A retail branch of The Body Shop in Cambridge surprised 18 year old beauty student Zoe Churchman when it denied her application for a part-time job because of her inability to speak Chinese, the BBC reports.
Churchman dropped her resume off at the local store when a manager told her speaking Chinese was required because, “all our customers are Chinese students.” She later voiced her disappointment: “I never thought I would have to learn Mandarin to get a job selling beauty products in England.”
Churchman’s father even took a stab at the British government. “It’s ridiculous. It’s another example of Britain bending over backwards to accommodate everyone else.” [Ed.: The Daily Mail reporter sent to interview him was probably admonished later for failing to get him to say “It’s political correctness gone mad!”]
While The Body Shop later apologized to Churchman and offered to discuss recruitment with her, this intriguing event may hint at a greater trend. With China’s rise to economic dominance, and rich Chinese bringing wealth abroad, comprehension of Chinese language and culture is increasingly important for businesses. China is now the world’s second largest economy, and has the second most billionaires after the US, according to Forbes.
While knowing a bare minimum of English is commonplace in urban centers of China-one need only step outside the Science and Technology Museum in Shanghai to be attacked by salesmen yelling “watches” in broken English-the same cannot be said for Britain or the United States, whose native populations have obstinately put off learning foreign languages for centuries. Now, it seems change is coming.
[Image credit: @qiaomeng]