The Case For A Common Language At CallHub

Last Updated May 23, 2024

“But Augustus, do you not think imposing one language in office contradicts your values of inclusivity and diversity? Why are you introducing a rule that stifles free expression, choice, and individual differences?”

This is the burning question I get asked every time the common corporate language rule is brought up at CallHub. And it is time we address this in detail.

CallHub began with the idea of bringing people together and creating a workspace that everyone enjoys.

At CallHub, we celebrate diversity in all forms—diversity of backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and ideas. It’s one of our greatest strengths, allowing us to approach problems from multiple angles and devise innovative solutions.

However, for a diverse workforce to truly thrive and collaborate effectively, we need a strong common foundation, a shared culture, and a shared mission towards which we all work. A key part of building that cohesive culture is having a common language, which in CallHub’s case is English, to allow seamless communication across teams and levels.

Before we get into my reasons, let’s understand the diverse languages that co-exist at CallHub.

What we speak at CallHub

We collectively speak 20 different global and local languages at CallHub! We’re lucky to have a diverse team that brings a variety of perspectives, life experiences, thought processes, and ideas to the table.

Languages spoken at CallHub

EnglishHindiKannadaSindhi
TuluKonkaniTamilPunjabi
TeluguBundelkhandiHaryanviGujarati
MarwadiSpanishFrenchMalayalam
OdiaBengaliMarathiUrdu
callhub-language-policy-linguistic-diversity-statistics

However, while most people are multilingual, not everyone speaks or understands the same set of languages. And this is where the conundrum begins.

The case for a common language

Rules exist when nuance is lost.

This is a belief I carry with me whenever I mandate anything at the workplace. 

The problem isn’t using multiple languages. The problem is using native languages as a bonding exercise, creating favoritism and cliques in the office.

It is easy to like someone who seems more familiar to you. Nothing screams familiarity like speaking the same mother tongue. So what about team members who don’t share this commonality with you? 

I have grappled with questions like, “What if a team member feels alienated when people transition (often unconsciously) from one language to another?”

While diversity is one of CallHub’s values, so are inclusivity, kindness, transparency, and standing up against prejudice of any kind—whether it is gender, race, orientation, or language.

To me, a common language is a non-negotiable. I cannot sacrifice it at the altar of unfettered diversity without a unifying foundation. I cannot promote exclusion in the name of absolute self-expression.

Yes, there is nuance. If everyone present understands a shared language, definitely use it to facilitate smoother communication. And we must support those still gaining full English proficiency to voice their opinions comfortably.

But when language becomes a barrier to inclusivity, equal opportunities, and psychological safety, drawing lines in the sand is necessary. That’s why English will be our official language for operational contexts, keeping everyone on equal footing.

Of course, this policy doesn’t mean we want to suppress other languages or discourage their use in appropriate settings. We celebrate and honor every team member’s native tongue as part of what makes our culture richer.

But when it comes to operating as a high-performing team, we’re choosing to unite around a common language, English. One that will keep our global teams aligned, connected, and marching together towards our mission.