I don t like the word
. I think it sounds like a new form of ecologically correct energy: Have you seen my new car? It runs on ethnicity. It is, in fact, a relatively new word, just over fifty
Clues to your
Now because of easier communications, intermarriage, and mass migration, a person s appearance no longer says as much about his or her geographical origins. It s not surprising that the word
has begun to sound a little old-fashioned, because appearance
That doesn t stop it from being a problem, though. When I talk to second-generation immigrants, whether British people of Irish or Pakistani descent, or Germans with Polish or Turkish parents, the individuals who have
Religion is also an important part of the ethnic picture. Few people show outward signs of their religious affiliations; Hasidic Jewish men with
(side curls) and untrimmed beards, Sikhs with turbans, and Muslim women in the West
But sometimes your new colleague s ethnic background is not revealed until she opens her mouth, and you hear English spoken with a Nigerian accent or French with a Marseilles
Sometimes it s a mixture of all three elements of ethnicity ”race, religion, and language ”that divides people into groups, but given the human
The relationship between ethnicity and nationality is an uneasy one. In large countries like the U.S., Russia, and China, nationality
Our ethnic background and nationality are part of what makes us what we are. But they are not the only part. Wherever two people come from, if they make the effort to get to know each other they will find there is more that unites them than divides them.
Most of us are proud of our nationality. However, nationalism is something that can cause problems.
FROM THE U.S. ABOUT MEXICO
I feel the people I am working with here are really negative toward me because I m a U.S. American. They don t actually say Yankee, go home, but it certainly feels like they d like to. Is there any way to
overcomethis sortof hostility?
If you look at the relations between your countries from a historical perspective, you will understand it s probably not you as a person who elicits this
It s not a comfortable situation if you feel you are being required to apologize for or defend your country when abroad. However, like it or not, when you are there you are acting as both your country s and your company s representative, so try to reflect the positive aspects of your culture while respecting local feelings. Try to avoid political and religious discussions, and try to keep cool and patient in the face of criticism even if you do find it unjust. If things go too far and you feel yourself or your country under some sort of verbal attack, keep calm, ask for a break, and explain that you don t want to continue the discussion.
Do a little research into the history, art, sports, or famous sights of the country so you have an alternative topic to switch to in social situations if things get sticky. Take the time to build personal relationships, so that those who may not have met any people from your country before, and who have
The relationship between nationality and ethnicity
FROM POLAND ABOUT BRAZIL
I have had increasing contact with Brazil and have been surprised to come across a couple of people with Japanese-sounding
names. Is this common?
It s certainly not unusual. Brazil contains a wonderful mixture of different ethnic groups, including the largest community of Japanese outside Japan. Japanese immigrants started settling in Brazil in 1907 and are now found
But the Japanese are only one of many immigrant groups. Although most Brazilians of European descent have Portuguese ancestry, substantial German and Italian communities also exist. Some of these groups have retained their own language and culture, while at the same time speaking fluent Brazilian Portuguese and adopting a Brazilian lifestyle. With its African, Asian, European, and indigenous roots, Brazil must be one of the most racially mixed countries in the world.
FROM SWEDEN ABOUT THE U.S.
I work in the HR department of a medium-sized multinational, and we have created a new employment policy that describes our commitment to diversity. When we got the document back from the U.S. American translators we saw the expression people of color, which I have never seen before and find very odd.
The translator has not made a mistake. It is simply the most recent in a long line of terms used to describe people from non-European ethnic backgrounds. When I was a child in England my mother used the
Language like everything else has its
While stereotypes about nationality or ethnic groups are dangerous,
there may be broad similarities in the way
FROM CANADA ABOUT RUSSIA
We are starting to work with some businesspeople from Russia and met them for the first time in Moscow. We were surprised, though, to learn that some of them were not Russians but introduced
themselvesas Moldovans and Chechens.
Whether we are religious or not, we cannot avoid being influenced to a greater or lesser extent by the religion(s) of our native culture.
FROM THE U.K. ABOUT INDIA
We are about to
opena production facility in Northern India. We want to encouragediversity in our company, including religious diversity. What kind of measures will we have to take to meet employeesdifferent requirements?
India is a vast country with many ethnic and religious groups. Most of its population, however, is Hindu, so you may have to pay attention to the caste system. Discriminating against a person based on his or her caste or untouchability is legally forbidden, and the government also allows positive discrimination in favor of lower castes. In cities you can see different castes mingling with each other, but in some rural areas there is still discrimination, and sometimes there are violent
Problems can sometimes arise if, for example, someone from the wrong caste works in the kitchen preparing food (which would make it inedible to many other employees) or if you
India also contains a sizeable Muslim and Sikh population and a smaller Christian one. If you are
FROM THE U.K. ABOUT SPAIN
We do a lot of business in various
partsof Spain, but are always hearing that they can t do something because they re having a religious festival. The Spanish people I know aren t particularly religious and I feel that religion is often used as an excuse for laziness.
The U.K. today is a very secular society with low rates of churchgoing and observance of religious traditions. However, you should not assume that everyone else shares your views on the unimportance of religion. Certainly the days in Spain are gone when everyone attended Mass on Sundays, but the observance of holy days is still an important aspect of life. The same applies in Italy and Latin America, all prominently Catholic countries. And it is certainly not laziness to prioritize participation in a religious or communal
Even if you don t think of yourself as religious, religion affects the values of the society we live in, and we are all social animals. In Catholic countries, where people work hard but see work as a part of life rather than its most important
For notes on the religions of these countries, see the Nutshell listing in the section Calendars and Holidays in Chapter 5. For information on the languages spoken in these countries, see the section A Global Language in Chapter 4.
GLOBAL BUSINESS WARNING
Questions on international or inter-ethnic disputes, race, and religion are subjects not to discuss when chatting with people from other cultures, even if you know them well.
Argentina: People of Spanish and Italian origin (also German, English, and Welsh) predominate among immigrant groups. In the north there is a larger indigenous presence. (See Letter 130.)
Australia: A nation of immigrants, except for the native Australians (Aborigines), Australia has a multi-ethnic population, but those with European origins hold most power.
Immigrants and guest workers from Eastern Europe might pose a big problem when the European Union forces all its member states, including Austria, to remove restrictions on foreign workers from other EU states (probably in 2010). Geographically, Austria is
Belgium: Flemish and French are the main ethnic (linguistic) groups. There is also a German-speaking minority. There are strict language laws to ensure political fairness.
Brazil: This is a multi-ethnic country, with Portuguese, West African, and indigenous ancestry most common. (See Letters 126 and 130.)
Canada: There is an English-speaking majority, a large powerful French-speaking minority, and a large Asian community. There are strict language laws to protect the status of the French language. (See Letter 130.)
China: This is a multi-ethnic country, with many spoken Chinese dialects, although Mandarin Chinese has been adopted as the common language. There are attempts to integrate ethnic minorities (e.g., the Kazaks and Turkic peoples) into mainstream Chinese culture.
Denmark: The country had a very homogenous population until relatively recently. The influx of political and economic refugees has led to some tension. (See Letter 130.)
Finland: See Austria. The population is quite homogenous (although there is a well-established Swedish-speaking minority), and this may lead to an ignorance about, and suspicion of, non-white foreigners. (See Letter 130.)
France: A multi-ethnic country (it had French colonies in North Africa), but ethnic tensions do arise between the immigrant population and other citizens from time to time.
See Austria. Large
Hong Kong: An ethnically Chinese population with a large white minority.
India: An enormous multi-ethnic country (with a multireligious, multilingual, and multiracial population). The Indian states are divided by linguistic lines. Most Indians are bilingual or multilingual. (See Letter 129.)
Indonesia: The majority of ethnic Indonesians are Muslims, but there is a comparatively wealthy and influential ethnic Chinese minority and a small indigenous population.
Italy: Italians have strong regional loyalties. There has been a recent influx of immigrants from Balkan states. (See Letter 130.)
Japan: The population has been and remains homogenous. This can lead to an ignorance about and suspicion of foreigners. South Korean immigrants to Japan have not been fully accepted. (See Letter 126.)
Mexico: Over 80 percent of the population has some mixture of Spanish and indigenous blood. There is a lot of emigration to the neighboring U.S. (See Letters 125 and 130.)
Netherlands: A multi-ethnic country (there was a Dutch colony in Indonesia, and people from Morocco and Turkey came to work in the 1970s). It is estimated that by 2010, 15 percent of the population will be of non-Dutch origin. (See Letter 130.)
Norway: See Japan. (See Letter 130.)
Poland: The vast majority of Poland s people, over 90 percent, are of Polish origin. The remainder are of German, Ukrainian, or Belorussian descent. (See Letter 126.)
Russia: An enormous multinational state made up of people from many nations. Each nation is really an ethnic group, distinguished by racial, linguistic, and religious differences. There are some inter-ethnic tensions. (See Letter 128.)
This is a
South Africa: The rainbow nation, it is multi-ethnic with citizens of European (British and Dutch-German, i.e., Boer), African (Zulu and Xhosa), and Asian ancestry. Even though political power is in the hands of the black majority, economic power is mostly in white hands. Affirmative action programs mean more non-whites are entering management.
South Korea: See Japan.
Spain: There is a strong regional awareness that has given rise to a vociferous (and violent) Basque separatist movement. (See Letter 130.)
Sweden: The population has been homogenous until relatively recently. Now, 1.5 million people out of the total population of 9 million are immigrants or have at least one parent who was an immigrant. The influx of political and economic refugees has led to some tension. (See Letters 127 and 130.)
Switzerland: Large numbers of guest workers have moved to Switzerland from poorer countries. It has proved very hard for them to be granted Swiss citizenship.
Taiwan: Taiwanese are mostly ethnically Chinese, with a small (2 percent) indigenous population.
The country has been an Asian
Turkey: The country s largest minority are the Kurds. The use of the Kurdish language is discouraged but it is no longer forbidden. There is a widespread Turkish suspicion of its Kurdish minority. (See Letter 129.)
UK: Made up of four countries: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, each of which has varying degrees of autonomy. It has been multi-ethnic for over fifty years, with immigrants coming from former colonies in the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and the West Indies. Ethnic tensions arise from time to time. (See Letters 125, 129, and 130.)
US: The original melting pot, the U.S. has a multi-ethnic population with large and well-established African American and Asian American minorities. The continuing numbers of Spanish-speaking immigrants from Latin America make the Hispanic population the biggest minority. Ethnic tensions arise from time to time. (See Letters 125, 127, and 130.)
Venezuela: Venezuela has a higher percentage of people with African descent than any other South American nation. Between 65 and 90 percent of Venezuelans are pardo , a combination of Indian, African, and European descent. (See Letter 130.)