Foreign Business Mums

By June 26, 2013 No Comments

french_flagThis morning I hosted our monthly Bristol Business Mums meet-up. Out of 8 participants, including myself, 5 were foreign, including myself. Spanish, Mexican, Greek, Polish and French. Five mums who run or are launching their business in Bristol.

Some of them joined the group for the first time so we did an introduction round, to explain about our background and our current business. That is when a sort of pattern emerged from the discussion. What pattern? Well it’s pretty simple.

Step 1: I’m foreign and I move to England for whatever reason

Step 2: I have good qualifications in my own country, and sometimes a high-qualified job, so I’m confident I can find a good job in England

Step 3: all recruitment agencies care about is my language skills.

Is it a problem? Not really. I guess being offered a job, in the current economic climate, is a good thing. So we shouldn’t complain.

But. And it is a big but.

Recruitment agencies don’t seem to care about our other qualifications. Our REAL qualifications. Speaking a foreign language should be a plus. It’s certainly not the only skill that we have (at least in the group we had this morning).

Is it because we don’t always have degree equivalences? Or because we don’t speak English well enough? Or just because we get categorised as ‘speaks a foreign language’.

In the 5 years that I’ve been in Bristol, most of the job offers I received were for French or German-speaking customer service. Despite having a Master’s degree in international marketing and a rather good level in English. It feels like in 10 or 20 years I will still be offered the same positions.

So what happens?

Well, it’s pretty simple. You either carry on with low profile jobs, hoping that one day someone will give you the chance to prove that you’re capable of much more. Or you get fed up and you start your own business.

Guess which route these 5 women chose…


Photo credit: francois on Flickr