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What does Google reveal about businesspeople worldwide?

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Our favourite search engine exposes our prejudices.

To find information about anything and everything, Google is the first place most of us head to. The ubiquitous search engine has an autofill feature designed to uncover what people are searching for most often.  Fascinatingly, it can also reveal what people worldwide think about South African businesspeople, and indeed about businesspeople in other countries and continents as a whole. The prejudices exposed make for an eye-opening read.

 

How did we carry out the experiment?

  1. In the Google search box, we wrote the sentence “Why are South African businesspeople so …..?” We collected all the descriptions that the autofill feature churned out.
  2. We then did the same for other countries, continents and regions. So “Why are French businesspeople so…?”, “Why are European businesspeople so …?”, “Why are Eastern businesspeople so…?”, and so on.
  3. Where there were no autofill results for that country’s business people, we substituted “businesspeople” with “businessmen” or “businesswomen”.
  4. We also tried replacing the adjectives French, South African, Asian, etc. with the country names, so “Why are France businesspeople so…”, “Why are South Africa businesspeople so…”, “Why are Asia business people so…”, and so on.

 

Here are the fascinating results that emerged for businessmen around the globe:

  1. South African (or South Africa) businessmen are … pretty, beautiful, weak, expensive, rude
    Why are south african businessmen so - autofill screenshot2- 1may14Why are south african businessmen so - autofill screenshot 1may14
  2. American (or America) businessmen are … tall, loud, proud, spoiled, religious, fat, rich, powerful
    Why are american businessmen so - autofill screenshot 2-1May14Why are american businessmen so -autofill screenshot 1may14
  3. Australian (and Australia) businessmen are … bad at cricket, bad at the Olympics, good at sport, good at cricket
  4. Egyptian (and Egypt) businessmen are …. jealous, important, beautiful, controlling, expensive, hot, poor, important to Great Britain
  5. Nigerian (and Nigeria) businessmen are …. strict, aggressive, pretty, rude
  6. Kenyan (and Kenya) businessmen are …. good, fast, thin, skinny, low
  7. Zimbabwean (and Zimbabwe) businessmen are … poor, high, poor yahoo, important
  8. Ethiopian (and Ethiopia) businessmen are …  beautiful, good, pretty, fast
  9. Arabian businessmen are … popular, expensive, beautiful, fast (I suspect the people searching for “Fast” may have been looking for Arabian horses, rather than businessmen).
    Why are Arabian businessmen so - autofill screenshot 1may14
  10. Saudi Arabian (and Saudi Arabia) businessmen are … rich, strict, backwards, hot
  11. Canadian (and Canada) businessmen are … mean, good at hockey, expensive, pretty, high
  12. Moroccan (and Morocco) businessmen are … beautiful, expensive, good, different, poor, cheap, popular
  13. German (and Germany) businessmen are … smart, cold, loyal, long, strong, skinny, good at football, rich, good, successful
  14. Irish (and Ireland) businessmen are … pale, tough, angry, thick, good at boxing, expensive, cold
  15. Scottish (and Scotland) businessmen are … tough, rude, friendly, angry, bad at football, bad at rugby, bad at sport, cold
  16. British (and Britain) businessmen are … rude, good at music, sarcastic, polite, good at cycling, good at track cycling, bad at tennis, good at rowing
  17. Italian (and Italy) businessmen are … beautiful, attractive, flirty, thin, good at fencing, expensive, racist
  18. New Zealand businessmen are … good at rugby, ugly, blue, cold
  19. Greek (and Greece) businessmen are … important, beautiful, rude, hot, poor, much debt, expensive
  20. Indian (and India) businessmen are … smart, beautiful, rude, attractive, bad at the Olympics, bad at sport, good at cricket, poor
  21. Chinese (and China) businessmen are … rude, smart, skinny, rich, good at the Olympics, good at table tennis, good at sport. Chinese businesspeople are … good at business
  22. Japanese (and Japan) businessmen are … weird, thin, polite, short, technologically advanced, rich
  23. Russian (and Russia) businessmen are … strong, beautiful, mean, good at chess, racist, rich, bad at the Olympics
  24. Brazilian (or Brazil) businessmen are … good at football, good at soccer, good, good for you (yes, that last one was copied down correctly!)
    Why are Brazil businessmen so -autofill screenshot 1may14
  25. Mexican (and Mexico) businessmen are … expensive, violent, poor
  26. Colombian (and Colombia) businessmen are … beautiful, hot, fake, jealous, high
  27. Israeli (and Israel) businessmen are … beautiful, hot, pretty, difficult, powerful, evil, close, important to us
  28. French (or France) businessmen are … rude, skinny, expensive, proud, high, dirty, cheap
  29. Dutch (or Netherlands or Holland) businessmen are … tall, big, tolerant, pretty, good at football, expensive, liberal, flat, densely populated (yes, those last two were copied down correctly!) #
  30. Spanish (or Spain) businessmen are … good at football, good at sport, good, good at basketball, rude, pretty, loud
  31. European (or Europe) businessmen are … beautiful, attractive, small, feminine, expensive, high, cold
  32. African (or Africa) businessmen are … good at running, fast, strong, ugly, poor, violent, hot, underdeveloped
  33. Asian (or Asia) businessmen are … short, rude, good at everything, cheap, populated, expensive, skinny
  34. Eastern businessmen are … racist, strong, rude, ugly
  35. Western businessmen are … big, shallow, manly, tall


Clearly, for many countries, people’s prejudices about its businessmen mirror their prejudices about that country’s people, whether they be business people or not. For example, do people honestly think Kenya’s businessmen are fast, or are they thinking about their athletes?

These biases are also very similar to what people think about that country as a place. For example “Dutch (or Netherlands or Holland) businessmen are so … densely populated, flat, expensive” were real autofill results as you can see from the screengrabs below! #

Why are Holland businessmen so -autofill screenshot 1May14Why are Dutch businessmen so - autofill screenshot 1may14Why are Netherlands businessmen so -autofill screenshot 1May14

Interestingly, no autofill results emerged for “businesswomen” for any country, continent or region. This means no-one is searching for this term by country. Out of all the ones we tested, China was the only country which had autofill results for “businesspeople”.  Every other country we Googled had autofill results for “businessmen” only. This speaks volumes about our prejudices when it comes to men in business as versus women in business.

All in all, this is an eye-opening exercise to uncover just how deeply our prejudices are entrenched when it comes to business in other cultures. Try it and see!


Note: the opinions expressed by Google’s autofills and its users worldwide are definitely NOT the opinions of the author!

* Thanks to Braintainment for this idea behind this experiment.

# strictly speaking, Netherlands and Holland are not the same. Netherlands is a country, while Holland is not. Holland is a region comprising two of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. However, the misconception that they are the same is very common, so we used the two interchangeably in this experiment.

 

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Author: Colette Symanowitz

Managing Director of www.BeatingBullies.com and www.MBAconnect.net. Passionate about entrepreneurship, personal branding and networking. I also tweet under @mbaconnect_net and @Beating_Bullies

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