Supporting your diverse workforce, wherever they are!

Question of the month: Where do I find LGBTQ information?

Maybe you have heard some form of this question recently. Perhaps it came from a client, an employee, or as part of an RFP.

For us, clients have been increasingly asking about this information, and we’ve been happy to direct them to the details we provide on same-sex relationships, legislation, and culture as it relates to their employees’ business presence in a particular country.

But we wanted to do more. And the Global Mobility industry has been asking for more. As Jason Suto from BlackRock said on a recent FEM panel, “People have to feel valued, respected, and safe at any organization.” Educating all employees helps satisfy those needs. And so we have extracted, developed, and given a distinct place in our country reports to specific LGBTQ+ content.

Through this ongoing project, there are now “LGBTQ+” articles under “Family Matters” in 60 of our destinations. And the list is growing.

Developing additional content for this topic has revealed some interesting points. One is the fact that certain languages – like Czech, for example — are heavily gender-based, and adopting more inclusive, gender-neutral terms can be more of a challenge in these places. Another is that some nations have achieved such a level of inclusiveness – as Norway has — that LGBTQ groups are fewer than elsewhere, due partly to less need for advocacy as well as less social distinction among the larger population.

As companies’ policies and strategies evolve, the need to be informed will continue to build. While by no means exhaustive, here are a few organizations that operate around the world and provide meaningful information for specific countries:

Equaldex
Collaborative LGBT knowledge base providing timelines, maps, and other displays of legislation on various topics worldwide.

ILGA World
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association is a worldwide federation of more than 1,600 organizations from over 150 countries and territories campaigning for human rights. Established in 1978, ILGA World has ECOSOC consultative status at the United Nations.

International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association
Provides travel resources and information while continuously working to promote equality and safety within LGBTQ+ tourism worldwide. IGLTA’s members include LGBTQ+ friendly accommodations, transport, destinations, service providers, travel agents, tour operators, events and travel media located in over 80 countries.

OutLeadership
Global LGBTQ+ business network. Scroll down for briefs on LGBTQ+ business climate score, current legal status, and impact of discrimination on business and talent for 25 countries.

Stonewall Workplace Briefings
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Briefings outline the legal, socio-cultural and workplace situation for LGBT people in the specific countries, advise employers on how they can create inclusive and equal workplaces for LGBT employees around the world, and showcase progressive workplace practices.

Workplace Pride Foundation
Not-for-profit foundation dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTIQ+ people in workplaces worldwide, striving for a world of inclusive workplaces where LGBTIQ+ people can truly be themselves, are valued and, through their contributions, help to lead the way for others.

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group

Which statement is not true about Papua New Guinea currency?

What statement is not true about departing Papua New Guinea with more than PGK20,000 (US$5,800)?

a.  You need approval from the Bank of Papua New Guinea.
b.  Customs officials can make exceptions if the excess is small.

c.  You brought in more than PGK20,0000 less than 6 months earlier and can prove it.

d.  Country rules apply even if the amount is in foreign currency.

 

Click here for the answer!

Living near Portland, or…Portland?

Relocation everywhere — including within the United States — is being driven by new and exciting trends. More than ever, it seems, employees and their families are motivated to choose their locations by flexible options, welcoming environments, and personal ties.

Even when an employee’s destination lies outside of a traditional metropolitan area in the USA, it’s important to know that state-level resources and information can be very useful, especially for:

  • obtaining a driver’s license and other local identification
  • determining school requirements and identifying education resources
  • learning more about housing, utilities, legislation, and government
  • discovering area intercity and regional transportation networks
  • finding regional groups, clubs and activities

Below, you’ll find a list of Living Abroad’s USA city reports, re-grouped by state for easy reference. And if your employees are moving to USA metropolitan areas that extend across multiple states, such as New York City, Kansas City, Washington DC, Cincinnati, or St. Louis? Don’t worry — you’ll find that each report covers them all.

Written by Erin Fitzgerald, GMS, Content Manager

Home or Office? Or Both?

Discussion is popping up everywhere about employees returning to the office. An interesting poll by the Best Practice Institute was cited on a recent Love + Relo show:  “Some 83 percent of CEOs want employees back full-time, while only 10 percent of workers want back in.”  Many employees believe that most jobs can be done virtually, but leadership within organizations do not agree.

The pandemic made clear that it’s important to take time for family and living.  Commuting time was reclaimed, families quarantined together, and our habits changed from buying whatever we liked, whenever we liked, to standing in socially distanced lines to try and find familiar products at the market.  We learned how to manage our time, and how to get our work done.

Now as companies start to bring employees back to the office, some are setting specific dates for all employees to return.  Other companies express concern regarding the erosion of company culture over the last year.  New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio announced that 80,000 municipal workers were scheduled to return to their offices by May 3.  “We do not find that people are more productive at home. We find that people are more productive in the workplace and we are public servants,” de Blasio said.

But many employees think they were just as productive at home as in the office, and a hybrid approach offers more flexibility. A survey of economists suggests the ideal of 25% of all work being performed from home.

Smarter companies know that office culture will never be the same, and they may risk losing their best people if they are not flexible.  The “new” culture of work needs to accept the realities of family, personal time, health and more. It must acknowledge that many employees are capable of managing their workloads in a virtual setting.

First, we had the stress of working from home. Now we have the stress of returning to the office.  One thing is for sure: where and how we work will change in the future, and the changes can benefit employees and employers alike.

WFH Tips and Transitions

Globally mobile workers have long relied on Living Abroad’s experience bringing you superior content on a wide range of topics. But would it surprise you to know that we also have long experience working remotely?

For more than a decade, our core team has worked from home, utilizing an office periodically for meetings and planning sessions. And while pandemic shutdowns were jarring in many ways, we didn’t miss a beat with our workflow, which allowed us to flex and adjust quickly to our clients’ needs.

Here are some things that have worked for us over the years:

* Weekly company call to share what each person is working on and bring up any issues.

* Monthly in-person meeting (online during COVID) which is a little more in-depth as we spend additional time on broader topics and larger projects.

* Quarterly planning meetings during which we take stock of what’s been accomplished over the previous quarter and discuss the upcoming one. Again, these are typically in person and last a few hours.  We took these online last year.

Prior to the pandemic, people would occasionally ask me about my WFH situation. When everyone was forced into the same model, I got even more questions. Here are some common ones:

How do you deal with the isolation? The scheduled check-ins help with that. We also have an IM platform on all day, in addition to email and phone, so it always feels like someone is just a “ping” away. I also use my ‘coffee break’ to walk my dog, which often leads to friendly exchanges with neighbors.

How do you stay focused? I have always been very self-motivated. A productive day makes me happy. I’m a ‘list person,’ tracking goals for the day and week. Some days it helps to pace myself, when possible, arranging work to align with high- and low-energy periods. On extra-busy days, I just keep the coffee brewing and take comfort in the fact that I’m interrupted far less than if I were in an office.

Living Abroad has some excellent tools that make us very self-sufficient in our content management. We have the ability to interact with our content quickly and easily – even remotely.

It also helps to be organized. Over the years working from home, we’ve developed practices that work well to maintain our research library, manage our large database, share and store resources, and keep intact the institutional knowledge that comes with decades on the job. All of this helps us work efficiently, even on our own.

What about interacting with colleagues? Face-to-face contact is what I miss the most about an office. Those non-verbal cues you get from people about how their day’s going, and the water cooler conversations. But the prevalence of video calls now actually means we probably “see” each other just as much now – if not more – than before the pandemic.

Was there anything that was a tough work transition after the COVID shutdown? Yes, sharing my home base with my husband and grown son, who were also suddenly working from home. Our house is small, and we struggled to find space and quiet that worked for everyone. But we aimed for respect and patience. Our industry was going through so much change that it took all my brainpower to constantly adapt our skills and focus our offerings so that our clients remained supported and informed. All in all, we’ve been very fortunate.

Everyone’s jobs have changed in ways they never imagined over the past year. It will be interesting to see how the enforced remote work model of 2020 ends up disrupting the future workplace in all kinds of positive, flexible ways.

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group

When in Mozambique…

What statements are true about Mozambique?

a.  Driving is unsafe.

b.  Cashew wine is a traditional alcoholic beverage in Mozambique, created from the cashew apple fruit.

c.  Having a single drink, such as a can of beer or a glass of wine, is often enough for you to be considered in violation of the driving under the influence law.

d.  U.S. Dollars are an accepted form of currency.

 

Click here for the answer!

India: Ways to help

After months of hope that the second most populous country in the world would be able to keep up with medical support and resources during the pandemic, India is now a focus for international concern. As of the last week of April, India accounted for more than 1 out of 3 reported COVID-19 cases globally. As of the first week of May, almost 400,000 new cases are reported daily in India — and most agree this is an underestimate.

While anyone over the age of 18 in India is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine as of May 1, vaccine shortages are rampant. The country is also currently facing widespread shortages of hospital beds, oxygen tanks, and other key resources, which further challenges its ability to recover from the pandemic. As a result, it’s anticipated that India will deal with overwhelming levels of illness for some time to come.

Governments around the world are mobilizing in support. In addition, many organizations are providing immediate help in India, including food and income for impoverished communities, vaccine awareness, support for frontline workers, and the purchase of medical supplies for hospitals and clinics. A few of these organizations include:

Rapid Response

Indian Red Cross

UNICEF

Oxfam India 

Give India

When giving to support any cause, it’s important for donors to be comfortable with their choices. Two great resources for vetting charities are GuideStar, and Charity Navigator.
Written by Erin Fitzgerald, GMS, Content Manager

Living Abroad Obtains Prestigious Woman-Owned Business Designation

Living Abroad has received the WBE designation from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

Darien, CT – May 4, 2021 – Living Abroad, the go-to source for destination information and tools for global mobility managers and corporate travel programs, announced today that it has been designated a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise, or WBE, by the Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBENC).

WBENC certification is the most recognized and prestigious certification of its kind. Businesses seeking WBENC certification undergo a thorough vetting process to verify that the business is at least 51% woman-owned, operated, and controlled.

Cathy Heyne, president and owner of Living Abroad, said: “We’re pleased to be recognized by the WBENC as a WBE. The designation is more than a recognition of our ownership status. It connects us to a prestigious network of women-owned businesses and aligns with our own company values.”

Said Michael Cadden, vice president: “This designation verifies our commitment to leadership diversity in not just recommending it, but in doing it. Through working with Living Abroad, clients can achieve their own initiatives and demonstrate their commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

About WBENC

WBENC was founded in 1997 to develop a nationwide standard for women-owned business certification. Since then, the organization has grown to become the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States and a leading advocate for women-owned businesses in corporate and government supply chains.

A 501(c)(3) non-profit, WBENC partners with 14 Regional Partner Organizations to provide its world-class standard of certification to women-owned businesses throughout the country and offers programming and resources to help women-owned businesses thrive. Visit https://www.wbenc.org/.

About Living Abroad

Established in 1987, Living Abroad provides information and tools to corporations for their expatriate assignees and business travelers. Globally mobile employees get the knowledge they need to understand and succeed in any location. Covering over 235 destinations in depth, a subscription to Living Abroad is a necessity for everyone in your organization.

Living Abroad is a supporter of and participant in key industry organizations such as the Worldwide ERC, The Forum for Expatriate Management (FEM), Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Global HRNews. Living Abroad also runs the New York City chapter of the Forum for Expatriate Management (FEM). Visit https://www.livingabroad.com/.

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Media Contact
Shadra Bruce
DaSh factor LLC shadra@dashfactor.com 607-377-7561

One can dream

Today a colleague sent around a “breaking news report” from the New York Times:  European countries may allow American tourists to visit this summer if they show proof of being fully vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.  This was incredibly encouraging since global business travel has begun intra-EU and international assignments can’t be too far behind.

According to the UN World Tourism Organization, Europe’s top five most-visited countries are Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.  Currently travel to France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom remain heavily restricted, and travel to Germany is not advised for American citizens by the U.S. State Department.

As the EU is anxious to restore tourism after a year of no travel, Americans are anxious to get on a plane and head to Europe. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions Americans not to go to Greece, Italy, Spain or the United Kingdom.  Currently more than half of the population in those countries have received a first vaccine dose and outdoor restaurants have reopened, along with nonessential shops.

If you are traveling to Europe for essential business, the EU Commission’s Re-open EU App can also help. This app provides up-to-date information on the health situation, safety precautions, and travel restrictions for all EU countries.  It also includes the non-EU members of the Schengen area: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.  As borders open for business travelers, country entry requirements continue to change on a daily basis. Fragomen is a good source for regularly updated immigration summaries, by country.

As we continue to sit tight in the global mobility industry, articles like these give us hope that the end of the mass lockdowns are near, and life as we know it, at least for global mobility, can slowly return to normalcy.

I don’t know about you but thinking of a café crème in one hand and a fresh croissant in the other, a summer vacation in Paris sounds good right about now. Enjoy our new video on France!

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Written by Cathy Heyne, GMS-T, Managing Director

Don’t forget the fuzzy slippers

Moving comfortably

Anywhere you go around the world, you’ll see local ideas of comfort. Whether it’s heavily accented décor or light Scandinavian simplicity, design tastes are also very personal. Though heightened over the past year, people’s yearning to create their own sanctuary is as old as time.

We’re all familiar with the Danish and Norwegian word hygge (pronounced “hyoo-guh”), meaning comfort, coziness, contentment, and well-being.  The concept of feng shui is also part of our collective conscience. From the words “wind” and “water,” it describes a flow and balance of objects in a way that optimizes a person’s connection to their environment.

More recently, “comfort decorating” has been embraced as a style that encourages people to furnish their space with items that evoke feelings rather than aesthetics. These could be meaningful family heirlooms or something more modern. The goal is to promote calm and reduce stress.

Relocating is a good time to think about all this. Whether moving domestically or internationally, what gets shipped is more important than ever. And how you organize your space might be very different than you would have envisioned 15 months ago.

A few things to keep in mind:

– Think about uses for your space. Will you need a home office? A quiet spot for remote learning? Have you taken up a new hobby and need room for painting, woodworking, or gardening? Optimal spatial flow is different for every family.

– Think about color, light, and even sound. Paint choices make a difference and can project harmony and serenity – or not. Window treatments and choice of light fixtures will affect the brightness and mood of your space. Placement of audio equipment or wireless speakers can facilitate access to music, news, podcasts, and digital assistants.

– Beyond everyday essentials, think about objects and furniture that provide comfort or usefulness, eliminating those that cause friction or inconvenience.

– Check the shipping costs and customs requirements for your destination to determine any import restrictions or size constraints. These days, many people are making domestic moves, which are less likely to have as many costs covered by an employer. It makes sense to make wise choices in terms of comfort, utility, and cost.

– Take advantage of technology for things that might otherwise accumulate as clutter. For example, newspapers, magazines, and certain types of mail – like bills, bank and credit card statements – can be accessed digitally, thereby alleviating piles of paper. Preparing for a move is a good time to take stock of which items you want to switch to digital versions.

Of course, for some people those piles can be the source of comfort. For example, I love to have a stack of unread books by my bedside table. It makes me happy to see them there, anticipating the next good read.

So, whatever brings you comfort and makes you content and efficient in your space, moving is a great time to re-assess your belongings so you can create your best space in your new home.

 

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group