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Adapting to a Global Economy

"Global" is the catch-word of Lisbeth Claus' life, from her childhood in Belgium to her role as a top global human resources expert.

Claus, professor of global human resources at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, spends about 200 days of the year on the road.

When your expertise lies in training human resources managers how to work within an international environment, it's often necessary to hop on planes to places as far away as China, Israel or Nigeria.

"Companies can no longer just be domestic," Claus says. "Everything is about globalization."

When Employees Go Abroad

As companies increasingly send their employees on international assignments and business trips, they may wonder what types of risks those employees face and how to protect them.

For her latest project, Claus is touring the world to present a white paper she researched and published during her sabbatical leave titled "Duty of Care of Employers for Protecting International Assignees, their Dependents and International Business Travelers."

Claus' paper provides businesses with practical advice in meeting their "duty of care," or obligation to protect employees from risks.

"Managers who fail to pay attention to employer's duty of care responsibilities, especially for their employees crossing borders, are failing in their commercial, fiduciary, legal and moral responsibilities as managers," Claus says.

The paper was released by International SOS, a world provider of international health care, medical assistance and security services.

Claus' advice is in high demand - she already has toured the U.S. to present her findings, and next she will head to Paris, Amsterdam, London, Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Toronto.

Her white paper was translated into French, and she was interviewed by two leading French magazines, as well as HR Magazine.

Back at home, Claus is working with a team of Willamette MBA for Professionals students who are reviewing duty of care in the collegiate market for universities that are establishing campuses abroad.

Training Managers

Claus previously spent 15 years coordinating the development of learning materials for people seeking GPHR (Global Professional in Human Resources) certification.

The certification is geared toward human resources professionals working in multiple countries, whether they are recruiting employees from abroad or working for a company that has locations throughout the world.

Each country has its own laws and customs regarding hiring practices. "You can't expect someone in Salem to know the laws in Belgium for hiring," Claus says.

Helping Countries Develop

Claus also acts as a mentor to countries that don't yet have well-developed human resources programs, to help them join the international market.

She helped develop professional HR organizations in Israel and Romania, and she often volunteers as a keynote speaker at events in those countries.

"The world has changed so rapidly that people now realize this is something they need to do," she says. "They are dealing with the fact that business is now global."