The glass ceiling is the classic symbol of the barrier women bump into as we go through our careers. But for women of color, that barrier is more like a concrete wall. If we’re going to reduce workplace sexism and racism, women of all ethnicities need to work together. And it will be tough to do that unless we feel more connected to each other.
We talk with professors Ella Bell Smith and Stella Nkomo about how race, gender, and class play into the different experiences and relationships white women and women of color have at work. They explain how those differences can drive women apart, drawing from stories and research insights in their book, Our Separate Ways.
Ella L.J. Bell Smith is a professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
Stella M. Nkomo is a professor at the University of Pretoria, in South Africa.
Software outsourcing is no longer just for giant corporations. What started as a novel practice of U.S. companies sending IT jobs to India in the 1990s has now become a $88.9 billion industry that connects businesses with IT experts worldwide, from Belarus to Argentina. Companies of all sizes make use of this service to cut down on costs, bring innovation into the business and open up more time to focus on core operations.
Although IT outsourcing is more than a passing trend, many business owners still shy away from hiring an outside team to help with their work. Here are some of the incorrect assumptions businesses make about software outsourcing.
1. Outsourcing means lower-quality work.
Many business owners or project managers might assume that developers educated outside of the U.S. or Europe are less skilled than those at home. This assumption could not be further from the truth. The U.S. comes in 26th in the world for IT talent, with top outsourcing countries like Brazil, Belarus and Ukraine making the top 20.
According to Deloitte, 78 percent of companies that use outsourcing services are satisfied with the quality of the work. Not only can outsourcing lower costs, but it can also bring talent to your company that sees problems with new eyes and provides innovative solutions.
2. Outsourcing is only an option for giant corporations.
Articles about outsourcing used to speak exclusively of million-dollar contracts with companies that had $1 billion or more per year in revenue. While these companies still make up most of the deals, small businesses and startups can make use of outsourcing services as well. Smaller companies might even benefit more than bigger corporations from the cost differential.
According to the Deloitte survey, 59 percent of companies use software outsourcing as a tool to cut costs while still developing revolutionary technology. Some entrepreneurs even suggest that outsourcing the early development of your prototype and MVP can help startups get products to market faster without sacrificing equity to a technical founder.
3. Outsourced teams cannot communicate fluently in English.
Anyone who has worked with a remote team knows the importance of good communication. Naturally, you might expect anyone doing business with your company to speak the international language of business. There are endless horror stories of companies contracting outsourcing services before realizing their IT team knows only a basic level of English, making it practically impossible to communicate challenging business ideas.
These stories often occur in Asia or Eastern Europe, where the general population has relatively low English proficiency. One of the main reasons for the aggressive expansion of Latin American outsourcing is due to its bilingualism, with Argentina leading the ranking. Due to its proximity to the United States, English has been a mandatory language in schools and universities there for decades now.
4. Only tech companies can make use of outsourcing.
When we talk about IT outsourcing, many businesses assume that only tech companies could benefit from outsourcing, since tech functions are not impacted by distance or borders. However, 29 percent of companies that use outsourcing are in the consumer products industry, while 11 perent work in the healthcare industry, according to Deloitte. Just 9 percent of companies that use outsourcing are actually in the tech and media industry.
As outsourcing has become more mainstream, companies continue to invent new ways to use outsourced services. Business process, legal, real estate and human resources outsourcing are all ways companies can make use of a remote team without necessarily working in tech. Even startups are starting to outsource their IT departments as the cost of developers and tech experts in the U.S. skyrockets.
5. Remote outsourced teams are harder to manage.
Organizing video conferences across borders might seem like a headache when you are considering hiring an outsourced team. However, outsourcing companies are used to working remotely and generally respond quickly to messages and calls when they are needed. Since their whole business is built on a long-distance work methodology, they apply efficient communication and the best task-management tools to ensure an efficient flow of information. If you are concerned about external team members not being as familiar with your product, imagine the possibility that they might come up with something innovative you haven't considered. Deloitte reports that 35 percent of companies seek innovation from their outsourcing companies directly through the contract.
Software and IT outsourcing are common global practices, but they are still shrouded in mystery for a lot of companies. However, as outsourcing has gone mainstream, services have improved and diversified, meaning that businesses of all sizes can benefit from outsourcing part of their work to outside teams. Whether for cost-cutting or innovation, software outsourcing is a simple way to augment your company's capacity and grow on a global scale.
People buy products and services they understand. This means localization is one of the most important elements of a global marketing campaign for different audiences to trust your brand – attuning your icons, symbols, currency, text, visuals, and brand name according to the local culture and behavior of your target audience.
An international marketing strategy goes far beyond translating the marketing material and website into different languages. After all, you want a message that speaks to your target users, not an error-riddled version barely making sense. Failure to humanize your brand for different cultures, regions and geographies could become the limiting factor for your worldwide success.
Here are three reasons why you should localize your brand to gain more traction and attention of potential customers.
1. Capturing the target audience
According to a report by KPMG and Google, nearly 68 percent of internet users consider digital content in their local language more reliable than content in English. Hardly surprising, right?
With this is mind, consider elements as simple as how you express measurements and other data. For instance, some countries display weight in grams and kilos, while others display in pounds and ounces. Dates and times are also used in different formats in different countries. For example, while Apple's U.S. homepage says of a product, "Preorder 10.19," its India homepage says, "Available from 26 October."
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Another example of internationalization done right is vacation rentals portal Airbnb. In the U.S., the user can sign up with their email, Facebook or Google account. Airbnb's decision to allow the user to sign up via WeChat or Weibo grew the company's Chinese customer base by 700 percent in just one year.
The demands of the international market will vary in different countries for the same product. Research the needs of the target audience to tweak your global brand according to the local sentiments. Break the language barrier to gain the trust of your target audience.
2. Addressing cultural diversity
The meaning of the same words, images, signs, colors and gestures vary significantly in different cultures.
For example, "gift" in English means a present. The same word in German implies "poison." The thumbs-up sign means "well done" in Western cultures; in the Middle East, it is considered insulting. Yellow represents cheer, warmth, joy and happiness in Western cultures, while it indicates envy in Germany. White is associated with peace, purity and elegance in Western cultures; in China and Korea, it represents death and is worn at funerals.
Look around for local interpretation of words, symbols, colors and the habits of your target audience while expanding your business to another country. Remember to think deeper than the overall language: Spanish may be spoken in 22 countries, but that doesn't mean the diction, vocabulary and connotations are the same in all regions. You can hire a local translator to identify such sensitive aspects and localize them according to dialect.
3. Localization vs. machine translation
Localization vs. machine translation is a heated issue that we try answering again and again.
Let's start with machine translation. The translated text is presented immediately. Google Translate and Skype Translator are available for free to anyone with an internet connection. These tools feed data from a storehouse of hundreds of languages. The bonus is that this technology is constantly updated. If a few years ago you typed the Italian phrase "faccio la doccia" into Google Translate, the translated English would be "I do the shower." Today, Google Translate produces "I take a shower."
The main disadvantage of machine translation is its inability to pick up idioms, tone, context, style and metaphors. The machine first breaks down the words and structure of the source text into sections, which are then reproduced in the target language. When the language is complex and cannot be simplified, the machine translation fails. For example, the French idiom "se taper le cul par terre" means to laugh hard. Enter this phrase into Google Translate and the English translated result is "get your a** screwed."
Let's talk about localization via humans. Humans can understand and capture context, which machines are so far incapable of doing. When translating, people take into consideration puns, metaphors, slang, humor and the cultural differences in the language to find the most suitable alternatives.
For an example of when the difference is crucial, clinical trials are increasingly globalized. The trials are being conducted in countries other than their country of origin. The target audience follows a different culture and speaks a different language. When a trial that originated in the U.S. is being conducted in China, the consequence of mistranslation by a machine or foreign translators potentially involves loss of lives, the reputation of the company and massive costs. A local translator understands the terminologies, the native language and cultural context to ensure the target audience is comfortable with how the information is conveyed.
As information is interpreted differently across cultures, localization goes way beyond word-to-word translation. It should make your brand's message resonate in the language of the target audience without altering the intent. The translators you hire need to be familiar with the culture and potential customers.
As a business owner, you may be bogged down with numerous other tasks, such as marketing, sales, striking partnerships and building a user base. Instead of getting mired in the complex localization details of every new country you penetrate, you can hire a localization agency to do that for you.