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Citizens of the World and HR

Is it just me, or does it feel like the world is getting bigger again, rather than smaller?  On one side talent is getting harder to find for many roles in many countries but at the same time countries are either talking about or actively looking at ways to reduce the flow of talent.  The HR community needs to monitor this trend and provides the appropriate their point of view to governments, politicians, lobbyist and other individuals that influence change.  There are dozens of articles triggered by events such as Brexit and USA presidential elections that focus on the trend of reduced ease of labour moving between countries and continents.  Here are a few of those articles that I think it is work every HR person reading.

Theresa May’s, the Prime Mister of the UK and the speech that she made at the Conservative Party Conference in October.  There is an excellent write-up on her speech and implications for Brexit in the 8th of October edition of the Economist Magazine.  And she is quoted to have said “If you are a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.  You don’t understand what citizenship means”.  This sentence worried me, as having worked in most continents of the world, I have considered myself a citizen or the world, one of the global workers that can understand cultures and motivate talent in many different environments.  Business value this expertise and experience, but if our governments tell us striving for globalisation is not a good journey to follow then what will future workers think when they have a choice to work in the UK or elsewhere?

If you have an American operation and have tried to get an H1B Visas you would already know that the H1B visa 2016 cap was reached on the 7 April 2015 (and yes this correct and not a typo – the cap was reached before the year even started).  In early 2000 the number of H1B visas available was almost 200,000, today it is 20,000 (with additional quotas for individuals doing master degrees).  Yes, there are other types of visa’s you can use to give your employees that international experience but they are even harder to get approved unless you are a large multinational.  Again, as an HR professional, this is making it more difficult to give individuals the global experience that companies (and employees) would like to have along with helping to ensure the right level of productivity within an organisation by being able to move labour and talent where it is needed easily.

Another piece of evidence is what is discussed and signed at the G20 meetings.  The most recent one being in China which had an “anti-globalisation” feel coming off the back of Brexit and other noises of reducing the ease in which goods, services and people can move between countries.  The G20, which is supposed to be in aid of increasing globalisation, imposed 443 new trade distortions in the first ten months of 2015 a 40% increase on the previous year.  The Guardian published an excellent article that reviewed a broad range of countries and actions they have taken or are thinking of taking that reduced globalisation.  Including reference to interesting statistics such as Global capital flows fell from a peak of 16% of world GDP in 2007 to just 1.6% in 2015 – a level last seen in the 1980s.

Personally, I wish to be a global citizen being able to use my talents and skills where ever they are needed.  And more importantly, I don’t want to live in a world where every country does only what is best for them and not for the world.  And if this happens it will truly be a very sad place.  HR has a role to play in monitoring this situation and making their voice hear, as organisations need to be able to find, retain and develop the best talent they can find, anywhere in the world, to make the company the best it can be for all shareholder.

Article by Mary Sue Rogers

Posted On : 18-10-16

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