“Companies with inclusive talent practices in hiring, promoting, development, leadership and team management generate up to 30% higher revenue per employee and greater profitability than competitors”
(Garr, Attamanik & Malloy High-impact Talent Management)
Global mobility and gender diversity: what’s the issue?
As boards grow to recognize the power of diversity, many companies have either introduced a diversity and inclusion strategy or are looking to implement one in the near future. 64% of CEOs globally confirm they now have a diversity strategy with a further 13% indicating they are planning to adopt one over the next 12 months (A market place without boundaries? Responding to disruption. 18th Annual Global CEO Survey PwC 2015). (See bottom of article for details of all sources cited).
However, gender diversity is not reflected in globally mobile employee populations, suggesting a fundamental mismatch between employers’ diversity objectives, and their global mobility programmes. A recent survey of German DAX companies found that women make up 40% of global workforce but only 15-25% of international assignees are women (Dynamic of Difference Gender Diversity in Global Mobility RES forum 2017). In a recent survey, only 22% of global mobility leaders said their organisation’s mobility and diversity strategies were aligned (Modern mobility: Moving women with purpose PwC 2016).
So what can companies do to align their gender diversity and global mobility goals?
The catch 22: assumptions and behaviours
One factor blocking change may be an assumption that women are less willing to take on an international assignment. Social factors may feed into this, particularly where a woman has a partner and/or family, based on the perception that family commitments limit a woman’s willingness to travel, or that she is not the main breadwinner so will not want to uproot a male partner from his career.
These assumptions may be wrong in many cases, and may in reality apply to men as well to women. They nevertheless contribute to a vicious circle whereby women are less likely to hear about, or be put forward for, international assignments, globally mobile female role models remain scarce, and these limiting assumptions remain unchallenged.
What should employers do?
There will always be some women – and some men – for whom international assignments are unattractive due to family commitments or social pressures. However, there are number of steps employers can take to broaden their global mobility programme. These include widening the selection pool for global mobility candidates, improving communication, and ultimately challenging outdated social perceptions which are harmful to business success.
Global Mobility teams can work with HR for example by:
- Helping to identify women who have a desire for an international experience. For example including a question in the performance review process and ensuring all staff are actively encouraged to express their interest.
- Partnering with the business to anticipate assignments ahead of time and then providing regular updates about the opportunities available.
- Bringing transparency to the selection process so women can understand how to apply for a position and what the criteria are for selection.
- Providing an opportunity for female role models to share their global mobility experience, for example via internal presentations or newsletters.
It may also be that the structure of a traditional assignment can itself deter some candidates. GM teams should consider non-traditional assignment durations and packages to encourage non-traditional applicants, while still balancing cost pressures. For example:
- Making use of shorter term assignments.
- Increasing the amount of time and number of flights home available to those on assignment.
- Including support for children and including other family members as dependents (such as dependent parents).
How can we help?
By providing equal opportunities to valuable employees who may have traditionally been overlooked, the rewards of aligning global mobility and diversity programmes could be significant for international businesses. Our global mobility team has a wealth of technical knowledge and general industry practice experience. We can help you design, implement and operate effective global mobility programmes that support your business objectives and your people. Please get in touch for more information or see our global mobility brochure for more details.