Step Into The Future of Business By Hiring Bilingual Professional
By George L. Rosario, CEO & Founder at GC Rosario Group
Hoy les hablo como un hombre Hispano, casado con una mujer Latina, parte de una familia en la cual se hablan diferentes lenguajes. Dans notre monde, nous n’hésitons pas à parler des langues différentes. Nous nous en félicitons. Οι οικογενειακές μας συγκεντρώσεις μοιάζουν με μια διάσκεψη των Ηνωμένων Εθνών. I Rosario sono orgogliosi di essere un gruppo eterogeneo di americani patriottici che possono celebrare la nostra diversità etnica. Que línguas diferentes você ouve em suas reuniões de família? Let’s talk about it.
Let’s face it. The world is not longer as big as it was 50 years ago, and it’s people are not as distant either. We are no longer at the mercy of an expensive trip or expensive long distance phone calls in order to communicate with people from around the world. We are no longer bound by slow mail when we communicate. An email can now travel from Japan to New York City in a second. A group of business people in South Florida can communicate with a group of business people in South America via a live video chat. A service provider in San Francisco, California can provide his services to any of the other 244 places named San Francisco around the world, without ever having to change out of his pajamas. A fashion designer in Milan, Italy can now fit and dress a model in Milan, Turkey without boarding a plane or ship to get there. The world is closer than ever before. This is why it is important that we welcome language diversity into our professional spaces.
Did you know that research has shown that bilingualism is not only favorable, it is quickly becoming crucial in business? Bilingualism, and even multilingualism is now the norm in most of the world’s top companies and organizations. I mean, from the world’s top 10 companies to your state’s 10 strongest churches, catering to more than one language proves to be one of their strongest growth strategies.
In 2014, England began writing legislation that would encourage bilingualism in the workplace, in public places and even in the government. Many other English-speaking countries are sure to follow suit. In the United States, there are numerous states that have increased funding for dual immersion programs, as well as other classes and foreign language based programs.
With England jumping in head first for 2014, I believe other English-speaking countries will follow suit. Certain states in the US have already begun to increase funding for dual immersion programs and other language-focused programs and classes. South American countries have long taught foreign languages in their schools, many of them making it mandatory for college students to learn a second language (most often English, German or French) in order to graduate.
Learning a Second Language Will Make You a Double Threat To The Competition!
The business world can no longer ignore the need for bilingual professionals in their member arsenal. American companies that eye international growth and exposure are aggressively recruiting bilingual talent. They constantly seek people who can communicate and articulate the company’s vision to non-English speakers. These companies hire well spoken, professional communicators who are well versed in English, as well as in a second language. Go to any job site today and you may find that the majority of postings mention bilingual as one of their job requirements.
If we are going to open your organization or business to an international, global expansion, we must become as integrated as the world has become. Not speaking the tongue of the land limits the opportunities one can take advantage of in other countries. As we look to integrate, connect markets, outsource services and tasks, expand our territory while minimizing costs, and look for locations that are clearly more opportunistic, we must adapt to the language demands of those new territories. As leaders, we will need people who not only speak other languages, but who can connect with people of other cultures in a more intimate manner. Let’s face it, many deals have been lost due to a lack of personal connection between the people involved.
The bilingual and bicultural marketplace will thrive, while the old school, closed door mindset of those who do not adapt will surely be costly. Being bilingual, and even bicultural will soon be prerequisites for top positions in organizations that want to remain competitive in an ever shrinking world.
While many will tell you that diversity is the answer, that is not always a foolproof strategy. After all, have you ever met a person who clearly has a foreign background (either by birth or by heritage) who does not speak the language of that foreign background?
In my own Hispanic family, there are some members of la familia who simply do not speak Spanish. It’s interesting to me, because many of them grew up in households where their parents spoke very limited English, but somehow the ability to Hablar Español skipped them.
One of my closest friends, who is clearly of Asian descent, and whose grandparents came to America speaking nothing but Chinese, speaks fluent Spanish (he grew up in a very Hispanic neighborhood), but doesn’t speak any Chinese. I always found it funny when we would walk into a NYC style Chinese take-out restaurant to order food and the staff would speak to him in their native tongue. Hank would look at me and smile and say the only words he knew in the language, “shì de” which means yes, “bù” which means no, “yěxǔ” which means maybe, and “Jī” which means chicken (at least that is what he told me these words mean). He would alternate them and the staff would immediately realize he had no idea what they were saying to him.
My son George Jr.’s best friend Maiki, who was born in Japan, came to the US as a child. He is fluent in Japanese. My son has spent so much time with him throughout the years that my son is fluent in Japanese. It’s always interesting when I see George translate for Japanese people in tourist areas of New York (Times Square, Midtown, The Financial District, etc.). What’s interesting is when I see my son translate for a Japanese tourist who is trying to communicate with a Japanese American who does not speak Japanese.
My friend Abner who is a fourth generation American from Idaho speaks fluent German and Japanese. To this day I still don’t know the full story behind it. He jokingly says he would have to kill me if he told me. He then jokingly says “I would tell you but I’d have to kill you” in both Japanese and German. He also knows basic Tagalog, which is the language of the Philippines. He has taught himself how to say his catch phrase in Tagalog as well.
My French client, of French parents, who is married to a French woman, doesn’t speak any French. It’s worked out well for his wife Madeleine, who has deep conversations with Joe’s parents. It hasn’t worked out so well for Joe because he doesn’t know when they are speaking about him. That’s why he brings me along. I understand French.
The list goes on and on. Speaking a multitude of languages in the workplace is much more than racial, ethnic or skin deep. It is about knowledge of the language, and wisdom of its benefits. Many companies are focused on diversity without focusing on what actually matters, bringing in people of diverse backgrounds that have the skillset to connect the organization and themselves to people of those diverse backgrounds.
Diversity is a buzzword today mainstream media, in business, and in society in general. It is a big deal because of the various benefits it brings into the workplace. When people who speak multiple languages and who come from diverse backgrounds come together, they can open up doors to many new opportunities that one may have missed if one was not open to the beauty of diversity. But with diversity, especially international diversity, and with a global marketplace action plan comes the very real need to find people who are bilingual and fluent in a foreign language.
In my years in business, I have found my language skills very useful. I am fluent in Spanish and English and learned them both simultaneously as a child. I am also fluent in Italian and speak a bit of French, Portuguese and Greek. I’m not saying this to pat myself in the back or elevate myself above others. I am saying this because I have first hand proof that being able to communicate in several languages has its advantages. I’ve been able to close deals that others could not close simply because I could communicate with the people on the other side of the negotiation table in a more intimate, personal manner. I’ve also been able to de-escalate some rather touchy situations by communicating with the opponent in a way that connects us rather than separates us.
The high value of bilingualism in business today will push human resource managers and recruiters to purposely recruit bilingual candidates for their workforce. Language is one of those human characteristics that connect people at a deeper level. Therefore, a bilingual person will often have an advantage over a monolingual person during the interview process; at least for positions that require them to communicate with a diverse population.
We cannot make the blanket statement that bilinguals are automatically more valuable than monolinguals. But we can make an argument that an organization that has the capability to communicate effectively in multiple languages will have clear advantages over an organization that can only communicate in a single language. We can also say that it is more likely for a bilingual or multilingual person to connect with people who prefer to communicate with someone who speaks their language. Someone who speaks two languages is probably more culturally aware than someone who only speaks one.
Communicating in Different Languages Has Its Advantages!
Organizations need to have a higher level of communication if they are going to find success. Being bilingual increases one’s communication abilities. This will indirectly increase our capability to do everything on a higher level. Being bilingual isn’t going to automatically going to make you better than others, but it will instantly make you appear like you are a step above the competition. You don’t believe me?
Imagine being at a fancy dinner with an important client and your competitor shows up. He sits on the table next to yours and says hello. He introduces himself to your client and strikes up a conversation. At that time, the menu comes out and it is all in French. Your competitor struggles to read it and you chime in with perfect French. You speak to the waiter, who speaks back, and you two laugh as if you are old buddies. Your competitor has no idea what you’ve said. Would you agree your client now sees you in a much better light? This is the power of bilingualism.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
George L. Rosario, #GeorgeTheSpeaker
George L. Rosario is a Brooklyn NY born & raised businessman & entrepreneur turned consultant. He started GC Rosario Group with his lovely wife Claudia. With over 30 years of service to the marketplace in NYC, George has relocated and been graciously adopted by the business community of South Florida. He now travels the country helping businesses and organizations thrive in today’s noisy environment. The post-Covid era forced many to close their doors, but also opened new doors of opportunity, growth and prosperity for innovative thinkers. George & Claudia Rosario help companies, businesses, organizations and teams develop the necessary skillset and plan of action to not just survive, but thrive in this new world. GC Rosario Group helps both secular and Christian based institutions meet their goals.