domingo, 18 de diciembre de 2016

If I were an Expat (10/10): The 10 points to consider

If I were an expat about to start my assignment, these are the 10 points that I would keep in mind:
  1. Manage your own career: Before making the decision of working abroad, think how it improves your capabilities and your long term career perspectives. It is important to keep in mind that you are in the driving seat of what is coming ahead in your professional career.
  2. Pixabay
    Total Compensation: The acceptance of an expatriation depends on the assessment of all benefits, not only the monetary ones such as salary, housing, etc. In recent years, professional, personal and family reasons are gaining importance, as the experience of working abroad is generally a very positive experience for the career of the expats and for their families.
  3. Family: If you want the assignment to be successful, the family deserves your full attention, especially during the first months. According to recent studies, the most common argument for the rejection of an assignment is the career of the spouse.
  4. Expat letter: When working abroad you have to face issues on the labor front that have to be studied in detail and that vary greatly depending on the country (e.g. Social Security). The signing of the expat letter is an important moment to clarify these points.
  5. Visas: Keep in mind that obtaining your visa may take longer than you expect. 
  6. Taxes. The complexity of the tax obligations for a person moving abroad makes it advisable to contact a tax expert to help you with your personal tax return both at home and in the country of destination. It is important to understand how your compensation is defined, specifically, if you are on a gross or an equalized policy.
  7. Health & SecurityMake sure you have the basic security information so you can avoid any high risk area or activity. Also, get a contact list from your medical insurance of the available hospitals in case of emergency. Be careful when driving abroad and ensure that you have a valid driver license.
  8. During the Expatriation: Once you arrive to your destination, there are some questions that can help you in the landing process; spend time with your family, learn the language, do your best to understand the history and culture, etc.
  9. Return: Start planning for the return a few months before the end of your assignment. Remember that you probably have a unique know-how that you should share with your colleagues to ensure it is not lost after your departure.
  10. Finally, be respectful, keep your mind open and a positive attitude. You will need to be flexible to adapt to the new environment.
In most cases, the satisfaction of the Expats and their families exceed their initial expectations.  If you are starting a new assignment, I hope your expectations are exceeded too!

PS. For furher reading, you have details about all these points in previous entries of this blog.

viernes, 25 de noviembre de 2016

How Colin Powell became a four-star general. Best practices in diversity management

Colin Powell's promotion did not just happen.

Colin Powell by Russell Roederer
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Clifford Alexander, who was Secretary of the US Army from 1977 to 1981, explains how he held up a list of proposed generals because of lack of diversity. He then gave instructions to look at all records of eligible colonels to ensure ratings were based only on fair and equitable criteria.

His board followed his directives and .... Colin Powell emerged on the candidate list.

As he explains in the NY Times article Colin Powell's Promotion: The Real Story "He did not get anything extra and his white colleagues did not get anything extra either. The rise of Colin Powell through the ranks of the United States Army to brigadier general had to do with his performance as a soldier”.

This is a great success story of a good diversity practice. I had heard about it a long time ago and today I mentioned it to some friends. Then I googled it and I was lucky to find this excellent article published in the NY TImes.

domingo, 20 de noviembre de 2016

Are you planning to move to the European Union?

If you are planning to move to the European Union, you should know that immigration rules are not the same in every EU country. This is because most EU countries have both EU rules and their own national rules. In addition, there are exceptions to the EU-wide immigration rules in countries like Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Common rules apply if you are a highly qualified worker or if you wish to study or do research in an EU country. 

Grunge EU flag  by Nicolas Raymond CC BY 3.0 
Nevertheless, applications must always be made to the authorities of the EU country you plan to move to. For full information about this topic and links to the country specific websites, please visit The EU immigration portal.

Each EU country decides on topics like the total number of migrants that can be admitted, all final decisions on migrant applications and rules on long term visas.

In general, to enter the EU, you must present the necessary papers to the border authorities. These could include:
  • Passport
  • Short-stay visa or long-stay visa
  • Documents to show the purpose of your stay
  • Documents to show that you have enough money for your stay and return

Border control officials will check your identity on the basis of your travel documents and examine your papers to see that you meet all entry conditions.

If you hold a long-stay visa or a residence permit from one of the 22 EU countries that are in the Schengen area, you can move freely in this area for up 3 months during a six-month period of time.

If you have resided legally for an uninterrupted period of five years in an EU country, you can apply to become a long-term resident. You will need to meet certain conditions that may include demonstrate that you speak the local language. Long term residents status means that the person will have similar rights as EU citizens in areas that may include access to employment and work conditions, education and work-related training, social protection. The EU immigration portal has comprehensive information about all these topics.

domingo, 13 de noviembre de 2016

Gender diversity in Politics. What will the future bring us?

When Hillary Clinton dropped out of the Democratic primary in 2008, she said during her concession speach"Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time,"
Angela Merkel by א (Aleph) (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 2.5 
 via Wikimedia Commons
Eight years later, at thDemocratic National Convention, she was named as the first female presidential nominee of a major political party in the US. In her keynote speach she mentioned: "Tonight, we’ve reached a milestone in our nation’s march toward a more perfect union: the first time that a major party has nominated a woman for president. Standing here as my mother’s daughter, and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come. I’m happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. I’m happy for boys and men—because when any barrier falls in America, it clears the way for everyone. After all, when there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit."
In the recent election, she won in the popular vote but the way the votes were divided by states meant that Trump won the election. She sounded less optimistic in her concession speach"I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday, someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now."
During the last few days, I have read several articles in the US press where they doubt whether they will see a woman President anytime soon. As always, you can see the glass half empty or half full, but to me it is time to feel optimistic.

In Europe, Theresa May is Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party and Angela Merkelis the Chancellor of Germany and the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). We see progress in many places.
We will soon realize how much Hillary Clinton has accomplished and how she has helped gender equality take a huge leap forward. I am confident we will sooner than later see a female President in the US and in other European countries, such as Sweden and Spain.

sábado, 3 de septiembre de 2016

The US Equal Pay Pledge

I was reading a very interesting article in Los Angeles Times about the new U.S. administration's initiative to close the gender salary gap, the so called Equal Pay Pledge - Click here to see the full LA Times article.

Ikea Store By Twincinema (Own work)
[GFDL (,

via Wikimedia Commons
According to this commitment, each company will conduct a yearly analysis of its pay practices, review hiring and promotion procedures and adopt practices aimed at closing the pay gap between men and women. IKEA, Facebook, Apple, Linkedin and Microsoft are amongst the companies that have already signed the pledge.

Currently, women make up nearly half the U.S. labor force, "yet in 2014, a woman working full-time year-round in America earned only 79% of what the typical man earned".

In the European Commission website you find that equal pay for equal work is one of the founding principles of the European Union embedded in the Treaties since 1957. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides that each Member State shall ensure that the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value is applied.
The Commission Recommendation on strengthening the principle of equal pay between men and women through transparency, adopted in 2014, aims to assist Member States and other stakeholders in finding the right approaches to tackling pay discrimination and the persisting gender pay gap.

For instance, in Spain we have the "Plan de Igualdad" - Click here to see more information (in Spanish). The web provides practical guidance to design and elaborate these plans that must be in place for companies with more than 250 employees. The law establishes the need to set targets and follow up procedures to ensure progress is being made. In Sweden we have the Handlingsplan för jämställda löner that is compulsory for companies with more than 25 employees every 3 years.

Despite the EU legislation on equal pay in place, there is still a gender pay gap of about 16 % at EU level according to the above mentioned website of the European Commission. So there are good initiatives in place but there is still much work to be done.

sábado, 7 de mayo de 2016

Unlimited Paternity Leave at Netflix

I was impressed with the title of an article I discovered in the Huffington post: Here’s What It’s Like To Have ‘Unlimited’ Paternity Leave At Netflix.

Reading the article, I discovered Netflix has announced that employees — men and women — can take up to a year off after they have a kid. It does not apply to all employees, but  still it is a courageous initiative.

The article mentions they have a similar approach to vacation. This tells a lot about the relationship the company wants to establish with their workers.

We could say that Top US companies are offering around 16-20 weeks paternity leave, so the Netflix program is far beyond the benchmark.

In Spain, Paternity Leave lasts 16 weeks. This period can be shared between the mother and the father, except for the first 6 weeks.

Good luck Netflix with this brave initiative!

domingo, 14 de febrero de 2016

A Cash-Free Future in Sweden?

Can you imagine a cash-free society?

Few countries are moving so fast in this direction as Sweden. I enjoyed the recent article in the NY Times about this matter, In Sweden, a Cash-Free Future Nears.  

The article highlights that "Bills and coins now represent just 2% of Sweden’s economy, compared with 7.7% in the United States and 10% in the Euro-area"
"We are cash-free", as I saw in a Hotel in Sweden

Although many people speak in favor of electronic payments, they are not free from risks such as privacy concerns, potencial Internet crimes and difficulties for older people to adapt to the new methods of payment.

It is funny, at the very end of the article, an example is given about somebody who stops at a hot-dog stand and the card reader does not work. I experienced exactly the same situation this summer in hot-dog stand in Stockholm. I was lucky to have some cash with me...