Meeting Roche: Constructing a Global Identity Online – by Isabella MargjiniPharma/Health
In this blogpost I examine how Roche – a multinational healthcare company, located in the heart of Basel – uses their website to construct a global identity by using English employee narratives.
Even though the company is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, it has several branches all over the world. Its multinational status means that the company has a large number of international employees, some of which are introduced on a dedicated site on at their global website. This presents the company as international and yet as approachable as we get to know the people behind the organisation. The short staff interviews are meant to give an impression about what it is like to be an international working for Roche in Switzerland and this post will examine 3 interviews in order to explore Roches self-presentation (by way of its employees) as an international company.
The three employees that were interviewed have quite different backgrounds. The first employee is Daniela from Milan, Italy. The second is Niklas, who studies at a University in Münster, Germany. The third employee is Edward, who was born and raised in Shanghai, China. The webpage does not provide further information about the circumstances of the interviews, therefore I am assuming that the questionnaires were either written or spoken in English and were not translated into English.
What all three of them have in common is their move from their hometown to Switzerland. Therefore, all three of them use English as a Lingua Franca to be able to talk to their colleagues. Daniela mentions that the company took care of every step of her relocation and explains that they have a variety of useful services for the employees. Looking at Roche as a multinational company, Daniela states that it encourages their employees to network and collaborate with colleagues. She further underlines the very international working environment because of the employees from all over the world. Daniela emphasis that working for Roche is an exciting and enriching work experience.
Niklas, who is part of a students program, describes his work at Roche as a chance to develop due to the contact with all kinds of different and engaged colleagues. He stresses that at Roche, you are seen as an equal in a very-well organised network, which makes it easy to meet new friends. Furthermore, he mentions that his job offers the opportunity to gain cross-functional insights. Edward, who works in Basel as part of a rotation, is grateful for the company’s supportive and caring character. He says that Roche “cares about its people“ and ensured smooth transitions into working from home during the Covid-pandemic.
While looking at the written interviews, there are no indications for the level of their English proficiency. English is also not discussed explicitly – rather it is taken for granted. As the interviews are published on the official global website of the company, I assume that the interviews were checked for spelling mistakes to ensure a smooth reading for those interested. Also, this indicates professionalism and order. Still, it would have been interesting to have these interviews uploaded as video material to their webpage as it would provide a closer and more personal insight to the employees backgrounds, language skills and English usage.
In his paper English in the Workplace of Switzerland between Ideologies and Practices, Lüdi states that “English is increasingly important in the Swiss business world, but rather in addition than instead of other languages“ (2016, 73). This also seems to match the company’s appearance on their website as they have almost the same materials and interviews conducted in German in their German website’s branch. When looking at the interviews and the website, it becomes clear that the workplace communication relies heavily on English as a Lingua Franca.
To sum this up, Roche constructs their identity through their employees and them talking about their work experiences in Basel at this multinational company. Unsurprisingly, all three of them appreciate Roche as an employer and emphasis, in particular, the promising encounters with colleagues from different backgrounds from all over the world. English as a language is used as a base for sharing not only work experiences, but also connecting, building a network and experiencing, even in their private life. These narratives create the impression of both a large global/international company, but also one that is inclusive, friendly, people-oriented and close-knitt – a seemingly perfect blend between the global and the local.
By Isabella Margjini
Lüdi, Georges. (2016). English in the Workplace of Switzerland between Ideologies and Practices. Basel: University of Basel.