While it’s not the only factor, there is no doubt that being able to speak a local language is a key to doing business in any given country. And while certain languages are common in large groups of countries (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic and others) there are some that may be limited in the number of countries spoken, but have a very important reach in terms of population numbers and of course, where a company may intend to do business.
According to a recent CNBC article “Language Barriers and Miscommunications are Stifling Growth“, almost half of executives surveyed admitted that communication misunderstandings have stood in the way of major international business deals and therefore resulted in significant losses for their companies. Additionally, 9 out of 10 expect their number of international clients to increase over the next three years, highlighting the need companies have for language competency, as well as areas that future job seekers should consider.
As a U.S. company that deals with the Hispanic market within the U.S. as well as Latin America, we have worked to put together a multilingual team. The benefits of this have been evident from evaluating clients’ marketing efforts to doing business in Latin America. I have come to the conclusion that not only is language and cultural understanding important for the employer, but is also a considerable plus for job seekers in their evaluation of a company.
As the article states, language competency does require focus on the part of companies, and while not easy to achieve, it is imperative that companies looking to do business internationally create an environment that fosters both linguistic and cultural understanding.