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We need to lean on each other

How should I relate to my workplace and Danish colleagues? NIM, the network for international members of Finansforbundet, hopes to help its members. NIM’s first physical meeting offered a lecture on Danish work culture and “human bingo”

1. Oct 2021
3 min
Af Berit Villadsen
bv@finansforbundet.dk

How does the Danish tax system work? Can I get a maternity leave and how do I get my South African driver’s license converted to a Danish one?

It can be difficult to navigate the Danish labour market when you come from abroad. That is why it is good to have an international network you can lean on, says Rachel Browning and Kalina Guldberg, who are both part of the steering group for NIM, Network of International Members in Finansforbundet.

“As an expat (posted), there are many things that we DON’T know that we DON’T know. We do not know if there is a rule or law that can help us with a particular problem. This is where Finansforbundet can help us find out about work-related things that Danes take for granted, such as navigating the Danish tax system”, says 36-year-old Rachel Browning, Customer Manager in Nasdaq Copenhagen, also known as Københavns Fondsbørs.

“We need help to understand the value of a trade union. Finansforbundet has many good things to offer us, but we have to be introduced to that knowledge”, says 32-year-old Kalina Guldberg, Project Manager in Group Compliance at Danske Bank.

Danish humour is strange

NIM was formed in 2020 and is partly run by voluntary expats and Finansforbundet. Due to COVID-19, the network has only recently held its first physical meeting. 50 international members met at Finansforbundet on 8 September for a kick-off event, where they met like-minded people from all over the world.

“There was a wonderful energy. People were engaged. It was really nice to talk to others, hear about their lives and careers and feel like I am not the only one who thinks that Danish humour is sometimes strange”, says Rachel Browning, who is from South Africa, but has lived in Denmark for the last four years with her Danish husband.

The participants listened to a lecture by Kay Mellish on Danish work culture and participated in “human bingo”, a game where the participants had to ask about each other’s lives and find a partner they matched with. For example, it could be that they had both bought a dog during the lockdown.
After the meeting, several people chose to go on to a pub, to the delight of the organisers, who took it as a sign of a successful event.

“We want to connect people with each other and be the place where people socialise professionally. We want to help the members inspire each other, share events and positive experiences that can create job satisfaction, joy and a positive working environment for other international colleagues”, says Kalina Guldberg, who is from Bulgaria but is married to a Dane and has lived in Denmark for the past seven years.

We need to inspire each other

According to the two women, one of the fundamental challenges for NIM is that many expats come from countries where there is no strong union culture. Trade unions are not typically a natural part of the mindset of international employees, and therefore not an organisation they consider contacting if they encounter problems in the labour market.

Rachel Browning and Kalina Guldberg hope that the international network can help change that perception. They both feel privileged to have a place where they can meet like-minded people and get professional help from Finansforbundet to navigate the Danish labour market and the prejudices and challenges they inevitably face as an expat.

“I really hope we can get the format right so that we can continue the conversations and build on the network so that in the future we can lean on each other’s adventures and experiences in the network. The more we understand our common concerns and struggles, the better we can deal with them”, says Rachel Browning.