Danes told to readdress their 'icy ways'
An interesting debate got underway in Denmark at an event looking at how the Scandinavian country is perceived in its treatment of expats.
Held at the Dansk Design Centre, participants were told that Danish people need to change their so-called “icy ways” if they want to keep hold of talented expats, as well as attract more professionals from around the world.
One of the attendees, journalist Martin Krasnik, told the Copenhagen Post that Danes really need to take a hard look at themselves and be more genial towards international movers.
“It’s not enough to simply point the accusing finger at foreigners and say it’s them that need to change, not us,” he said.
Tine Horwitz, the head of the Consortium for Global Talent, shared Mr Krasnik’s views, adding that skilled workers shouldn’t be perceived as a threat to Danish jobs. If anything, they help to create more opportunities, she added.
Anne Knudsen, editor-in-chief at Weekendavisen, proposed an alternative theory as to why Denmark isn’t as successful as other countries in attracting expats or keeping hold of them.
She said that it is less to do with the hackneyed image of Danes being detached and unapproachable and more to do with the country’s culture of structure.
“The Danish workplace is a quiet one. People get on with their job and try not to disturb anyone,” Ms Knudsen was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
“Then when the clock strikes five, we Danes get up and go home. Foreigners may see this as impersonal, but we see it as natural.”
A report produced by Worktrotter, an online portal for Danish expats, in December 2010 went some way to explain why this may be the case. Revealingly entitled An expat perspective: Are Danes open to foreigners living in Denmark? the study noted that Danish people are, in general, keen to preserve their heritage.
The prevalence of this concept of a homogenous society, its author Dagmar Fink stated, is embedded in the idea that Danes would like to keep things as they are because it has worked well for so long.
“However, in order for Denmark to play a role on a global scale, changes are required, as is a different mindset towards foreigners. With a shortage of skills and workforce, foreign workers are needed,” she wrote.
“People coming from different cultures can influence Danish life, but this should not just be seen as a threat or a negative. It can also be seen as enriching the society as well.”