My good friend Laura is trying to decide between two jobs. One is for a major local Lebanese business and the other is for its international competitor. The local one pays slightly better, but she’s considering going with the multinational, even though she’ll also get stuck in major traffic. She feels as though she’d be in “better hands” with the multinational. I think not.
Everybody knows that Lebanon has its own special way of conducting business: Unprofessional.
Yup, not many people here give a damn about how rude they come off to others in the workplace, they don’t measure the intensity of the words they use, the manner in which they carry themselves and their abuse of power. That I know. That’s why, if given the choice between a multinational versus a local firm, most would pick the multinational naturally- assuming that there would be more accountability to such behavior. Even if the benefits were identical.
Why? First because it sounds more sexy. This town LOVES sexy. Also hoping that the multinational would adhere to higher standards of business place conduct. *Think mustached local angry boss throwing a fit at underpaid employee.*
But we’re wrong. Here’s why:
For some reason that is beyond me, top international brands and companies instantly become “Lebanonized” the minute they set foot on this land, by that I mean “typical Lebanese” in the manner in which they choose to conduct themselves. Suddenly the expat boss who used take the subway in freezing temperatures back home will need the company car to drive him from his desk to the washroom. He or she would probably also make their overqualified employees order their food because of the “language barrier.” They would refer to you and “your people” in every culturally insensitive way possible and talk shit about how corrupt the country is yet while calling in for a “wasta” every chance they get.
Employees will address other fellow Lebanese working at local institutions with a superior tone simply because they work for a firm that has headquarters in a country with actual traffic laws. They would backstabb each other at every chance they got and would have no problem grocery shopping for their boss’s wife. And what about emails? Would this mean that most of them would drop the acronyms ASAP and FYI from their professional emails and loose the excessive use of upper-case letters, explanation marks and smiley faces? I think not.
So don’t be fooled by the foreign boss or the picture-perfect offices, as long as the address spells Lebanon, you’re in for one heck of a ride.