I had a Taiwanese boss in one of my first major career-jobs after university. In fact, he was the principal owner of the College, so a heavy-weight! Our Marketing Director was from Hong Kong, if I recall. Reporting to him were some strong personalities from South America, Korea and Japan (strong in a quiet way). Our heads of faculty were a German immigrant and another from Lebanon. The Director of Finance was from Taiwan. And of those of us who were caucasian, I was pretty much the only one who had not lived overseas for a few years and didn’t speak a second language.
I learned something invaluable straightaway and that was this: there isn’t one particularly right praxis of business. We all bring our cultures with us to our jobs. There are as many ways to accomplish a given end (not to mention, decide which “end” was worth pursuing) as there were cultures. Of necessity, I had to learn to let go of some of my notions of what the “right” way to do business was. This diversity on the workplace – and not mere tokenism, either – resulted in an incredibly rich, vibrant work experience for all of us.
The Banking Industry is emerging as a leader in adjusting itself in how it does business, in order to include other cultures. Specifically, Islamic Finance has a toehold and is growing rapidly.
Ron Robins just wrote an article on the topic:
A proposed new mosque near Ground Zero in New York may symbolise a new berthing for Islamic ideals—and finance—in the heart of arguably the world’s most important financial centre. Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City and majority owner of Bloomberg L.P., the global media colossus, is an adamant supporter of the mosque. And with his media company in the forefront of global Islamic finance reporting, he just might be a champion of Islamic finance too.
Islamic finance is spreading around the world. Governments realising its potential for profits and jobs are duelling with each other to create the best regulatory and supportive framework for it. Western money centres with growing participation in Islamic finance include London, New York City, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, and Toronto. Islamic financial activities in these centres usually encompass the licensing of Islamic banks and offering of Shariah-compliant financial products that include bank accounts, home loans, and bonds.
More interestingly, here’s what it may hold out for us:
In some respects, Mayor Bloomberg of New York and his media empire’s global coverage of Islamic finance are reflective of a rising consciousness in the world of finance. In a financial world where greed has run amok and deceit and dishonesty is commonplace, the morality and ethical basis of Islamic finance may have much to offer. That is being realised as countries, East and West, North and South, Muslim and non-Muslim, compete to adopt and integrate Islamic finance into their own financial systems.