Success in International Assignments for Female and Minority Expats

OYIN

Guest post by Oyindamola Adedokun

It is no gainsaying that globalization has truly changed the modalities of doing business in the 21st century. The increased rate of interconnectedness and global interdependence has generated the need for many companies to spread their tentacles abroad if they must have a competitive advantage and wield global relevance in today’s fast-changing global economy. The development and geographical expansion of international corporations are however not usually a walk in the park. 

There’s a wide array of expatriation processes that must be networked in order to manage a subsidiary or branch in a geographical territory or culture that is different from the headquarters. 

Before we explore the factors that determine whether or not an international assignment is successful, it is only relevant to examine some of the other reasons why international corporations send assignees abroad. 

The first reason is position filling (SHRM, 2017). Expats are sent on international assignment mostly if there is a position that no local could fill. This is mostly due to a lack of sufficient skills and expertise that allows one to function optimally in a given role. At this juncture, suitable expats are sent from the headquarters or sourced externally to fill an existing gap. This is mostly a common occurrence in the construction sector. 

The second reason expatriates are sent on international assignments is to have them develop their managerial skills by gaining access to an international context of doing business, thereby fostering career growth (UKEssays, 2018). Many multinational companies (MNCs) use expatriate assignments as a leadership development tool. These MNCs often send their managers and executives internationally in an attempt to develop their knowledge of the international economic environment and their ability to work and manage effectively across national borders (Tung, 1998). 

Repatriates, who have completed a global assignment, can help establish and expand an MNC’s international business because they possess first-hand knowledge of particular cultural contexts, including information about specific markets and customers. Repatriates understand how the company is perceived in another country and are part of a global social network that can advance the company’s business.

Another reason why multinationals send expats on international assignments is to enter a new market. Expats are sent on assignment to a new territory to analyze the market to see whether the company’s products or services will attract clients and users. 

The last reason is to control and coordinate the global activities of a company (Bonache et al., 2001; Harvey and Novicevic, 2001) as it is in the company’s interest to integrate its transnational activities. Through their expatriates, the companies seek to replicate the values and objectives of their home offices in the culture of the branch where the international assignment is taking place. 

Having discussed some of the reasons why companies send expats on international assignments, I will now examine five important factors that determine success in international assignments for expats. 

The factors that contribute to the success of expats on international assignment can be classified into 5 categories: job knowledge and motivation; relational skills; flexibility and adaptability; extra-cultural openness; family situation (Arthur, Bennet; 1995, cited by Weber; 2004).

    • Job knowledge and expertise. The importance of possessing the technical skills relevant to a role cannot be overemphasized. This is one of the major factors that guarantee optimal work delivery in an international assignment. As already mentioned, one of the reasons multinational enterprises send expats on a foreign assignment is to transfer skills and knowledge to a branch. Suffice it to say that one can only transfer the skills and expertise one possesses. 
    • Relational skills. Accepting to go on an international assignment is invariably accepting to leave the people you are already familiar with to interact with a new set of unfamiliar people and colleagues. Relational skills go beyond the knowledge of the business model and professional experience to include personal traits such as patience, trustworthiness and honesty, empathy and understanding, reliability and dependability, influence, and persuasiveness. 
    • Flexibility and adaptability. These refer to one’s ability and willingness to respond and adjust to changes by balancing your core beliefs to accommodate the norms in one’s current environment. An expat would only be successful to the degree he or she is able to adapt to new processes, methodology, and procedures. 
    • Extra-cultural openness. The concept of cultural intelligence captures an individual’s capacity for successful adaptation to new and unfamiliar cultural settings and ability to function easily and effectively in cultural environments worldwide including situations characterized by cultural diversity (Earley & Ang, 2003; Earley & Mosakowski, 2004). It is an individual’s capability to deal effectively with people from a different cultural background and understanding (Earley & Ang, 2003). International assignments involve going to a country with an array of different cultural preferences. In order to avoid stress and frustration, an expatriate must possess some level of global competency. 
    • Family situation. The family situation is a key factor that determines whether or not an assignment is successful. Organizations have the responsibility to cater to their employees during an international assignment. However, does this care and concern extend to the expat family? After all, the success of an international assignment cannot be taken into account separately from family support. As a matter of fact, people would choose to leave their international assignments in order to save their marriages (Weinberger; 2020). 

Getting a coaching session with Angie Weinberger could already be a step in the right direction of making an international assignment successful.  You can so sign up here to receive offers for free online workshops and updates on the upcoming HireMeExpress program.

About the Author

Oyindamola Adedokun is an experienced Mobility Professional with expertise in talent mobility across Africa. He is experienced in engaging proven measures to provide both SME (Small and Mid-size enterprises) and Large-size multinationals end-to-end support in on-boarding expatriates in Nigeria.

With his practical experience, Oyindamola manages a broad range of Immigration facilities such as STR visa, Temporary Working Permit, CERPAC, Quota Approval from the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Interior. He also consults potential foreign investors who are trying to explore the many untapped opportunities present in the Nigerian market on the legalities of establishing a foreign enterprise in Nigeria. 

With a demonstrated history in the oil and energy sector, Oyin currently manages the immigration facilities of well over 100 expats in one of the leading oil servicing companies in West Africa. 

References

Earley, P.C., & Ang, S. (2003). Cultural intelligence: Individual interactions across cultures. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.

Earley, P.C., & Mosakowski, E. (2004). Cultural intelligence. Harvard Business Review, 82, 139-153. 

SHRM. ( May 2017). Managing International Assignment https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/cms_010358.aspx 

UKEssays. (November 2018). Motive For Sending Managers Abroad As Expatriates. Retrieved from

https://www.ukessays.com/essays/management/motive-for-sending-managers-abroad-as-expatriates-management-essay.php?vref=1 

Weber, T. (2004). What Are The Critical Success Factors In Expatriate Assignments?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/34588

Weinberger, A. (2020). Assignment Failure on the Rise? The Solution is to Prevent Family Separation – Part 1 https://globalpeopletransitions.com/avoiding-assignment-failure-through-family-issues-seven-key-provisions-for-your-global-mobility-guidelines-part-2/

The Push for Rainbow Talent in Global Mobility – Part 4

Rainbow Talent

I recently started this series of posts on the push for “Rainbow Talent” in Global Mobility. The Push for Rainbow Talent in Global Mobility is a series we created for Pride Month to raise awareness of the issues diverse and queer talent might experience in the realm of Global Mobility. In Part 1 we focused on the WHY and in Part 2 on the HOW. Here we focus on the benefits of a more inclusive Global Mobility program. In part 4 we will focus on WHAT you can do to change with ten concrete action steps. We discussed the background here (Part1) and here (Part 2). I’ve also given you lots of reasons why it makes sense to support Rainbow Talent further here (Part 3).

I haven’t concentrated on what it would look like to make that happen. 

The reason why I follow up with the reality check so late is that we will often hear “reality” as an excuse to not take action at all, which in my book is not good enough.

Let’s also remember that we have a lot of “Rainbow Talent” in our industry. Most of us are female and/or gay come from bicultural backgrounds, are married or partnering with a person with a different cultural background, speak three to four languages and we all drink too much coffee.

The Global Mobility industry attracts us like bees to the honey pot and let’s be honest we even sometimes shy away from the additional complexities of working with “Rainbow Talent” ourselves.

I committed in 2020 to help more marginalized groups with one-to-one coaching and my internship program and now I need you to help me in this mission of bringing the Human Touch back into Global Mobility. 

Let’s all fight for what we believe in and start in our own backyard.

This post includes eight action steps for Senior and Global Mobility Managers to consider. 

What are these legal and immigration issues?

Most countries still don’t allow same-sex marriage. Homosexual conduct is still illegal in 69 countries according to the human rights campaign for Foundation 2021. There are still seven countries where homosexual conduct is punishable by death. In most countries in the world, it’s still hard to obtain immigration sponsorship for unmarried partners or de facto spouses.

With dual career couples among the Rainbow Talent the lack of career opportunities for the partner could be a serious problem and even a reason to decline an international assignment who you consider to be a Rainbow Talent will depend strongly on your home base in your home country, usually the country where your headquarters are. We recommend you adopt our summary of all marginalized groups into RAINBOW TALENT from here.

Let’s remember that despite the common challenges we can support more and do more with small steps.

The Macro Level of Rainbow Talent

So here’s a reminder why this is important don’t forget that in the last three years and even before in global mobility we have been dealing with the so-called BANI world (which stands for brittle, anxious, non-linear, and incomprehensible) and we have been focusing on the global eco disasters the pandemic the war in Ukraine and usually we get involved in all of these let’s say global crisis and we have to deal with them all the time so we became crisis managers and in the case we don’t face any global crisis you can bet we have some crisis going on in our personal lives so we’re really good at managing crises.

With the work-from-anywhere movement, administrations are now starting to reduce hurdles and barriers social security laws are revised to match the expectations of cross-border commuters and we see our population and Scope increasing evermore. I did already predict that this will happen when I first started out to write “The Global Mobility Workbook. The last edition already had this definition of the scope of global mobility but what we cannot stress enough it’s the complexity that we are facing right now.

 

Another topic that is on the agenda everywhere and the bust of the day is the ethical use of machine learning and artificial intelligence in global mobility. And on the job market you probably also notice the trend towards great resignation and we are also facing recession and inflation currently. and global mobility managers have been dealing with these topics all the time but what we tend to underestimate is that marginalized groups usually suffer more from these issues than let’s say the white male mainstream character who always had better chances in the world not to condemn the white old man, I still think we need the superheroes and as I recently learned it’s also important that we’re grateful for what they have built. I also want to remember that in Europe in the generation of my grandparents for example we faced war, trauma, and destruction and our grandparents and parents basically rebuilt Germany and many parts of Europe.

What we have observed though is that psychological safety has not improved during the pandemic it has rather declined especially in global virtual teams it is harder now to build trust that turnover is higher retention is more difficult, especially among the younger generation people who joined companies during the pandemic it’s a lot harder for them to feel that they belong to an organization. so we need to do more about this and we also need to remember societal changes and demographic changes.

Michael and Rob

Londoners Michael and his husband Rob received an offer to move to Hungary with Michael’s work but they declined it due to a new law that discriminates against gay couples. They decide to move to Zurich, Switzerland instead. In Zurich, Michael feels safe at work and his career hits off well. Rob, on the other hand, has a hard time finding a job. His last name is Vracovic and his slightly olive skin tone always seems to turn people off. Even though he is at a B2 German level and has a Masters’s degree in Digital Marketing he does not land any interviews and after 12 months of job search feels depressed and lonely.

The Micro Level of Rainbow Talent

Global mobility policies and communication still is often written for the white male Expatriate with a wife and two children and a nice golden retriever called Timmy and we have to remember you know that if we would like to address other talents we also have to change our basic assumptions and how we communicate with our population.

We think that the sustainable Expatriate experience includes technology that helps us improve the human touch and is focusing on providing a long-term career experience that is integrated into succession planning and Talent development. In this sustainable expat experience, we see improved diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in the selection process.

We ensure that there is good mental health and well-being on any kind of international assignment project or business trip. while we do not always know everything about our employee’s personal life because not every employee is out of the closet we need to remember when we are dealing with a new democratic such as Michael that we would like to see how we can help them and how we can talk to them about their personal issues in relation to Global Mobility.

If you belong to RAINBOW Talent in Global Mobility or if you are a Global Mobility Manager you can always contact me for a first conversation here

How to Talk to Rainbow Talent

We define “Rainbow Talent” as an umbrella term for these marginalized groups of talent:

  • Women of all skin colors,
  • BIPOC: The acronym BIPOC refers to black, indigenous, and other people of color and aims to emphasize the historical oppression of black and indigenous people,
  • LGBTQIA+: LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer or questioning, and other sexual identities and genders,
  • Religious and cultural underrepresented groups in your home and host countries,
  • People with disabilities,
  • People with a broad range on the mental health spectrum, 
  • Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

We need to remember that you might yet have to understand the different needs of your Rainbow Talent. Hence, for a pilot period of at least one year, I would recommend you regularly ask them and listen to what they tell you. For example, if they feel challenged by the immigration process you should ask them what they found helpful and if they see room for improvement. While you won’t be able to change the legal system in the host country, you will be able to improve their expat experience.

Ten Action Steps

1 – Start small with inclusion, and think big by setting goals for Rainbow Talent in Global Mobility, potentially focusing on one marginalized group only in the beginning. For example, you could start with women and set a goal of 30% female assignees by 2030.

2 – Redefine “Family” in your Global Mobility Policy, and include all marginalized groups, their partners, and also members of the family that a traditional policy would usually exclude such as parents, in-laws, and older relatives. Consider adding adopted and foster children, as well as de facto spouses. Decide what you accept as proof of a (de facto) marriage such as a shared rental contract, an affidavit, or a same-sex marriage certificate, even if it does not qualify in the host country’s legal system. 

3 – Review all communications for inclusive language by applying the United Nations guidelines for inclusive communication.

4 – Update the Benefit Matrix, offer tax support and spouse career coaching to dual-career couples, and change parental leave regulations. 

5 – Support Expat Partners through Immigration by upgrading your support for immigration by increasing the budget and finding a provider who is specialized in helping with complex immigration situations.

6 – Expand Your Health Insurance to include the relevant family members in the coverage.

7 – Expand your International Pension Plan to include the relevant family members in the coverage. If your provider does not allow to include all relevant family members consider moving to a new provider who offers specific solutions.

8 – Review Compensation for Equity. Make sure that your Rainbow Talent is compensated on an equitable level with other talent and conduct non-biased research to ensure equity. Offer a box of chocolate (core-flex) approach to make sure that you meet the needs of your Rainbow Talent.

9 – Ask Vendors to Increase Representation of Rainbow Talent. Work with vendors who share the proportion of Rainbow Talent you wish to see in our world.

10 – Remember the Pets. Many Rainbow Talents might not have children but it could be that they have a dog or a cat that means the world to them. Make sure that you include the furry friend in the package by offering special support through the move, quarantine, or temporary lodging.

If you are ever unsure what to do next you can refer back to the “Ten Commandments for the Global Mobility Manager“.

Sign up here for more: https://globalpeopletransitions.com/become-a-reader-of-the-global-people-club-sandwich/

Do you need more support for a breakthrough in your career? You can contact me for a first conversation by filling out the contact form. Sign up here for more.

 

Terminology

Explanation of “The Box of Chocolates”

  • Budget the cost of the move with a simple spreadsheet
  • Allow flexibility within the budget by monitoring actual expenses
  • Take services out of compensation and pay schools, landlords, and other providers directly
  • Let Heidi and Govind select what they need from the box

 

The Definition of Rainbow Talent:

RAINBOW TALENT according to us:

  • Women of all skin colors,
  • BIPOC: The acronym BIPOC refers to black, indigenous, and other people of color and aims to emphasize the historical oppression of black and indigenous people.
  • LGBTQIA+: LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer or questioning, and other sexual identities and genders.
  • Religious and cultural underrepresented groups in your home and host countries,
  • People with disabilities 
  • People with a broad range on the mental health spectrum.
  • Refugees

 

Expat Coach Angie
Expat Coach Angie

About the Author

“I’m on a Mission to Bring the Human Touch back into Global Mobility.”

Angie Weinberger is the Global Mobility Coach and author of The Global Mobility Workbook (currently on sale). Her upcoming publication “The Global Rockstar Album” is a self-help book for becoming a more inclusive leader. Sign up to get invited to the book launch event on 26 September 23 of “The Global Rockstar Album”: VIP Readers.

Read her blog: Read the “Club Sandwich” – Global People Transitions

 

Further Resources

The Push for Rainbow Talent in Global Mobility – Part 1

The Push for Female and Minority Talent in Global Mobility – Part 2

The Push for Female and Minority Talent in Global Mobility – Part 3

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/exercises-psychological-safety/

The Importance of Looking at the Whole Family in the Expatriation Process will raise Global Mobility to the Next Level – The Bridge School: Powered by American Virtual Academy 

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/our-ten-commandments-for-the-global-mobility-manager/

Unpacking the Shortcomings of Lifestyle Expatriation – Global People Transitions

The Female Expat and Cinderella

Enhancing the Expat Experience – A deep psychology approach

The Push for Rainbow Talent in Global Mobility – Part 3

Ayeesha

Benefit From Being More Inclusive in Global Mobility

In the first part of our series, “The Push for Rainbow Talent,” we have focused on why this topic is important and why we must address it. The Push for Rainbow Talent is our series to raise awareness for the less-represented talent groups in Global Mobility. This post focuses on how you can benefit from being more inclusive. Even though the global business case for boosting Diversity and Inclusion is clear, we seem to have gone backward when trying to reach our diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.

If you want to expand your global competitiveness, you need to be a pioneer of equal opportunities, promote acceptance and understanding, and highlight the value of your employees. You need more than unconscious bias training for managers. You need to establish facts. And that can only be achieved with data. Here are the five main reasons for developing DEIB goals for your Global Mobility Program.

1 – Tap Into a Bigger Pool of Resources

Establish concrete goals for sending minority and female talent and persistently work towards achieving them. You will then automatically broaden the talent pool from which the mobile population is drawn. This way, you will help ensure that the executive pipeline reflects your customer base, developing a more diverse group of future leaders. Finally, report the data regularly to your Senior Management. With data, everything will stay the same.

2 – Engage with a Mosaic of Different Perspectives

It should go without saying that a broader range of backgrounds (considering all possible factors, i.e., gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, culture, language, socio-economic classes, etc.) results in a team having a more comprehensive range of perspectives. That will reflect successively in better-stimulated creativity and innovation and a team ready for all opportunities.

3 – Enhance Team Collaboration

It has been proven that women generally have better collaboration abilities. This heightened sense of collaboration is partly due to women’s better ability to read non-verbal cues. A better partnership will allow improvement in many fields, including team processes. Researchers have observed that groups with more women respect speaking turns out better and are better at leveraging each team member’s knowledge and competencies. 

4 – Gain Better Control Over Costs

One of the leading mobility cost drivers is not related to pay packages and policies per se but because companies often have a limited choice of candidates for assignments. A broader talent pool facilitates assignment success and indirectly helps control costs. You depend less on one candidate and can negotiate better packages if you have a broader pool. You probably also have better candidates if you have more than one in the pipeline.

Another way hiring minorities and women will benefit you financially is that happy and respected employees tend to be more loyal and easy to retain; that, in turn, saves you time, money, and energy in the hiring and training process. Do bear in mind that hiring them is a good starting point, but not sufficient in itself: you have to treat them well and not be afraid to admonish sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, etc., in the office or anywhere, for that matter!

5 – Improve Your Brand and Reputation as an Employer of Choice

Nowadays, having international experience is a precondition to reaching top managerial levels within many multinational companies. Employees develop essential skills and build a network that boosts their careers immensely. It’s, therefore, crucial that you promote mobility as part of your talent brand. If you do that, you will also be advantaged when competing for minority and female talent. Offering international opportunities to minority and female talent will put you ahead of the competition by showing in your reviews. You will become renowned as an “Employer of Choice.” 

Let’s move forward with tactical steps.

One of the leading mobility cost drivers is a direct consequence of the limited choice of candidates ready for assignments. Inviting more women to the club creates more options for your company and indirectly helps control costs better. The more good candidates you have, the better your selection will be, and the higher the chances you don’t have to sell an incredibly overpriced assignment package. To successfully attract and retain female employees, you must have a talent brand with international experience as a core element of your employee talent proposition. Do you think that more women add immense value to your company?  

1 – Set Clear Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Goals for Global Mobility

Global Mobility and DEI teams need to set realistic yet challenging goals for increasing the number of female assignees AND female department heads in Global Mobility. According to the report, Elevating Equity: The Real Story of Diversity and Inclusion.  Seventy-six percent of companies have no diversity or inclusion goals.! 

2 –  Allow for More Flexibility by Having Different Assignment Types 

New types of assignments and flexibility are making things easier for women and employees with family responsibilities to go on assignments. As I reiterate in The Global Mobility Workbook, Global Mobility should be separate from traditional Long-Term Assignments. Even if those remain the preferred assignment type by all genders, women favor 6-to-12 months assignments more than men (37% vs. 29%). We can say the same for assignments shorter than three months (10% vs. 5%) as well as frequent business travels (36% vs. 32%) (PwC, 2016a).

3 – Identify and Understand What the Real Barriers are 

Do you know what the real barriers to inclusive mobility are for your workforce and organizations? If you’ve never measured how your current policies hinder women’s mobility, you should act NOW.  Stop simply assuming the barriers to gender inclusiveness and understand better where the actual issues lay. That’s why I recommend intercultural training for all Global Mobility Managers.

4 – Give More Visibility to Role Models

Women and other Rainbow Talent are not considered for global assignments or where management assumes women are less interested. Recent research from the RES Forum showed that while 80% of men believe the selection process to be ‘gender neutral,’ only 44% of women agree. Women appear to struggle to present themselves as potential candidates and selection procedures appear to be biased against them (FIDI, 2018)

5 – Use More Gender-Inclusive Language 

Too often, Global Mobility policies still refer to their globally mobile workforce with masculine pronouns. And quite logically, the consequence is that they would make you assume that “trailing” Spouses should be female. Well, it’s 2021, and this is not the case anymore. To make your program more inclusive, start by addressing your talent differently. The UN has recently published new guidelines that will also be useful when updating your policies.

6 – Foster a Supportive and Inclusive Culture

If your company wishes to unlock its full global workforce potential, it must move away from the restrictive gender stigmas of the past. Your ultimate challenge is to create a culture where all employees are on board with diversity and recognize its value.

Do you need more support for a breakthrough in your career? Contact me for a call to discuss your coaching needs via angela@globalpeopletransitions.com or book a meeting via Calendly. https://calendly.com/angieweinberger (The first meeting of 25 minutes is free of charge.) 

 

 

The Push for Rainbow Talent in Global Mobility – Part 2

Rainbow Talent

In our last post, we explained why we need to push for more Female and Minority Talent in Global Mobility and how we include a number of people under this rainbow umbrella. We even coined #RainbowTalent. Why is this worth talking about? Picture this scenario: a leading multinational company must select somebody with the right skills to establish its first overseas division and have two equally strong candidates. Alice just got married and, in their best intentions but without consulting her, leadership decides that she would not like to go on assignment as she is likely to be starting a family. The opportunity is therefore offered to George.  What do Alice and George think twelve months later? 

Alice versus George

Alice and her husband wanted to get the wedding out of the way so that she could pursue her dream of going on an international assignment. She was shocked about not even being consulted. But it all worked out for her: she works overseas for one of their competitors and is very happy. The company’s decision came at the worst time for George. He and his wife were about to announce their first pregnancy to their families.  But he still said “yes” to the opportunity and eventually convinced his wife to try it. It was, however, very tough on her: She was sick throughout the pregnancy, and when the baby was born, she had no support network. This situation also impacted George’s performance which was disappointing compared to his pre-assignment performance. For this reason, the company decided to bring him back. 

Wrong Assumptions and Stereotypes hold Rainbow Talent Back

Wrong assumptions and stereotypes are, in fact, one of the reasons why women continue to be highly under-represented in Global Mobility. The 2020 Worldwide Survey of International Assignment Policies and Practices states that an average of 20% of the global expatriate workforce is female (Huntridge, 2021).

We shall keep in mind that some favorable variations don’t influence the overall conclusions: we are still decades away from seeing the percentage of female assignees rise to 50%. In the best-case scenario, the predictions estimate this will be reached only around 2050 (Mercer, 2017).

It’s time to make opportunities accessible to all, including female and minority talent.

1 – Formulate the Strategy with Metrics for Rainbow Talent

Like most international organizations, you need to align Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with Global Mobility. Most of all, you should have metrics and goals to ensure that you have enough representation of all groups:

  • Women of all skin colors,
  • BIPOC: The acronym BIPOC refers to black, indigenous, and other people of color and aims to emphasize the historical oppression of black and indigenous people.
  • LGBTQIA+: LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer, and other sexual identities and genders.
  • Religious and cultural minorities in your home and host countries,
  • People with disabilities 
  • People with a broad range on the mental health spectrum.

You should work on solving this crucial issue as soon as possible. When goals and data are discussed with Senior Management, Global Mobility Managers must have a seat at the table. 

2 – Rewrite the Policy for Rainbow Talent

Many Global Mobility policies were initially developed for male assignees with children and a “trailing” spouse. Ensure your policy addresses the issues of women and new types of families – single parents, for example (the vast majority of them female), or same-sex couples. Review the meaning of “Family” in your guideline and choose a more inclusive approach there.

3 – Allow a Self-Nomination Process based on Performance and Potential

There still needs to be more transparency over who is assigned and why. Companies often don’t have a clear overview of their employees’ willingness to be internationally mobile. And like in Alice’s and George’s stories, unconscious bias still plays a considerable (yet invisible) role in the selection of the candidates. Because of the prevalence of stereotypes that associate women with family, female employees are usually not even asked, even if they are willing to consider an assignment abroad. I’ve been there too. 

4 –  Select Women for Non-Diverse Host Locations 

This is probably not a big issue (apart from a few critical war zones and dangerous locations). The problem is instead the assumption that expat women won’t be accepted in their new role abroad because of the fixed gender roles men and women have in the host location. Expat women in India automatically have a higher status than local women. In some Muslim cultures, as long as you wear a ring implying that you are married, you can be seen as highly respectable and will be treated accordingly. 

5 – Ensure better Representation in the Global Mobility Teams too

While Global Mobility Managers are often female, women don’t benefit from the same representation rate at the upper levels. This means that Senior Leaders and Executives in Global Mobility are mainly men. As a consequence, lack of awareness at the Senior Management level is an issue, and this is especially true in traditionally conservative countries.

6  –  Bring Back the Human Touch 

The lack of Human Touch and previous bad Expat Experiences might stop women from actively seeking opportunities for international exposure. HR and Global Mobility teams are often too busy focusing on the many operational aspects of the mobility program and fail to design a human-centric Global Mobility program for their expat population. If you haven’t started yet, do it now. Talk openly about diversity in your policies and encourage internal discussion.

Do you need more support for a breakthrough in your career? You can contact me for a first conversation by filling out the contact form. Sign up here for more.

 

Resources

https://hbr.org/2019/05/why-self-awareness-isnt-doing-more-to-help-womens-careers

https://dorothydalton.com/2016/03/11/gender-de-coding-and-job-adverts/

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20160929-where-are-all-the-expat-women 

http://www.internationalhradviser.com/storage/downloads/Gender%20Bias%20in%20Global%20Mobility%20Developing%20Female%20Leaders%20PwC.pdf 

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/global-hr/pages/women-expatriate-workforce.aspx 

References 

Gender equality: is the tide turning for female expats? (2016). FIDI GLOBAL ALLIANCE. https://www.fidi.org/blog/gender-equality-tide-turning-female-expats

Gurchiek, K. (2022). Report: Most Companies Are “Going Through the Motions” of DE&I. SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/report-most-companies-are-going-through-the-motions-of-dei.aspx 

Huntridge, S. (2021). BTR: Stress-Free International Relocation and Move Management. BTR International.

KPMG. (2018). Inclusion and Diversity in Global Mobility. KPMG. https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle.pdf

Meier, O. (2019). The path to diversity. Mercer. https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/insights/article/the-path-to-diversity-women-on-assignment

PwC. (2011). 14th Annual Global CEO Survey. PwC. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-survey/pdf/14th-annual-global-ceo-survey.pdf

PwC. (2015). Female millennials in financial services: Strategies for a new era of talent. PwC. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/financial-services/publications/assets/pwc-female-millennial-report-v2.pdf

The Push for Rainbow Talent in Global Mobility – Part 1

Ayeesha

Why We Need to Support Rainbow Talent

The Push for Rainbow Talent in Global Mobility is a series we created for Pride Month to raise awareness of the issues diverse talent might experience in the realm of Global Mobility. Although international organizations have a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) objective, according to a report by KPMG (2018), many need to catch up due to failure to understand how Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion impact Global Mobility. 

Another KPMG (2018) survey highlighted that most Global Mobility Programs do not need to have specific Diversity and Inclusion objectives as part of their strategy. 70% of the companies with diversity and inclusion practices in place stated that this was due to a strong business case for diversity across all business areas.

While I understand that we might not need to develop a DEI strategy ONLY for Global Mobility, we should still include Global Mobility in our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals.

Globally, the proportion of female employees engaged in international assignments is merely 14%. While this percentage may differ across industries and regions, the overall picture is clear: even in well-developed markets, achieving gender parity is far from satisfactory (Mercer, 2019).

Female and minority talent miss opportunities because they are not transparent. They need to be made aware of the possibilities and often need access to the informal networks where participants are nominated for such opportunities. Even worse, white men tend to nominate other white men for international career opportunities within the military tradition and other old boys’ clubs. Most assignments are still nomination based. You get the gist. The outcome of the survey by KPMG (2018) brings hope in this aspect, as nearly half of the companies surveyed indicated that the review of their Global Mobility processes would broaden communication to all employees about opportunities. 

How we define Rainbow Talent

As there are many different groups and changing identities I would like to summarize them under the umbrella of all colors by the term “Rainbow Talent.”  I’m using this term as an inclusive summary of the following groups:

  • Women of all skin colors,
  • BIPOC: The acronym BIPOC refers to black, indigenous, and other people of color and aims to emphasize the historical oppression of black and indigenous people.
  • LGBTQIA+: LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer, and other sexual identities and genders.
  • Religious and other marginalized groups in your home and host countries,
  • People with disabilities 
  • People with a broad range on the mental health spectrum
  • Refugees.

You will often see unconscious bias because the Sponsoring Manager assumes that a woman has a house to keep and children to raise. They would not assume this for male talent. Sometimes the prejudice is just as simple as “women don’t do this kind of job or can’t work in this country.” 

Or there is the assumption that a married gay couple would have a hard time in specific locations because of the lack of legal acceptance of their marriage. Sometimes members of the LGBTQIA+ community are not even out of the closet within their companies. Although society has become much more open in the last 20 years, we must remember there could be many reasons why employees might not want to disclose everything about themselves to their employers.

There is enough evidence that companies having gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity are more likely than ever to outperform their less diverse peers.  Still, we hardly see any progress in this space within Global Mobility, so I wish all of us to push for Rainbow Talent within our expat population and communities.

Six Tactics

Here are our six tactics to give Rainbow Talent a seat at the Global Mobility table.

1 – Identify Strong Candidates with Performance and Potential Data:

Eliminate most of the prejudices, stereotypes, and biases by relying on hard data. Create a system of identifying those qualified for international work and projects. Performance and potential data are vital points to consider for an ideal selection. You can go back to “The Global Mobility Workbook” chapter 6 “Selecting Your Expats” for a framework. You must base selection on data and facts rather than sentiments.

2 – Select Candidates Based on Intercultural Competence:

Every candidate who meets the requirements should go through an intercultural competence assessment or even an assessment center designed to prepare for international assignments. The potentially stressful or dangerous context in the host location might deter some employees, but before assuming, have a conversation with your potential assignee. Work with a professional to assess their intercultural competence.  I can recommend the more academic Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI)™. We also work with the Individual Cultural Blueprint Indicator (ICBI) ™.

3 – Provide Inclusive Guidelines to Recruiters:

We have witnessed a surge of different “expatriates,” such as International Hires, Cross-Border Commuters, Global Nomads, International Business Travelers, and International Transfers. To be inclusive, we must support these people, their needs, and the “classical expatriate”. As mentioned in this interview, many international moves are now local-to-local transfers. Hence, often we do not involve a Global Mobility Manager in the process. An HR Manager or external recruiter is the point of contact for the “Expat Family”. We recommend that you upgrade your definition of the “Expat Family” and give more support to all involved. A “Box of Chocolates” approach can be helpful here. 

4 – Ensure Commitment from all Senior Managers to the Cause:

Promote intercultural competence within your senior workforce. Offer “Unconscious Bias” training to your senior managers and ensure your senior managers lead a diverse workforce. Expose them to other cultural styles and make sure that they are committed to the cause of inclusive leadership and that they are trained to speak to “Rainbow Talent” appropriately. We are working on a new publication called the “Global Rockstar Album” which supports leaders to become more inclusive. If you want to be informed about the book and join the launch party please sign up here.

5 – Offer a Global Job Platform with a Self-Nomination or Open Application Process:

Most companies work like social media, despite official structures there are informal networks. You have fans and followers, occasionally a sponsor or supporter. You can make your job opportunities transparent by allowing a self-nomination process. All talents want a fair chance at success, and you must find ways to motivate them to apply. 

6 – Target Your Job Ads to Rainbow Talent:

You also need to write more inclusive job profiles so they match real professionals and do not “sound” like you only want a white alpha male. As I mentioned in “The Global Career Workbook (2016)” most job profiles I’m reading have been written for Batman and Robin. We need more Wonder Woman and Supergirl profiles. It’s hard enough for Rainbow Talent to feel worthy to apply. Let’s make it easier by not setting totally unrealistic expectations from the beginning. 

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References and Further Reading

Four Ways Organizations Can Support Their LGBTQ+ Employees

KPMG. (2018a). Inclusion and Diversity: How Global Mobility Can Help Move the Needle. KPMG. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle-FINAL.pdf

Cohen, E. / Weinberger, A. (2023): “The Push for Female and Minority Talent in Global Mobility” , Video Interview ANGIE W 1:1 6/6 (spkr)

Coaston, J. (2019). Intersectionality explained: Meet Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term. Vox. https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/5/20/18542843/intersectionality-conservatism-law-race-gender-discrimination

Wettstein, R. (2020, June 22). ‘We must strive to be anti-racist’ SWI swissinfo.ch. https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/-we-must-strive-to-be-anti-racist-/45847188

Vargas, J. A. (2013, February 6). My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/magazine/my-life-as-an-undocumented-immigrant.html

Waldman, K. (2018, July 23). A Sociologist Examines the “White Fragility” That Prevents White Americans from Confronting Racism. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/a-sociologist-examines-the-white-fragility-that-prevents-white-americans-from-confronting-racism

Kramer, S. (2018). How Inclusion and Diversity Impact Global Mobility Programs [Report]. Retrieved 15 June 2021, from https://fowmedia.com/how-inclusion-and-diversity-impact-global-mobility/ 

McKinsey & Company. (2020). Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters [Report].
Diversity wins: How inclusion matters

Paton, T. (2021). DiversityBusiness.com | News. Retrieved 15 June 2021, from Minority and Gender Expatriate Challenges on International Assignments by Tom Paton 

PwC. (2016). Women of the world: Aligning gender diversity and international mobility in financial services. Pwc. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/industries/financial-services/assets/women-of-the-world.pdf

Weinberger, A. (2019): The Global Mobility Workbook, Third Edition.

Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified. (2014). Retrieved 15 June 2021, from https://hbr.org/2014/08/why-women-dont-apply-for-jobs-unless-theyre-100-qualified 

Expatriate Management: Women in the Workforce. (2019). Mercer Mobility. https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/insights/article/expatriate-management-women-in-the-workforce

Why Only 25 percent of International Assignees Are Women 121: Why Only 25% Of International Assignees Are Women