English.

Read more: Blears 
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Expat Life in Mexico

The North American Free Trade Agreement (Weintraub, 2004) and lower labour costs in Mexico have caused many US companies to move their operations south of the border.  While the majority of the workers in the US-owned plants are Mexican, some of the employees are US workers on temporary expat assignments.

expat life in mexico


While not randomly selected from a large pool of expat workers, my ten interviewees did hold a variety of jobs.  Several of them were managers and engineers.  Others in the group included a US Air Force officer, an HR representative, a Director of Research and Development, and a missionary.  Two were female and eight were male.  For the vast majority of the group this was their first expat assignment and they considered the assignment a means of advancing their careers and providing their families with a rich cultural experience.  Half of the workers said that they would be interested in doing another expat assignment in the future.

Read more: Expatica 
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