“monoglot English graduates face a bleak economic future as qualified multilingual youngsters from other countries are proving to have a competitive advantage over their British counterparts in global companies and organisations.”
“The overwhelming majority… believe that if cross-border communication were to improve at their company, then profit, revenue and market share would all improve as well”.
– The Economist Intelligence Unit
“Big multinational companies recognise the importance of language skills. McKinsey counts more than 130 languages spoken across the management consultancy, and offers a bursary to those who wish to learn another language before joining. Unilever estimates that up to 80 of the consumer products group’s 100 most senior leaders speak at least two languages. Standard Chartered seeks out bilinguals for its international graduate training scheme”.
Financial Times [Paywall]
Almost every business now has an online component; almost every online business wants to leverage global reach and scale; and to leverage global reach you need localisation of language.
The very first McDonald’s of mainland China: Shenzhen, 1990.
Business in the new world isn’t going to demand that your senior team speaks multiple languages (although it would certainly help). It does, however, demand that they are capable of working internationally, sensitively to global cultures.