Parsable Podcast

Diversity & Inclusion: Embracing Foreign-Born Communities in Manufacturing

We’ve talked a lot on this show about the challenges manufacturers face when it comes to recruiting and retaining workers.

What if manufacturers did more to appeal to the foreign-born talent pool—a segment that made up 19% of the manufacturing workforce in 2018? Would that help solve our workforce shortage?

In this episode, Wendy Pease, a Language Translation Expert and the CEO at Rapport International, joins the show to discuss how manufacturers today can attract, engage, and retain local members of foreign-born communities.

We discuss:

  • The importance of embracing foreign-born communities in today’s workforce
  • How Boston Centerless became fully staffed by attracting local foreign-born workers
  • Best practices for successful operations across a diverse workforce
  • Where to meet with community leaders and recruit foreign-born workers


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Check out the full episode below:

[00:00:00] Wendy Pease: The number one problem I see with companies is they say, “Oh, we’ll hire them, then we’ll teach them English, then we’ll have this great work staff and then we could do business as usual.” That doesn’t work, because you can find some incredible employees that don’t have language skills.


[00:00:21] Josh Santo: Welcome to Conquering Chaos, the show for manufacturing leaders. In each episode, we’re connecting you to the manufacturing leaders of today who are driving the innovations needed to future-proof the operations of tomorrow. If you feel like your time is spent fighting fires and trying to control the everyday chaos, this show is the show for you. My name is Josh Santo. I’ll be your host.


[00:00:49] Josh: Hey y’all, it’s Josh. Before we get into this episode, I wanted to put this into your ear. If you like the types of conversations we’re having, you’ll enjoy the content that we share through our mailing list, go to, scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up to get more insightful content delivered directly to your inbox. Okay, on to the show.

Coming up on the show, we’re speaking to a passionate leader who specializes in connecting people across languages and cultures. That comes through in her various pursuits from traveling the world to advising a variety of companies across industries on communication. Now, how does this tie back to manufacturing? Let’s take a look at the current workforce challenges as an example. Part of the problem is centered around communication. Who are you trying to reach? How, what is your message, and are you even, and I mean this quite literally and figuratively, speaking the same language?

Our next guest is the CEO of Report International, which specializes in multilingual communications that help businesses reach their target audience. She’s the host of the Global Marketing Show podcast and the author of the book, The Language of Global Marketing. Please welcome to the show, Wendy Pease, Wendy, thanks so much for joining us today.

[00:02:13] Wendy: Thank you, Josh. It’s great to be here.

[00:02:16] Josh: It’s great to have you here. We like to start each show with the same question, which is, what’s your day-to-day look like in your role, and this can be both works as well as home because we all know that home and work have merged in recent times.

[00:02:33] Wendy: They certainly have, except in recent times, and past times, my life has been merged. I originally bought Report International, because I had two young children, and I wanted to be able to own a company and control my time schedule, rather than running off to a corporate office and working seven to seven and having to do dinners and travel.

I’ve worked from home for 17 years, and all the employees that I’ve hired work from home. Through the years, we thought, “Should we get an office,” and the verdict is always, no. When we had to go– we were virtual before the cloud, and we had to go virtual for COVID, we were already there. It works for us.

[00:03:18] Josh: Got it. You’ve been through this way before everyone else had to make that transition. I know one of the things that I had to learn pretty quickly, especially adapting to having to be from a home working environment is putting those boundaries in place as far as like, work starts at this time work ends at this time because it was too easy for work to just be like something that was always there for me. Now, I don’t know if that’s something you struggled with, but I certainly did.

[00:03:49] Wendy: At the start of COVID, I had no social activities going on, so I had a choice, I could either work or I could do home projects. I much prefer my work over home projects. I did a lot of work but it was a really productive year, I wrote and published a book and launched a podcast, the Global Marketing Show where I’m talking to people like you who do global marketing. For me, my work is a release and of an outpouring of my creativity, when I put the extra hours in. Over the last six months, I’ve pulled back a little bit more because there’s slightly more socializing, we understand what could go on.

You do have to put boundaries in. I really tried not to work on the weekends. My productive time is first thing in the morning. I’ll get up and sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and work for a while where I can get that undisturbed thinking anytime between five and seven, and then probably around 7:38 o’clock I take off and I go work out. I got a new Peloton, so, thoroughly enjoying that and then I’ll come back and work the day. I knock off probably around four or five o’clock at least.

[00:05:04] Josh: It’s a common theme that I’ve seen with the leaders that we bring on to the podcast is there is a dedicated time in the morning before the fires pop up and the chaos takes over, that quiet time to reflect or visualize or just gather thoughts that are going to enable that centered approach to the day, as well as exercise. Everyone listening part of conquering the everyday chaos within the manufacturing environment is conquering your own chaos within your personal life. That’s a common theme, an undisturbed thinking exercise that sets you up to execute at the level at which you need to be.

[00:05:46] Wendy: Also, a gratitude practice, the November before the world shut down, I started a gratitude practice. Before I got out of bed every day, I was always thinking about what I needed to get done, and then I’d get out of bed kind of charge. I changed that to thinking about what are the things in my life that I’m grateful for. I tried to pick special moments like seeing a cardinal in the backyard or a funny joke that my son told or a good conversation that I had at work. That just changed my whole view on the world, and so I certainly add that into my morning ritual too.

[00:06:20] Josh: That was a theme we just recorded with an individual named Sarah Dale, she’s a plant manager at International Paper, and that’s one of the things she spoke of really changing how she approached her day, was taking that moment of finding, what is it that I’m grateful for. It comes back to that look, it is a very challenging time outside of work. It’s a challenging time inside of work, particularly in manufacturing, with the different struggles between the supply chain issues, the workforce issues, there’s a lot of, pressure, frustration, and really it comes down to an individual mindset, especially for the leaders.

That right mindset is going to reflect the culture and it’s going to be infectious. Being able to bring that centered, appreciative, real, I would say grounded perspective, makes an impact. Let’s talk about making an impact. We’ve spoken on this show in the past, about the difficulties that manufacturers are facing, recruiting and retaining workers while also preparing for the upcoming retirement of the experienced workers. You get these two– this perfect storm coming.

We had an individual named Jim Parker. He’s the director of quality and operational excellence at Inland Plastics. He joined us to share how they’ve reduced turnover and improved retention within the first 90 days. We’ve spoken to Paula O’driscoll from J&J, and Anthony Lloyd from Schneider Electric, they shared how they’re engaging the next generation of industry leaders through their work with the World Economic Forum.

We even interviewed [unintelligible 00:07:55] from OFI, she shared her experience as a Gen-Z manufacturing professional. We invited Wendy here to talk about today’s perspective that hasn’t come up yet on the show, and that’s appealing to foreign-born workers. According to the National Immigration forum, and this is as of 2018, it’s a little out of date at this point, but it was the most recent statistics that I could find, immigrants make up 17% of the US workforce, and 19% of the manufacturing labor force.

That’s a pretty significant number about a fifth of the manufacturing workforce. What if you could further appeal to that community? How would that help with your workforce issues? That’s what we’re talking about today, how manufacturers can attract, engage and delight local members of foreign-born communities. Wendy, my first question to you. You work with many types of industries, not just manufacturing, talk to us about the importance of embracing foreign-born communities in today’s workforce.

[00:09:02] Wendy: It is such a huge opportunity for manufacturers. First off, I have to say, Josh, when we first connected, I went to your website, Parsable’s website to look at the services that you’re offering. I was so excited to see that you offer the platform in multiple languages because the service that you have helps with improving safety and quality and productivity. If you do that, only in English, you’re really limiting what you can do on the shop floor. I’m so thrilled that your blinders are off, and you know the opportunity there for companies that manufacture internationally or just in the United States.

I’d love to give an example of a client of ours called Boston Centerless, who recognized, years ago, that they had trouble hiring in their area, but there was a huge population of Spanish speakers and Vietnamese speakers. What they did was figure out how to build an environment that would be very friendly and inclusive for people who didn’t speak English. The number one problem I see with companies is they say, “Oh, we’ll hire them, then we’ll teach them English, then we’ll have this great work staff and then we could do business as usual.” That doesn’t work, because you can find some incredible employees that don’t have language skills.

For example, this Boston Centerless, they do precise manufacturing of metal rods. They have to be extremely high quality because they’re used in medical devices and so if something is not extremely precise, it can cause major injuries. They had to figure out how are we going to attract new employees, how are we going to hire them and train them, and then, how are we going to engage them, so they actually want to stay, and find it such a friendly workforce that they actually refer people in, so they don’t have trouble hiring.

They did it from the start. They would go to those hiring trade shows, pre-COVID, and they would translate the brochure. They’d have a QR code that would then go to their website with information in Spanish, they started out with. People could do the application in on there. Then when they came in for the interview they did have some bilingual speakers that they had hired on staff, but if you don’t, you can always use telephone interpreting or you can hire an interpreter and do a series of interviews throughout the day to find people.

Now the immigrants that come to the US are extremely highly qualified for the most part. A lot of them have masters and PhDs. They’ve been lawyers and doctors in their country, and they’ve come over here. Sometimes they’re working in housekeeping jobs or other things like that because they can’t do their original profession because they don’t have the language skills. Everything that you hear in the popular press about they are here illegally or they’ve crossed the border or all that stuff, that’s a small percentage of the immigrants that have come in. The resources are out there, the people that are out there that you can hire are extremely highly qualified.

We’re talking about attracting and how you bring them on. Then you do the interview, you have somebody help facilitate that conversation, and we’ve provided interpreters for benefits meetings, for hiring, and for translating those brochures. The next step is you bring them on and you have to train them. You have to make sure they’re fully trained, the manuals are in language so they can refer to them, and that they also know what the company rallies around.

In Boston Centerless, they’re rallying around precise manufacturing. They’re looking for people that are extremely detail-oriented, that like to do things the same way, over and over again. It’s not creativity, but it’s that style of person. When you train them, then they can do that. They’ve done some good things like I was talking about, the safety and the damages they can cause, they have signs all over the place that show what can happen, and they’re gruesome pictures of injuries that can happen if the precise manufacturing isn’t done, so it’s there as a reminder.

For the training, they’ve got a big whiteboard up with magnets and everybody on the shop floor, their names up there. When the train on different stations, they add magnets into that area, so everybody can see who’s trained in what area and so if they need backup they can go. In addition, this makes it very equal for how people are promoted and get raises because the more you’re cross-trained the more valuable you become to the company.

Another area is, how do you reward and communicate when projects are done and the statistics around it. They’ve developed this statue called Tim wood. It’s a wooden mannequin that stands about 5″, tall and rolls around the shop floor to different stations. When they finish a job, it has the numbers on it of how precise, how many they manufactured, whatever the stats are that they had to do. People can see when a job is finished.

They’ve incorporated a lot of visuals that don’t need a lot of explanation or reading. Somebody can glance at it really quickly and understand what it says. Then for the third. You’ve got the attract, you’ve got the engage, and then how do you delight? These are marketing terms, but I think it attracts, retain and includes across the hiring. When you get to delighting their employees and making them feel engaged, what can you do about that?

They started with Spanish and then went into other languages. I think they have about eight or nine different languages spoken there. For all the countries that people are from, they hang a flag up on the shop floor. When you walk in, you see your country’s flag up there, and there’s pride in that. If anybody leaves and that country’s no longer represented, they take that down. They put them on up and take them down so it’s a very active reminder of the diversity that’s there.

For their holiday party, they do a potluck, and people bring food from their native country, and they say that’s one of the favorite events that they do throughout the year. There, they’re celebrating the culture. They’ve promoted supervisors who are bilingual. Then, teaching English is a benefit. It’s not a must-have, but then people who want to learn English can opt-in, into the classes. You can see through the whole cycle from how are we going to find people, how are we going to bring them on and train them, and then how are we going to make them really feel part of the team.

They’ve done these things throughout and they’re consistent at it. Now, the added benefit for it is they’re practically fully staffed in this era when everybody’s having a hard time hiring because they hire friends and family of the people already working there. You’re working there and you have a cousin or your spouse or your child or somebody wants to come work there, they get a referral bonus for referring– the employee gets a referral bonus for referring somebody in, and then they get to work with people that they know like already. They’ve got this whole circle of how do I find new employees? It’s naturally feeding the engine.

[00:17:06] Josh: There are a lot of great comments in the stories that you shared there. I want to go through a couple of those, but I want to emphasize, that last thing that you said, here’s an added benefit that you may not realize, but they’re practically fully staffed. How many companies can say that these days? There are a lot of great points that you brought up, and I want to go through a few of those.

One of those is starting on that idea of– and we actually had a guest sometime last year his name was Greg Chamberlain. He talked about how your talent supply, think of it as a talent supply chain, is local. You need to think of how manufacturing impacts the local communities, and in doing so you have to understand who are the local communities. By doing that, now you can start to build who is it that we can reach out to, because our organization is providing a service to the local communities, and we want to engage the different local communities.

Part of those local communities do include foreign-born people. Wherever you live, there are certainly these communities of foreign-born individuals, and it’s a great way to get exposure to that diverse culture which is so critical. We’re going to come to that point that you made on the delighting side, but [crosstalk] [unintelligible 00:18:29]

[00:18:29] Wendy: Let me just add in on that too, just that you have manufacturing organizations or companies that are usually based in lower-rent communities because you don’t need the retail space. You don’t need to be on fifth avenue. You can be out someplace, and if you look around that community, there usually is a lot of immigrants that are there, so knowing your town and tapping into that.

[00:18:53] Josh: One of the ideas that have come up consistently on the show is that manufacturing has a marketing problem. It’s not so much marketing of the goods that they’re selling, but it’s marketing from what is our perception within the industry and who are we trying to reach, particularly in this conversation. Who are we trying to reach to bring people on. I love that you called out that the organization that you’re working with took the time to reflect on, who are the types of people that we’re seeking to bring into our environment.

We’re looking for detail-oriented people. We’re looking for detail-oriented people across the different basis of communities that are nearby. We know that we are looking for this type of person. This type of person exists within every culture, so how can we cast a wider net? Back to that statistic, a fifth of the manufacturing workforce is made up of foreign-born workers. I’ve certainly seen that firsthand in my work here at Parsable.

I’ve been to hundreds of different manufacturing facilities and a significant amount of people that I’ve interacted with, are English as a second language, and there is definitely, in those people, there’s a– I don’t want to speak on their behalf, but sometimes there are sensitivities about language skills. I’ve certainly been there in my time working and living in France trying to speak French and failing pretty poorly at it. It’s tough to be in a world where it’s tough to communicate. I’ve worked with manufacturers who, like you mentioned before, Parsable’s available in 18 languages and counting, and part of their requirements–

[00:20:39] Wendy: I love that. I love that. When we were talking earlier, you said that it depends on the device. Almost everybody has a smartphone now. If your device is set to Spanish or Korean or Russian or whatever, the Parsble app is going to come up in that language. Imagine the safety and quality and productivity that you can manage through that across all the languages. I just can’t say enough how thrilled I am that you have translated that and you see the vision for it.

[00:21:16] Josh: It’s critical because you’re right, especially in manufacturing where your top concerns are, one, safety and then quality and productivity, there’s certain critical pieces of information that people need to know and must have access to, in a way that they can consume it, that’s a critical part. It’s not a good enough job if it’s like, “Okay, here’s the book on safety, you need to know this at all times,” that’s not going to work for anyone, it needs to be something that they can consume.

[00:21:46] Wendy: And close the loop, report on. How do you make that accessible in language? Many times I see tech companies or manufacturing companies not think global from the start or think multilingual from the start because even in manufacturing, there’s a need and a desire for US goods internationally. Hat’s off to you guys.

[00:22:10] Josh: Yes, one customer that we worked with, we were first starting conversations with them, the guy we were talking to, he said, “Our site is made up of a significant portion of the Bulgarian community. You have to be able to support Bulgarian or this is a non-starter.” It’s that type of experience that, I want to make sure doesn’t get overlooked. There is a significant portion of our team members who are English as a second language, who are connected to their community, who can, and to the point that we’ll get to, provide those referrals as well because that is the best way for recruit, is the referral-based approach.

[00:22:53] Wendy: Yes, and the benefit to the people that you hire is they become so loyal. Because, if you imagine you’re in the US, you’re college-educated, you’ve held a good job in your country and now you’re here in the United States, for whatever reason and you don’t speak English. It’s really hard to get a good job where you have consistency, you’ve got long longevity, you’ve got commitment, you’re mentally challenged, you get benefits, you get holiday pay.

These jobs are really good for people that don’t speak English, and they become loyal because they’re part of a real company that’s building something. They don’t feel like they’re just part of the disposable workforce.


[00:23:40] Josh: We’re going to take a real quick break to hear from our sponsors, stay tuned for more Conquering Chaos.

[00:23:46] Rob: Hey listeners, it’s Rob. I’m one of the producers on conquering chaos. I’m right here with you for every episode, working behind the scenes to make sure everything is just right for your listening experience. Whether you’re a new listener, binging content to help you conquer the everyday chaos, or a dedicated fan tuning in for each new episode, there’s one thing to always keep in mind, information is useless unless you use it.

Obvious, right? But it’s so easy to learn, forget, and then miss out on the opportunity to make real improvements to day-to-day activities. The folks at Parsable have an opportunity for you to learn, experience, and make real improvements to those same day-to-day activities. Get rid of paper on the factory floor. It’s the quickest and easiest way to make a measurable impact on safety, quality, and production.

Think about it, paper-based checklists, forms and SOPs isolate workers from getting the information they need when they need it, which leads to a number of inherent inefficiencies that you probably accept as a part of your own everyday chaos. As a result, you can’t respond quickly to problems. You struggle to standardize the completion of critical tasks and you miss out on new, continuous improvement opportunities.

Parsable is proven to help across a number of different functions, including autonomous maintenance, line changeovers, in-process quality checks and more which has helped industry-leading manufacturers reduce unplanned downtime, increase OEE, improve throughput, and more. See for yourself how easy it is to bring a connected digital experience to your frontline workers by using Parsable risk-free for 30 days. Check the show notes for the link, all right. Back to the show.

[00:25:50] Josh: Absolutely, one of the things that I loved about the story that you shared, we’re talking about delighting, the word that came to mind with everything that you were describing was this idea of representation. People want to feel, heard, included, represented, and especially we think about, you and I both are Americans we’re proud of that fact. We’re Americans we’re proud. That same pride comes from people from foreign-born communities. People are proud of their heritage. There’s and that ties closely to identity.

Something I learned from Seth Godin is the idea that to appeal to people, we got to keep this idea in mind, which is that the way that people think is, “People like us do things like this.” To be able to represent a community and show that not only are you represented but you are embraced and welcome goes a long way on ESG from a diversity, equity, and inclusion perspective.

It gets to that idea of delighting and when you delight people, you’ve got those advocates and what do advocates do they say, “Hey, people that I care about, you need to know about this great opportunity. Let me tell you about it. Let me bring you in.” Like you called out practically, fully staffed, that’s a big deal.

[00:27:16] Wendy: That is a huge deal, it’s a huge deal. What is coming to mind for me now is, if you’re a manufacturer and you’re listening to this and you go, “This could be something that I’m interested in looking at,” many people are afraid of different cultures and languages but if you take those blinders back a little bit and you want to figure out how to start, I am certainly happy to do an introductory call. We’ve got a case study on our website about Boston Centerless.

Our website is If you just go to the search bar on the top right and search for Boston Centerless, you can see that and you can read more in detail about it. I’m happy to help in any way on that. Again, there is– I’m doing a presentation in a month or so for a SHERM continuing education, that walks through the steps and all the considerations and different frameworks for thinking about how you’d think about what content you need on each stage and how you set that it up.

Once you get the strategy where you want to go, then you develop a process around it. Then you can look at which quality you need for translation, what resources. You need high-quality translation, a human professional to do any of your safety and your training material, but yes, Google translates for you, sitting in the coffee room and you’re trying to figure out just how to connect with somebody works out fine.

You think about strategy, process, where you can leverage technology, and what quality you need. Then once you lay that out for one language, you can replicate it for other languages if that’s what you want to do.

[00:29:01] Josh: It’s a bit of a standard operating process in what you just described. You build out, here’s the standard way to approach it, and then it becomes a repeatable and scalable approach so that you’re not reinventing the wheel every time.

[00:29:14] Wendy: Yes, how nicely said, thank you, Josh.

[00:29:16] Josh: Of course. One of the things that we brought up is that we’re essentially talking about how to market opportunities within manufacturing to a new audience or an audience that may not always be thought of first and foremost. You have to be targeted, you have to know who you’re trying to reach, you have to know what matters to them you have to stand out from the rest and there can be pitfalls along the way. I would love to hear from your perspective, what should manufacturers who are seeking to reach foreign-born communities, What should they be wary of? Where could they go wrong inadvertently?

[00:29:53] Wendy: I talked about Google Translate. I think you’ve got to be really careful in what aspect you’re using that because you don’t want to increase your liability, the quality is not there. I have tons of examples on that. Look at the resources that you’re using for language communication. I think another thing is if you’re going to do this, you spend a lot of time thinking about culture and how to rally around what your goal is.

Disney rallies, their global workforce around the child within us, Boston Centerless does it on precision manufacturing. In manufacturing, there is a lot of rallying about different ways of how to do you articulate quality, that’s important. If you don’t spend a lot of time building the culture, that’s going to be inclusive. You can get to the us versus them mentality and that can just sink you because people aren’t going to be working together, they’re going to be afraid.

Look at your resources, look at how you’re going to build your culture. I think the other thing is, if you don’t start doing it now, you’re going to look back and regret it. I think the biggest thing that holds people back from not doing it is this fear of other languages and cultures. I’ve lived around the world and I thrive talking to people from different countries basically people want to live in a place that’s safe, they want to provide for their family, they want to have engaging work and they like to have a sense of humor and laugh about things.

That’s my own analysis of what people want and that goes across the world. A smile is the only gesture that is recognized everywhere and that can go a far way. Don’t be afraid. Be open, stay curious, that’s the number one thing I hear on the Global Marketing Show for people talking about when you’re traveling internationally for building your business, is just stay curious and ask. There are delicate ways to ask things and people are so much happier being asked rather than not, and having an uncomfortable situation.

[00:32:10] Josh: A key idea that was underlying a lot of what you’ve brought up is, and you said it, culture. Because one thing we want to make sure we don’t forget is, it’s not just translating words. It’s how to appeal to people from a different background whose culture consists of things that you may not be as familiar with. As I said, it’s more than just a change of words and a change of language, it’s a change of culture. Humor is a big part of the culture. Things that are funny in one culture, are not necessarily as funny in another culture.

I love that you brought up rallying around culture because it does– you do have to understand, that cultural differences do play a part and they shouldn’t be diminished or dismissed, they should be embraced and celebrated. I the example that you provided, I love it. Bring a dish that is representative of your culture, of where you’re from. I certainly love that idea.

[00:33:18] Wendy: There’s a lot of other hints too when you’re working with people across cultures and you started to say if you’re working with people from different– we’re talking about two cultures here, one is the culture of the workforce and the other is different cultures from around the world. When you’re working with people from different cultures around the world, you also have to be aware of body language and responses.

For example, a head nod, in some cultures can mean, yes, I hear you but it may not mean I agree with you. They may mean maybe nodding and you may be thinking that “Oh, okay, they’re going to do what I want, or they agree with me.” You do have to slow down communications and have people– you talk slower, you have them repeat, you ask in different ways, “Do you foresee any issues that could arise with this?”

There are delicate ways to ask, to hear if there’s something that they disagree with that they wouldn’t want to cause shame by pointing out that you’re making a mistake. There are little subtleties that you start to learn. That’s where, if you have an interpreter or you have somebody that’s fully bilingual that can notice and articulate these, they can be a cultural conduit to help you understand what might be going on.

[00:34:38] Josh: I love that, a cultural conduit.

[00:34:41] Wendy: Yes, and the other thing that we absolutely have to point out is, if you’ve done no educational and diversity equity and inclusion, the companies that are diverse, have higher revenues, they produce more, they’re more stable. The statistics are, they slightly vary between women and people of color and culture. They range between like 20% and 30% outperforming their competitors that are non-diverse and companies that are not diverse at all are like 25% underperforming.

I know it’s a struggle right now to hire people. You may be doing this just to get bodies in the seats or get fully employed, but the benefit of doing it is it’s going to show in your company because you are going to get other viewpoints that are going to make you better and stronger. You will see a financial payoff to this too.

[00:35:38] Josh: Absolutely, aside from being a morally good thing, diversity, equity, and inclusion, there are tangible impacts that have been well researched and studied because of that diverse background, the different ways of approaching problems. Because, we all know, in manufacturing, that’s the reason for the name of the show, Conquering Chaos, it’s sometimes anything but straightforward.

A lot of times what you’re doing is you’re fighting fires. You’re having to deal with different problems and having someone bring a unique perspective and a viewpoint too, “I see this problem, this way, here are solutions that I’ve experienced, or that relate to that,” that’s what drives innovation. To your point, innovation fuels your competitive advantage.

If you think about the other point that you made, which is starting now, this is part of the competitive advantage of, “How do we get fully staffed, tackle production, quality, and safety, all these areas that are essential to surviving within manufacturing and do it quicker than our competitors. There’s that first-mover advantage with tapping into these different communities that are located around, not just United States, but it’s all across the world. I certainly have the habit of thinking very US-based, which is a problem for me, everyone I’m working on it.

[00:36:56] Wendy: [laughs] I’m so glad you brought up innovation because the companies that are diverse have higher innovation, that’s proven too. One of the stories that I love is Pepperidge Farms. They make the little cookies and they had a lot of Latino workers in the factory. They said, “How come Latinos don’t buy Pepperidge Farms? They said, “You don’t have a flavor that’s very common in the Latino markets in the US.”

They said, “What’s that?” They said, “Strawberries,” so they made a strawberry Pepperidge Farm cookie, and it flew off the shelves in the Latino neighborhoods. It’s little things like that you may not realize that if you’re diverse, you get insights, that are going to help your company.

[00:37:43] Josh: I love that story. It reminds me of the story of– I don’t know all the details and I’m going to butcher the story, please forgive me if I get it wrong. It’s related to Cheetos and the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. An individual, I believe he’s a Hispanic individual, he was adding or suggesting a particular flavoring that he enjoyed. That’s what eventually became the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which is a huge hit across cultures. I love flaming hot Cheetos.

[00:38:15] Wendy: Oh, my teens can’t get enough of flaming hot Cheetos.

[00:38:19] Josh: I know.

[00:38:21] Wendy: Yes so innovation and that extends to manufacturing too, because it’s a different viewpoint.

[00:38:27] Josh: Different perspective.

[00:38:29] Wendy: Perspective is a better way to say it, yes.

[00:38:31] Josh: Let’s talk about setting up operations for success when building a diverse workforce. Let’s talk about some best practices. We mentioned a few things, a common one that I think came up in some of the examples is how to make work visual, it’s certainly something that we see because visuals span across languages. That’s one of the things that we focus on at Parsable, one of the major use cases is providing work instructions, so that what task you need to complete, but also providing the how to complete that particular task.

This is true for not just different cultures, but different generations as well. Millennials and Gen Z, we don’t want to read a ton of text. We’re YouTube video TikTok videos. How can you embed visuals that communicate how to perform, let’s say, in this example, it’s a clean inspection lubricate the process, “This is how you address this part of the machine. Here’s specifically, where you need to look.” You’ve got that video that walks you through, that can then be used across languages.

[00:39:43] Wendy: Yes, videos are a great way to do visuals because if you’ve got something you’re just showing, you could put music in the background, and then it doesn’t matter what language somebody speaks, everybody can watch it. If you do have something that takes language, you can do subtitles. If you script it out, all you have to do is translate the script, and then the video editor can put those across the bottom of the screen.

People are used to reading subtitles, that’s the part of the Millennial-Gen Z thing, you’re so used to watching videos when you’re trying not to make noise, that people are accepting subtitles a lot more common now. If you hire a voiceover person to do it, you’ve got to do the translation, and then you also have to hire a person, get them to do the audio file, and then match the audio file to the video, so it’s a lot more complex.

[00:40:40] Josh: Absolutely, that gets me to another question, is, what kind of help do manufacturers need in making this happen, in making their place of work something where foreign-born workers can thrive?

[00:40:58] Wendy: When I talk about it, you’ve got to start with strategy. If you’re the hiring manager, you’re the shop floor manager, if you don’t have the buy-in from the senior executives to do this, it’s going to be really hard because then you’ll create the us-versus-them. You’ve got to have your corporate strategy along with your HR strategy aligned with your multilingual strategy.

Your corporate strategy has to say, “We’re going to open up the culture to make it welcoming, and we’re going to first focus on this language,” so everybody is in alignment and you’re there for it. You could even do some cultural diversity training to get people ready for that idea. That’s the first place you want to start. Then I talked about what are the different things across the stages that you need to make language accessible.

[00:41:50] Josh: That one comment that you made of having that conduit of the culture. It’s more than just translating the language, it’s making sure that people are communicating in all the different ways that we communicate, whether it is the body language, is a key factor in how a message is put out there or received.

You also mentioned that there is going to be a need for translation services of the content that you’re providing and that you have to make sure that whatever service you’re using is completely accurate. I’ve certainly butchered translations using Google Translate, and that’s not something that anyone can afford, especially when safety is paramount.

[00:42:36] Wendy: I want to talk about that, but I also want to go back to when you’re recruiting people. I mentioned the job fairs and translated the flyer with the QR code to go to the website, a lot of immigrants, depending on their language and culture, can go to churches or places of worship, or you can go to like Chinese schools or Russian math schools, or community centers, these are all places where people will congregate, and there is usually a community leader that has a lot of influence.

If you can find that person and explain to him or her what you’re looking for, they usually are well-connected say through whatever social media platform they’re having. Maybe it’s a big group of Brazilian people that happen to have a chat group on Facebook in that town, if you can post in places like that, that’s how you can get visibility to hire. You think a little bit more creatively about where these people hang out. They’re not going to be going to Indeed to look for a job.

Then you talk about quality. I own a foreign language translation interpretation company, and we have 100% guarantee on quality, and we focus on hiring people, many of them have advanced degrees, we do all human translation. Now that’s our niche. There are lots of different niches in the industry. There are some companies that have really mastered machine translation when there’s lots and lots of quantity of material.

You imagine a legal suit that’s across the world or across multiple languages, they could have a whole old-fashioned TalkRoom full of boxes of materials that need to be translated, a whole terabyte of information, and they may be looking for that one doc that has the information that they need. They can throw that through machine translation, get the gist of it, narrow it down into just what they want, and have that one document translated.

There are other ones that will use machine translation with human editing. You might save some cost, but it’s going to read very stilted and you’re not going to get the meaning across, but it may be okay if you have to document a lot of stuff. When you’re working with an agency, you do want to find somebody that has 100% human translation to get the high quality, you want to know how they’re screening the interpreters and how they’re doing it, and if they do linguistic matchmaking, which means they take the interpreter that worked on your materials before and they use that same person so you get the consistency of voice.

If we’re talking about dinner, the word dinner is used all the time, and the next person doesn’t come in and call it supper, because that could be confusing particularly if you’re in a precise manufacturing situation. Who you hire is very important. The same with interpreting. Bare, if you do get to the point where you have enough people and you have a supervisor that’s bilingual, that supervisor may be able to do additional training, help facilitate company updates, or announcements, or the parties coming out or something like that.

If you need to have a private, confidential meeting with an employee that doesn’t speak your language, you can either bring in a human interpreter, a live person to come facilitate, which we’ll do more for benefits meetings. You can also do videos on demand. You have an account and you call into the video company, you put in what language you want and somebody pops in, so they can be in the room facilitating with you. That’s a little bit more than calling your account on your telephone and putting them on speakerphone and having a conversation.

If it’s a conversation that you want to have multiple people on in Zoom and you’re in different locations, you can schedule to an interpreter come into Zoom and then have a conversation. There are so many ways to handle cross-lingual communication, that you really want to work with somebody that can help you figure out, “What are the best pieces to put together to be efficient in your communications, and what content can you reuse?”

If you think about your content from a strategic standpoint, you may be able to use some of the content that you use in training to go on your website or your tech sheets, and so then you’re not having to translate three things, you can use one translation in three different areas. A lot of information at you. [laughs]

[00:47:21] Josh: Absolutely. That’s what the purpose of this conversation is for. It’s to understand from the experts, how to tackle a particular opportunity or problem so that a thorough breakdown of what to look for and who can help I think is perfect. I know we’re just about at our time, I’d love to hear about how our listeners could learn more about the topics that we covered today, or more about Rapport International.

[00:47:48] Wendy: You can find us at On our website, if you go to the resource, we’ve got a whole bunch of material up there talking about translation. You can go in there and you can search for videos, blogs, landing pages, or vlogs, and then put in the topic that you’re searching for, and it’ll come up with a lot of information.

You can also go listen to the podcast to learn more of about global marketing, which HR communications have a lot of overlap with marketing. It’s all about communication, so listening to some of the suggestions that people have had and how they communicate through their global marketing. Then there is always also a free consult button there, so you can go to schedule a time to meet with me or somebody from my staff to talk about your particular situation.

If you’re on social media, we post fun stuff all the time about words that have no translation. One of my favorites is [the Finnish language]. It’s a Finnish word that has no direct meaning in English. Any idea what it means?

[00:49:02] Josh: I have no idea.

[00:49:05] Wendy: It’s a perfect word for COVID. It means I’m drunk, I’m at home, I’m in my underwear, and there’s no chance of me going out. [laughs]

[00:49:16] Josh: Oh my goodness.

[00:49:19] Wendy: It’s actually a word that means that.


[00:49:21] Josh: That’s such a great word.

[00:49:23] Wendy:  [laughs]

[00:49:28] Josh: Speaking of words, there was one that I learned in French and I’m going to butcher this as well because it’s been a long since I’ve used my French skill, but it’s l’esprit de l’escalier, I think, which translates to the spirit of the staircase. Any idea what that means?

[00:49:46] Wendy: No, I don’t. I speak some French.

[00:49:51] Josh: Again, I may have butchered it, but it’s that feeling that you get when you leave a room or a situation, and you have that moment of, “I should have said this.” Like, “That’s what I should have said.” I can totally relate to that where you just leave and you’re like, “Oh, I just thought of that perfect comment to make in response to whatever somebody just said.”

[00:50:14] Wendy: Oh, that’s fantastic. We’ll have to use that. On social media, we’ll put videos or we’ll put stuff out on stuff like this all the time. If you like it or you want to hear funny Google translations or want to learn about cultures, you can follow me on LinkedIn Wendy Pease, P-E-A-S-E, or Facebook or Twitter. We’re starting to do more on Instagram. We’ll put it out on all that. Whatever your favorite platform is.

[00:50:42] Josh: That’s great. Wendy, I certainly appreciate your time and walking us through how manufacturers can appeal to foreign-born communities that are around locally. I certainly appreciate the stories you shared and the strategies you’ve provided.

[00:50:56] Wendy: Oh, thank you so much. It’s been such a joy to talk with you. Again, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see that Parsable actually has your platform translated into so many languages. I think that’s a first step for companies to start being safe. [laughs].

[00:51:12] Josh: I agree. all right. Thank you so much.

[00:51:15] Wendy: All right. Bye-bye.


[00:51:23] Walter: Hi, y’all, it’s Walter. I’m another producer for Conquering Chaos. Before you go, if you’re not ready to try Parsable to help you get rid of paper, why not watch a quick video instead? Check the show notes for a link to a demonstration Josh put together to show frontline workers, what it’s like to use a dynamic digital experience to get work done. In it, Josh shows you how using a modern-day app enables you to connect to people, information, systems, and machines just like the apps you use in your personal lives. Take a look and let us know what you think.


[00:51:58] Josh: That’s the show. Thank you so, so much for joining us today. Conquering Chaos is brought to you by Parsable. If you’re a fan of these conversations, subscribe to the show and leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts. Just tap the number of stars you think the show deserves. As always, feel free to share what’s top of mind for you and who you think we should talk to next. Until then, talk soon. Take care, stay safe, and bye-bye.




Listen to find out how we can embrace foreign-born communities in Manufacturing