Thursday, April 9, 2015

Your guide to leveraging European diversity

Florian Monfort

The global tech scene is evolving faster and faster. New communities are popping up around the world. We now see India and even more so, Asia gaining momentum: just look at TechinAsia to witness it. Over here, great EU success stories like Criteo, Teads.TV or Soundcloud are emerging and growing fast.
But what made those companies so successful in Europe? How can you leverage a European environment to your advantage? With ChatGrape, we’re currently growing a team that already consists of seven different nations including Austria, Germany, France and Belarus, to name just a few. Why are we putting such an emphasis on recruiting an international team? Here is a guide that will explain it all.

On why this is important

Big Silicon Valley companies share their diversity reports every year. But why do they care so much about diversity altogether? By challenging yourself in front of different people, you challenge your own creativity. You force your mind to adapt to what is different. To not only welcome it, but act on it so you can socially integrate. Tolerance and a more open mind follow.
It makes you more comfortable with people who have different backgrounds and cultures. It facilitates business.

We have it all here in Europe

The good news about Europe is that on one continent we aggregate so much diversity. Not less than 28 countries for the European Union alone. 28 countries with diverse ways, customs, languages, and habits. Different ways of communicating. Different ways of working. Different ways of challenging other people’s minds.
It is by challenging ourselves towards all those cultures that we can train ourselves. Train so we can then better face business with more distant cultures. A first step to discover what a business should be flexible on before expanding.

A sample list of what you can do

  • Hire abroad: a company culture built as European from the start. Get your employees to gather as Europeans and adapt to each other. If you are scaling, stay on top of diversity numbers and reports. If there are none, ask your HR manager to create at least a first report.
  • Encourage curiosity: promote discussions around other people’s cultures. Discuss them. Discover them with your employees. Get them to talk about it, to broaden their perspective. Always as a positive aspect.
  • Use English for external promotion/branding: before getting interested in other’s differences, find a common ground. English has proven itself as the de facto language for international management. And there can be no communication without a common tongue/code. Getting people to talk to each other via a common language is a way of getting rid of a first cultural barrier.
  • Break communities up: do not let national oriented communities isolate themselves. Get people to spend time with people from other cultures. Get a French to work with Spanish, English and German. Get a Polish to work with German and Italian (those are completely random examples).
  • Structure the organization in a way that people have time to share. It can be as simple as organizing inter-cultural meetings. Get people to cook their national specialties for others to try out. But in all make sure you reserve time for it. You can put that under the Team Building label.

There are only so many ways

The measures you can put in place to make this happen are limitless. It is an area in which creativity plays a role. As we are going to scale, we will also try at ChatGrape to promote this philosophy. We will share with you our best practices and what we have tried, what worked and what didn’t. You can also share your experiences, we are always welcoming suggestions and great ideas.
Enjoy Europe and baguettes!

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This is a repost of a blog post on from April 7, 2015 

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