Today's global economy demands that senior executives know more about culture and business abroad -- especially language.
According to Los Angeles-based Korn/Ferry International's quarterly Executive Recruiter Index, the ability to speak more than one language is critical to succeed in business in Europe, Asia/Pacific and Latin America.
Indeed, nearly 85% of recruiters in Europe, 88% of recruiters in Asia and 95% of recruiters in Latin America either "strongly agreed" or "somewhat agreed" that being at least bilingual is critical to succeed in today's business environment. Among recruiters in North America, that percentage was just 34%.
In terms of which foreign-language capabilities are in demand by employers, recruiters in Asia, Europe and Latin America overwhelmingly chose English (88%). Recruiters in North America selected Spanish (79%), French (43%) and Mandarin Chinese (30%).
"These findings suggest that although English remains the dominant language of international business, multilingual executives clearly have a competitive advantage," says Paul C. Reilly, chairman and CEO of Korn/Ferry International. "This will only increase with the continued globalization of commerce and the growing power and presence of emerging nations."
The Executive Recruiter Index was based on a quarterly survey of 185 Korn/Ferry International consultants.