3 ways a multilingual corporate culture translates into business success


As the values ​​of diversity and inclusiveness grow in global acceptance, the importance of accepting those who speak different native languages ​​becomes a key ingredient of successful businesses. Language acceptance takes its rightful place alongside racial acceptance and gender acceptance as a requirement of an enlightened and progressive international enterprise. Even the term “mother tongue” is falling into disuse as it becomes clear that children raised in male-only households can also benefit from their father’s language. According to Ofer Tirosh, CEO of translation agency Tomedes, “In our modern world, we already know, or are learning, more languages ​​than ever before. Multiculturalism and multilingualism are everywhere now, but especially in business. The most successful companies are also multinationals. A culture of multilingualism within a company is essential to influence business success across language borders.

What are the benefits of multilingualism for employees?

It goes without saying that respect and appreciation for individual differences has become the hallmark of the modern and progressive company. “Let them learn EnglishIs no longer an acceptable or beneficial response: multilingual equity is becoming a powerful force. In many countries, this positive valuation of employee diversity is now enshrined and applied in the law as well as in the corporate culture. Human resources departments should above all be the first line of defense to ensure that their companies comply and adapt to hiring and onboarding practices that allow speakers of minority languages ​​to feel accepted and to be successful. comfortable in the business environment.

It is not a simple matter of talk and filling the hiring quotas. The appreciation of the value of multilingualism must be supported by concrete policies in place even before new positions are advertised. Companies should actively recruit new employees at all levels in multilingual publications and websites. Help Wanted ads should be in multiple languages, reflecting the current and future needs of employers. Interviews should be conducted, at least in part, in the candidates’ preferred language so that language gaps are not held against them. Language skills can always be improved with training and education of staff.

Once employees are hired, a thorough assessment of their language skills should be carried out, both in terms of their “mother tongue” and their ability to communicate in the dominant or additional language spoken in the company. Integration and acculturation activities should make a speaker of a minority language feel at home in the company, such as group celebrations of ethnic holidays with other employees and the exchange of food and customs typical of minority cultures. There should be efforts to instill knowledge of greetings and other jokes in all employees so that the speaker of a minority language feels accepted and welcome.

Technology should be applied in this effort. There are many free tools for simultaneous voice interpretation and for on-demand and integrated text translation that can be applied in the company’s suite of applications used for communication and collaboration. The quality of these translation tools, although still not at the level of professional translation services, has improved to the point where translating and interpreting using them systematically improves comprehension. Studies show that “linguistic fairness” also contributes to greater employee job satisfaction, less churn and increased productivity. Employees who feel respected and “at home” in their language are happier and healthier workers, contributing more to their business.

What are the advantages of multilingualism for customers?

Respect for different languages ​​does not remain content within a company. Multilingual diversity spills over into relationships with customers, making them feel respected and appreciated even if they speak native languages ​​other than the “mother tongue” of a company they do business with.

This can start with the marketing, sales and technical support materials the company offers for its products and services. It’s not rocket science that prospects and customers respond best when addressed in the language they’re most comfortable with and when they find a listening ear that understands them. It should start with the IVR call pipeline, but it shouldn’t end there.

Don’t overlook automated chat systems, either. Integrated translation systems using the Google Translation API or other application programming interfaces can instantly make over a hundred languages ​​available to chatbot users. These systems dramatically extend profitable customer service to previously inaccessible markets.

But don’t just rely on automated solutions. There is no substitute for qualified customer service and sales support. Fortunately, a slew of third-party providers such as Live Person, Zoho, and Unbabel have sprung up to provide skilled multilingual services like this so employers don’t need to rely solely on multilingual in-house staff. Call centers and helpdesk can be contracted to assist your customers as needed and on demand.

What are the benefits of multilingualism for stakeholders?

As the global economy resets to a more global and sustainable basis, multilingual equity is taking its rightful place alongside diversity and inclusion as fundamental best practices for acceptability. Increasingly, the adoption of such open-minded principles will become required values ​​that strengthen the competitive position of companies as team players in the new global economy.

Lingualism – discrimination based on choice of language – may not now have the spur of racism or sexism in everyday language. However, there is no doubt that there is a growing awareness of the rights and needs of speakers of languages ​​that have heretofore been neglected or underserved. The days when English was imperative as the “language of business” are passing away.

Speakers of “less privileged” minority languages ​​claim their fair share of the linguistic pie. For example, Hindu is spoken as the primary language by over 350 million people, almost as many as those who speak English in their native language. But Bengali is not far behind, quickly approaching the 300 million level. Isn’t it a holdover from colonialism that English, at best a second language in India, remains the main language of business. Shouldn’t it be a goal of business stakeholders that every native language receives the respect and value it deserves? Translation technology allows in principle the universal right to speak and be understood in one’s mother tongue.

Multilingual equity should be adopted globally as a contributory value alongside diversity and inclusion. Technology and service providers should step up their efforts to provide solutions to achieve this goal. Whether their mother tongue is a “mother tongue” or a “mother tongue”, individuals should have the right to express themselves in the language of their choice. It is the responsibility of corporate citizens around the world to transform this right and this freedom into reality.

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About Norman Griggs

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