Most of the top and mid-level jobs of multinational companies (MNCs) in Bangladesh go to foreigners, though the locals do otherwise have all the required qualifications for such posts, sources said.
Though some MNCs operating in the country are recruiting locals in such positions, their number is still very low, they said.
Despite this, the locals in a number of cases have been making their way to the top and mid-level MNC positions, thanks to their overseas education and job experiences with such companies in a situation where large domestic business conglomerates are putting now a great focus than before, on their human resource development, the sources said.
But the number of local employees holding such MNC positions is yet not that high, though this has witnessed a rise, to some extent, during the last one decade, they added.
To keep up with the global trend, the local corporate houses are focusing on human resource development. A pool of talented executives has, thus, been created. They are capable of working in any of the big global companies in or outside the country, the sources said.
A chief executive officer (CEO) of an MNC said currently more than 100 foreigners are holding the CEO positions and several hundred others, the mid-level ones in such companies operating in Bangladesh.
He said there are some cases of violation of the Board of Investment (BoI) guidelines about recruiting foreign nationals in those positions.
The BoI guidelines say: "Bangladeshi nationals will be given priority or preference in employment for local industries/commercial enterprises as well as industrial/commercial enterprises established with foreign capital."
"In case of top management positions of a commercial enterprise or an educational institution, the ratios of locals to foreigners should not exceed 5:1 and 10:1 respectively," the guidelines state.
"But this provision can be relaxed depending on the situations, if there is enough justification for it. Investors, however, will not be bound by this constraint", the BoI notes.
Currently, though most of the MNCs follow the BoI guidelines, most of the top- and mid-level positions go to the foreigners, another MNC source said.
A retired CEO who worked for an MNC said though the companies do have their own business policies, the local talent in many cases is ignored for placement in the top-level positions.
Professor GM Chowdhury, director of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) under the University of Dhaka, said: "We do have highly qualified people in some areas."
"We do have a lot of skilled manpower. If the MNCs change their policies and mindset, our people can also get the top jobs in more foreign companies", he added.
Bangladesh Society for Human Resource Management (BSHRM) President Mosharraf Hossain said: "A good number of local people are working in different foreign and multinational companies and they are acquiring skills required to hold the top positions".
He said: "Already a good number of talented Bangladeshis are working in top positions outside and within the country. There are also many who have been serving in different MNCs over the years."
Mr. Mosharraf said the MNCs, including those operating in the areas of telecommunications, logistics, power, industries and financial institutions, can recruit more personnel in responsible positions from the pool of the local talent.
He said though family members' dominance in the local conglomerates still exists, things are changing. Some of the leading companies have already made advancements in promoting skills about embedding good corporate culture, corporate social responsibility, management, training and human resource development in their organisations.
However, the top- and mid-ranking foreign recruits are enjoying more facilities than the locals, an executive in a foreign company said.
He said despite having the same level of qualifications and even more skill, the local people are being paid less than the foreigners.
Mr Mahbub Jamil, former managing director of the Singer Bangladesh Limited, said: "Our first generation businesspeople were not properly oriented towards corporate culture and the high level of working conditions in the MNCs."
"But the things are changing as the second generation businesspeople are more educated," he added.
The second generation businessmen have a better understanding of the corporate-level management and such management personnel are now capable of working in the business environment in any big foreign company, he observed.
He said: "Our businesses have flourished a lot over the last 20 years. It will still take some time to create a substantial pool of local people who will be able to work in the business environment of foreign companies."
About the top positions held by locals in MNCs, he said every multinational company does have its own policies. But such companies try their best to adapt themselves to the environment where they invest their money, he added.
Dept. of Business Administration