September 2, 2020

Understanding the Experience of Women Immigrants, with Dr. Fiona Citkin

Episode 59:

Born and raised in Ukraine, professional diversiculturalist Dr. Fiona Citkin came to the US as a Fulbright Scholar studying languages and cultures at Kent State University, OH.

Fiona’s first book was on language/translation (Terminology and Translation, Lviv, Vischa Shkola, 1988, in Russian) and it brought her recognition in European academia.

For the book “Transformational Diversity: Why and How Intercultural Competencies Can Help Organizations to Survive and Thrive” (SHRM Publishing, 2011), Fiona has been recognized as a Top 2012 Champion of Diversity by, a think-tank. This book was a seminal stepping stone for further exploration of the diverse American culture and the real-world ways to instill inclusion.

Fiona’s new book, “How They Made It in America”, started with a desire to explore how diverse talented individuals make it big in America. She focused on prominent women immigrants as the book subjects—just because she knew from her own experiences that women face frequent tribulations on their way to success. The topic appeared so rich that it soon became clear she’ll need to write a book series to at least solidly scratch it.

Since April 2013, Fiona’s monthly Huffington Post column explores the issues of multicultural women and what it takes to make it in America: It was Arianna Huffington (an immigrant from Greece) who invited Fiona to blog there, build the future readership, and see how the public responds to the issues covered. And Arianna’s insights made her a perfect role model for Fiona.

With experience as Director of Berlitz, FGI, and a personal consulting portfolio with major corporations, Fiona accumulated skills in public speaking, marketing, coaching, training, magazine and TV interviews, entrepreneurship, and of course, intercultural communication and languages.

Fiona speaks three languages: English, Russian, and Ukrainian. After living and working in Europe (Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Austria, Great Britain, and Switzerland) she now resides in Warren, NJ, USA, and can be reached at [email protected].

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Fiona first came to the United States under a Fulbright scholarship 25 years ago, and how her unique perspective as a female immigrant has informed her work
  • How Fiona transitioned from teaching in Ukraine to becoming a consultant in the United States, and how her career took a “downgrade” when she immigrated
  • How women immigrants often have to start over regardless of their professional background in their nations of origin
  • How immigrant men and women share common challenges like language barriers, and how women experience additional challenges like sexual harassment and the glass ceiling
  • Fiona shares her advice for practitioners looking to create a more welcoming, inclusive and equitable workplace for immigrant employees
  • What important topics and lessons Fiona discussed in her book, and how human resources professionals can help strengthen a diverse, inclusive and equitable environment
  • Why offering new skills to immigrant employees is only the first step, and why creating a safe and welcoming environment is the other critical part of the equation
  • Why having an exit strategy is vital, and why understanding the immigrant experience during these difficult times is critical
  • Fiona shares her perspective on the growing sense of nationalism and hostility toward immigrants, both in the United States and globally
  • What wisdom Fiona would share for new immigrants before they enter the workplace in their new home country

Additional resources: