In the context of my business activity, I am constantly on the road and consequently, practically always a guest worker. As a guest of the countries I travel to and as a guest of my clients, I am grateful for the always and without exception friendly reception, despite the fact that I often do not speak the native language nor am familiar with the local customs. My approach of choice is then respect (or should I say my arm?)
In a global world, which is fortunately slowly but surely growing together, there are nevertheless a few recent trends that concern me as they have more to do with separation and distance then mutual understanding and collaboration. Catalonia and Scotland want to isolate themselves, populist politicians are catching votes in Europe using xenophobe slogans, and even Switzerland has just voted in favour of limiting the access to foreigners. And in Germany, the fear of Romanians, Bulgarians and East-Europeans is being fuelled.
In that light, I no longer really understand the world as it seems schizophrenic to me: on the one side, we would like to drive German cars, drink French wine and English whiskey, wear Swiss watches, and eat Chinese or Indian food while also needing care givers for an aging society. And what is the reaction? We keep the barriers in the European Community high so that no work force come in, and impose non-European products with a great amount of separate customs duties while simultaneously subsidizing the domestic industries, which is not an exclusive European characteristic.
I don’t think that I am deluding myself when I think that without my central and East-European colleagues, I can just as well close down our plant in Germany. You can also simply ask around in Novartis or Roche in Switzerland about the percentage of their foreign workers. First you will not believe it and then you will be amazed!
Or just try to obtain a visa for an international colleague for maintenance work or a business meeting. I promise you that, rather than disbelief, you will feel great anger at how much energy is wasted by the states in order not to grant you any visa or only when it is too late. One of my female colleagues got almost stuck in the Middle East because her visa expired due to a late flight arrival. And it was all just for a one-week business stay in New Zeeland! (Here our gratitude goes to the Spanish consular officers for handling the issue unburocratically and at their own risk!!).
In my activities I am always and everywhere a foreigner, and thus RESPECT is definitely my approach of choice. That is why I am a strong supporter of TOGETHER and not of SEPARATE, even when this often means that the pay off will only come in the long term.
In that sense: let us strengthen the TOGETHER.