Are Your Papers in Order?

Revlon Products, the New York-based cosmetics giant, is expanding its international reach into nearly 200 countries. Revlon’s global strategy isn’t high gloss. Pursuing a cost-cutting initiative, the global-savvy company launched call centers in India last September.

Revlon executives tapped 43 trainers and other personnel to fly to Mumbai and New Delhi to brief the new team on corporate culture and processes. Can you guess how many of these 43 Revlon workers owned a passport?

• None
• One
• Seven
• Thirty-three

Let’s just say that after Revlon’s request, there was a very long line at the local post office.

No doubt this came as a bit of a surprise to company officials. In my view, this ill-preparedness isn’t alarming, but it is telling. Could you find 43 EU citizens without a passport? Sadly, the typical American lacks both global travel experience and exposure to global business. A web search on the number of Americans with passports proved inconclusive – recent estimates are about one in four.

I wouldn’t equate obtaining a passport with becoming bilingual or studying international business, but it is an easy first step for anyone planning to participate in the global economy.