A popular expression in recent times has been “strength lies in differences, not similarities” and although this may sound contrary (and possibly a little hackneyed), it is acknowledged that national and cultural differences do contribute positively to the workplace.
Diesel and Marine Group is also contrary, in that it defies the perception that an international organisation must be based in a city to compete in world markets.
In some respects, the choice of location for the headquarters of Diesel and Marine Group is also contrary, in that it defies the perception that an international organisation must be based in a city to compete in world markets. Although London is the populist hub for attracting the most talented employees from across Europe and beyond, Diesel and Marine Group has a distinct advantage in being 65 miles (less than 90 minutes) from central London, situated in beautiful countryside surrounding Wherwell in Hampshire.
Clare Hogg, Director of Marketing and HR at Diesel Marine Group explains:
Even in the current political climate we like to think that our location is attractive as a base to potential employees from all over the world. These are employees who appreciate a different type of stimulating and challenging work environment, albeit one in an attractive rural setting, with close links to London and further afield.
Between us we have most of the world covered when it comes to being able to converse freely and effectively
At present, there are employees at Wherwell from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and South Africa. Across Diesel and Marine Group as a whole, there are native staff who are based in Poland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, South America and Singapore, and who speak a multitude of languages.
It’s a delight to be able to work with such an international and well-educated group of people. We also have employees across the organisation who have a real hunger to learn different languages and are currently receiving tuition. I think it’s important to challenge the status-quo of British business acumen whereby English is always the default language in all instances. We should be operating, in fact we do operate, in the language of our customers. Between us we have most of the world covered when it comes to being able to converse freely and effectively. Having such language skills means that we offer a higher level of worldwide support. Building on this level of assistance (and being seen to continue and evolve in this way) is crucial with Britain set to leave the European Union this month.
I really do believe in regular face-to-face contact with our colleagues outside of the UK and feel that it has benefited us enormously
A common challenge with international teams is that a single person working in a remote location may feel like they’re not truly part of the organisation, or that a group of employees working together in one location, or in the same language, may be perceived as a dominant force.
I understand that this can breed miscommunication and conflict if not handled correctly. We seek a culture of inclusion and supportive interactions with our non-UK employees and associates beyond email and telephone on a regular basis. Periodically, staff get the chance to meet up with each other at locations across the world and social occasions are included. Currently we are working on an intranet which will link us all together. It is a difficult balancing act, I really do believe in regular face-to-face contact with our colleagues outside of the UK and feel that it has benefited us enormously.
From Tyneside to Singapore, we come from all corners of the globe, but collectively we often laugh at the same things
On a less formal level, a nice aspect within Diesel and Marine Group is a highly developed sense of humour across staff from all nationalities (from the dry to the absurd).
I love the nuances in our humour which can often be quite unexpected, and the relief when our UK and German employees (for example) can laugh at the same thing. If nothing else, it shows a warmth towards the differences between us. From Tyneside to Singapore, we come from all corners of the globe, but collectively we often laugh at the same things.
Many people now have a plan at some point in their life to experience working in another country. Diesel and Marine Group is a connected, multinational employer, with a world outlook. Colleagues across the group are very supportive and benefit one another with the cross-pollination of local market knowledge and a good dose of humour! Cultural sensitivity and insight make the organisation more competitive and successful, as it addresses the challenges of working across borders, cultures, and languages.
From left to right: Spanish language tutor Anneliese Kiely with international staff from Diesel and Marine Group at the Wherwell headquarters