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Enhancing inclusion



Leveraging existing international talent in Denmark.


Photographs: Pexels

Text: Greete Eluri


Denmark, like many other countries, is facing a talent shortage, leading to a concerted effort to attract candidates from abroad. However, in this pursuit, there is a crucial aspect often overlooked – the internationals already residing in the country. What if these individuals were included in the processes right from the start? Despite the growing emphasis on attracting global talent, both private and public organisations in Denmark often neglect the internationals already present within the country. This oversight becomes particularly evident when organising events, where the target audience is frequently forgotten in the selection of speaker panels.


A personal perspective

As someone who has called Denmark home since 2010, I have witnessed a surprising lack of inclusion by companies striving to retain or attract international talent. My firsthand experience, along with insights from my international network and daily work as a career counsellor, sheds light on this prevalent issue. Events geared towards internationals in Denmark often feature speakers who are Danes. This raises a pertinent question – can a Dane effectively guide an international on living, working, and studying in Denmark? The inherent cultural differences suggest otherwise. Even if a Dane has been an expat themselves, their perspective may not fully align with that of an international.


In 2019, I was approached to teach an 'Employability' class to international students, marking the inception of a pilot project. Despite doubts about my teaching abilities, my unique perspective as an international who had navigated the challenges of settling in a new country made me the chosen candidate. The positive feedback from students emphasised the value of having a relatable instructor who had undergone a similar journey.


"Even if a Dane has been an expat themselves, their perspective may not fully align with that of an international."


Inclusivity

To address the need for inclusivity, companies and organisations can take simple yet impactful steps. For instance, inviting internationals to share their stories at company events can provide valuable insights for future employees. Each international brings a unique story, contributing to greater awareness and understanding. Inclusion is not just about surface-level understanding, such as knowing what Danes eat at julefrokost. It extends to uncovering the everyday quirks and nuances that may escape the awareness of Danes themselves. Internationals can offer perspectives that enrich the cultural understanding within the workplace.


For companies and organisations dealing with internationals in Denmark, true integration starts with seemingly small acts. Including internationals in events and processes can bridge the gap, fostering a deeper cultural understanding that benefits both the internationals and the Danish community. This approach not only enhances the experiences of internationals but also contributes to a more diverse and culturally rich work environment.


Denmark's focus on attracting global talent should not overshadow the significance of recognising and incorporating the existing international community. By actively involving internationals in various aspects of Danish society, from events to decision-making processes, the country can harness the diverse perspectives and experiences that these individuals bring. This not only aids in talent retention but also promotes a more inclusive and culturally aware society, benefiting both locals and internationals alike.

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