Baby photos from Brazil. Pet photos from Poland. Dinner photos from Romania. Wedding photos from Turkey. Backyard photos from Spain. They pop up in my Maark Slack channels daily, these precious and important moments in the lives of my international colleagues. These shared photos are from people I only get to see in person a few times a year and in some cases even less than that. But I’m vested in these people. They have, from thousands of miles (or kilometers) away, helped put food on my family’s table for years and defined this place where I work every day.
Hiring international employees is a decision often motivated by cost-efficiency in many organizations. It’s an arm-length transactional relationship, offshoring and out-of-minding. A better reason for crossing borders, of course, is sourcing the right talents and skills from a richer, global pool of resources. But both of those strategies, if not implemented well, can really miss a major value of hiring global talent: The formation of a diverse culture. Hiring from abroad should broaden your organization.
One of the values of diversity from a business outlook is that it brings in new ideas and perspectives from people different than those with whom we might usually interact. People who think differently. Whose experiences and upbringing are different. Whose values and priorities are different. Whose lives are different. And while you might find that diversity within your homebase, you’ll definitely find it outside your immediate geography.
Hiring from abroad should broaden your organization.
Our international friends and colleagues help form the culture here at Maark as much as anyone who walks through the frosted wolf and shield on the doors of Boston HQ. And that’s happened because, honestly, we’ve always relied heavily on them as team members. They make up a large portion of our force. They hold key responsibilities in the organization. They are no mere outsourced capability; they are core to our business and important to us as people. And then, of course, once that reliance and relationship was established, we fostered it.
For instance, in the current WFH argument raging in the media, one proof point of its value that isn’t being discussed is that WFH erases borders. A reason we adopted the hybrid work model back in 2014 was because it allowed us to be more inclusive. Instead of anybody outside Boston feeling like they were left out of the water cooler conversation, we just marginalized the water cooler and moved the conversation to digital platforms where everyone could join on a more equal footing.
And digital is what makes this inclusivity and reliance possible, of course. It’s one of the few positive parts of the globally connected digital experience that otherwise acts to raise our anxieties, shrink our attention spans, dissolve our civilities, warp our perspectives, and sap our souls. Despite all that, we can still use it to form real relationships with people whose paths we would not cross otherwise.
I can work, if not side-by-side, then screen-by-screen, with anybody in the world and forge a real partnership with them. Sure, the trappings of that partnership are avatars, Slack messages and Zoom boxes, but it’s still a partnership being formed by the usual means: shouldering through the shit together. My international colleagues have pulled my butt out of fires more times than I’ve set them. And that’s how these relationships are really bonded. By having each other’s backs, which would never have happened if we weren’t all wearing wolf and shield hoodies on those backs.
So, if any of my international friends and colleagues are reading this piece, more photos, please. And if I only respond with a thumbs-up emoji or a brief DM conversation, please know that it’s only because Slack is sapping my soul.