Because cultural diversity enriches us
Meeting for a coffee with our colleagues in London and Singapore
It is now widely accepted that a relationship between diversity and business success exists. Studies prove that greater diversity equals greater success. On top of that, employees also benefit from an open corporate culture.
A dedicated crew has formed at imc to further drive diversity and inclusion. The objective: making a mark for diversity.
49 nationalities across 12 locations
Our offices are spread across the world – across 12 international locations to be precise. Here, 49 nations are collaborating. Today, we will take a closer look at two of our offices. To this end, we met for a virtual coffee with Francisca Lim, Brand Manager at imc Singapore and Gijs Daemen, Brand Manager at imc UK.
In London, 15 employees of 8 different nationalities are working together. 7 employees of 5 nationalities share the Singapore office.
Francisca, you work in Singapore, but you are from Indonesia. Would you say that there are any differences in the working culture?
The working culture in Singapore is more independent compared to Indonesia. There is an Indonesian term called “gotong royong” or “working together” where everybody is expected to help each other and sharing the burdens. It’s more prevalent in Indonesian work culture than in Singapore. Besides this, there is no distinction between office friends and office colleagues in Indonesia, which is not the same in Singapore. Hence it’s scarce that we can develop a closer bond with our office colleagues in Singapore.
Gijs, you work in London, but you are Dutch. What was the most “shocking” moment for you after moving to the UK?
I can’t think of anything really “shocking”, but I’m very aware of the differences in communication styles. Dutch people tend to be quite direct. In the Netherlands it is seen as being honest and/or being efficient. However, in the UK that directness might come across as rude or disrespectful. So that is definitely something to be aware of.
Is the communication between all of you always in English in the office?
Francisca: Even though the national language in Singapore is Malay, the main language is English. The other official languages are Chinese (Mandarin) and Tamil, besides other dialects such as Cantonese, Hokkien, Hainanese, Hakka and Teochew. Most of the people speak English or sometimes it can be called “Singlish”, a variety of English spoken in Singapore incorporating elements of Malay, Cantonese and Hokkien. There are common words that I never heard before I came to Singapore, such as “lah”, “leh”, “walau”, “blur”. I couldn’t understand the conversation clearly in the beginning, but it’s much better now. However, we speak formal English, not Singlish, in the imc Singapore office.
Gijs: Yes, most of the time it is. A few people speak Dutch though, so sometimes we can switch. German people might be able to follow a Dutch conversation a little bit, but most English speakers won't understand a single word.
Gijs, was there any funny moment, for example a misunderstanding because of the different mother languages?
Our Dutch colleague Tanja loves to use random Dutch words or expressions in English conversations. That can be quite funny, at least for the Dutch speakers among us. I’m not sure what the others think…
Do you see the fact that 49 nations work together at imc as a hurdle or an enrichment?
Francisca: Team members with diverse backgrounds will bring diverse solutions to the table, which leads to a more informed decision-making process and improved results. Harvard Business Review found that diverse teams are able to solve problems faster than teams of cognitively similar people. But there are challenges as well, such as overcoming bias. Studies show that the vast majority of human decisions are based on biases, beliefs, and intuition - not facts or logic. Even with the best intentions, people tend to bring bias into their everyday interactions, including in the workplace.
How do you experience the diversity management at imc, are there still challenges?
Francisca: imc is the only company I joined that has been supporting diversity and inclusion that much, with so many activities and working groups to achieve a better result. I wish that we all keep the momentum going and involve more people in diversity and inclusion activities. There are not many big challenges working in diverse teams as long as we understand each other, share our experiences, learn from each other and understand our differences.
The diversity of our employees from more than 49 nations makes us what we are: a Saarland brand at home in the world. Our clients around the world are diverse – so are our teams. Every single day they succeed in enabling individuals and organisations worldwide to unleash their full potential in a continuously changing world.
Diversity and inclusion at imc
What does Diversity and Inclusion mean at imc? And what is the "Diversity Corner" in the headquarter in Saarbrücken about? We will enlighten you in the interview with Kerstin Steffen.
I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.
I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work. My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.
Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.
Topics: E-Learning Trends, Corporate Social Responsibility, Press and Influencer Relations