The importance of Language skills
With vast differences between countries in terms of legislation and business practice, lack of communication and misunderstanding are often the reasons behind conflicts, unresolved business issues and underperformance. Yet when isourcing candidates for international roles, most recruitment firms underestimate the importance of language as a skillset.
There is a tendency to over-estimate the importance of English and under-estimate the value of other languages, and nowhere more in the recruitment sector. Where there are important business relationships to develop with non-native English speakers, fluency in a relevant second language and multicultural business experience can be invaluable.
Companies who do not exploit the benefits that multilingual executives offer are increasingly risking losing out on a wealth of potential business opportunities. Businesses can be left behind as competitors benefit because of superior language skills and the ability to establish multi-border business relationships.
- 50% of mergers and acquisitions fail to produce the expected synergies because of cultural differences (KPMG research)
- One in four UK companies and one in six US companies that operate internationally have lost business opportunities because their employees do not possess the necessary foreign language skills.(Conversis, 9-2015 report)
- Export businesses proactive in their use of language and cultural skills achieve on average 45% more sales (BCOC)
- More firms demanding language skills to break into new markets” (CBI/Pearson survey 23rd June 2014)
- Two translators on a ship are talking.” Can you swim?” asks one.” No” says the other, “but I can shout for help in nine languages.”
- Companies trading internationally frequently face language and cultural barriers. The negative effect on results is not always apparent to organisations that use English as their primary language and there is a tendency to over-estimate the use of English and under-estimate the value of other languages when recruiting for an international role.
- When there are important business relationships to develop with non-native English speakers in foreign markets, fluency in a relevant second language and multicultural business experience can be critical to success.
- With vast differences between countries in terms of legislation and business practice, lack of communication and misunderstanding are often the reasons behind conflicts and underperformance.