Human Resource Executive Online Interviews Fred Foulkes on International Experience at Global Firms

in Global Work, Organizational Behavior, SMG Hot Topics
March 15th, 2010

Which global companies truly understand the value of global representation?


Fred FoulkesFor an article assessing the top contenders on Human Resource Executives’ “Most Admired” list and “how they’re successfully tackling global-leadership challenges,” the magazine interviews Fred Foulkes, Boston University School of Management professor of organizational behavior and the faculty director of the School’s Human Resources Policy Institute. They report,

Most admired companies….pride [themselves] on sending high-potential executives to posts outside their own countries…. [But] not every global company gets it, according to Fred Foulkes, director of the Human Resources Policy Institute at Boston University’s School of Management. Some corporations still haven’t recognized that international experience and diversity can provide a competitive advantage.

“It’s very risky to take a global assignment in some companies,” he says. “Out of sight, out of mind. There’s a joke: In some companies, it’s better to get your global experience standing next to the globe outside the president’s office.”

Foulkes suggests a simple litmus test to determine which global companies understand the value of global representation: check passports. “If we take the top 100 executives of a [global] company, how many passports are represented?” The companies that get it, he says, will show a wide variety of passports from Europe, Asia, and other locales.

“Some companies are really working hard to make sure that diversity means [they] have lots of people of different nationalities in senior positions and in the pipeline,” says Foulkes.

Gaining that sort of representation in senior leadership means establishing the corporate culture and business practices, training on the local level, and creating a strong succession strategy for employee engagement.

From the article “Beyond Borders,” by Paul Gallagher, Human Resource Executive Online, December 1, 2009.