Category Archives: Executive Coaching
Female and Minority Talent

The Push for Female and Minority Talent in Global Mobility

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 has 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 Female and Minority 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

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

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. And 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.

Suppose you belong to Female and Minority Talent in Global Mobility or are a Global Mobility Manager and need more support for a breakthrough in your career. In that case, you can contact me for a first conversation here

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Gender equality: is the tide turning for female expats? (2016). FIDI GLOBAL ALLIANCE.

Gurchiek, K. (2022). Report: Most Companies Are “Going Through the Motions” of DE&I. SHRM. 

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

KPMG. (2018). Inclusion and Diversity in Global Mobility. KPMG.

Meier, O. (2019). The path to diversity. Mercer.

PwC. (2011). 14th Annual Global CEO Survey. PwC.

PwC. (2015). Female millennials in financial services: Strategies for a new era of talent. PwC.

The Push for Female and Minority Talent in Global Mobility is gaining momentum as international organizations have Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) objectives according to a report by KPMG, 2018.  Still, many companies need to catch up due to failure to understand how Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals impact Global Mobility.

Another KPMG survey highlighted that most Global Mobility Programs do not 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 and while I understand that we might not need to develop a DEI strategy for Global Mobility, we should still include Global Mobility in our DEI Metrics.

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).

Companies have smaller talent pools as the communication of overseas opportunities often needs to be clarified. 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 result in broadening communication to employees about opportunities. 

Female and minority talent miss opportunities because they are not transparent. They are not only unaware of the possibilities, often they do not have 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. 

How We Define All of You

I would also like to define what I mean by “Female and Minority 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.
  • LGBTQ+: LGBTQ+ 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 will often see unconscious bias against female talent because the Sponsoring Manager assumes that a woman has a house to keep and children to raise. Sometimes the prejudice is just as simple as “women don’t do this kind of job or can’t work in this country.” A strong stereotype is that women with children don’t want to work abroad. Or there is the assumption that a married gay couple would have a hard time in certain locations because of the lack of legal acceptance of their marriage. Sometimes gay men are not even out of the closet within their

companies. Although society has gotten a lot more open in the last 20 years we need to remember that there are many reasons why an employee might not want to disclose everything about themselves to their employer.

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 more female and minority talent within our population and our own communities.

Here are our six tactics to give female and minority talent a seat at the Global Mobility table.

Six Tactics to Create Space at the Table

1 – Identify Strong Candidates with Data: Again, this boils down to eliminating all prejudices, stereotypes, and biases. Whether male or female, it is essential to 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. For a few assignments, you will need proficiency with the host country’s native language(s). Most talents succeed in international projects in English.

2 – Select Candidates Based on Intercultural Competence: Every candidate that meets the requirement for being sent on an assignment should go through an intercultural sensitivity test.  Not only can women be willing to receive a project, but they are just as capable of accomplishing great things and succeeding as their male colleagues.  On another note, the potentially stressful or dangerous context in the host location might deter some employees, but before assuming, have a conversation with your potential assignee. You must base selection on data and facts rather than sentiments. Work with a professional to assess their intercultural competence.* 

3 – Provide Inclusive Guidelines to Recruiters: This sounds simple but profound. We have witnessed a surge of different “expatriates,” such as International Hires, Cross-Border Commuters, Virtual Assignees, Global Nomads, International Business Travelers, and Commuters. To be inclusive, we need to support these people and their needs as well as the classical expatriate. As mentioned in this interview, many international moves are now local-to-local transfers and international hires. 

4 – Enhance Intercultural Intelligence Across all Levels: Now is the time to promote intercultural intelligence within your workforce. Offer “Unconscious Bias” training to your senior managers and ensure your senior managers lead a diverse workforce. Expose them to other cultural styles.

5 – Offer an open Job Platform: Most companies work like Twitter. You have fans, followers, and people who closely watch you. You can make your global job market transparent. All talents want a fair chance at success, and you must find ways to motivate them to apply. Part-timers often need more recognition and sponsors. You also need to minimize the profiles so they match real professionals. As I mentioned in “The Global Career Workbook,” most job profiles I’m reading have been written for Superman and Wonderwoman.

6 – Target Your Job Ads to Female and Minority Talent: You might want to rewrite all your job postings to be more inclusive and reduce the white male-dominated language. When you post a job profile on LinkedIn, you can pay for as much or as little exposure as you want and target it to a specific audience. Indeed, if you manage your campaign effectively by targeting Female and Minority Talent, you show your support and help your brand. Mention that you wish to hire women and minorities explicitly. 

If you belong to Female and Minority Talent in Global Mobility or if you are a Global Mobility Manager and need more support for a breakthrough in your career, you can always contact me for a first conversation here

So I had this idea to talk about “Why the Expat Experience Needs Attention and Why the Expat Partner is Crucial for Well-being” at a recent event. But during the day, I noticed that it would be very hard to deliver an engaging and memorable presentation when the room was packed and the presenters were on camera. Most of the presenters were in the room, and by the time it should have been my turn, most of the topics had already been touched. I felt a bit tired from listening and semi-engaged for a long time. So basically, I made my points very directly and distinctly, and the facilitator gave me a platform through the introductions he made. In hindsight, I was doing live coaching, but I have to watch the recording as I’m unsure what happened. I felt very much there with the person concerned and forgot I was on “TV.” I also had a good laugh with the chat and all the hybrid participants. I almost felt like I was hosting a sideshow. My initial reaction was frustration, feeling excluded and second-class, but I knew all events with this facilitator were like an improv show.

You need to be on your toes, take a keyword and run with it. To stay interesting, however, you need to be punctuated, deliver, and have a punch line. Mansplaining and meandering immediately lead to the disengagement of the audience. They will rustle plates, order new drinks, or use verbal tomatoes.  It’s almost like a comedy show with sad topics, such as the war in Ukraine. For a while, I also thought that I should have prepared a keynote with better storytelling elements (which I hadn’t). I immediately thought of two avatars Heidi (the unhappy trailing spouse and Finance Director, Gen Y) and Ayesha, the independent Indian IT Professional moving to Europe to live a global nomadic lifestyle (Gen Z) while her father is waiting for her to get married and return to Cochin, Kerala.

Both women have a lot in common, but their challenges are different. Heidi might be confronted with the “Expat Partner Syndrome” that we have summarized with the three I’s (Isolation, Identity, Influence). Ayeesha could face a Cinderella Complex* in Europe, leading her to work until she is burned out. Both women should get support from a coach or therapist, and both women will need time to recover and understand what got them there.

Who is to blame for their misery? Is it only the individual and their inner system, or is it also a systemic issue that we have not been able to tackle yet? Have we, as a community, done enough to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion? Have we as a community understood that parts of the Expat Experience could be traumatic to the spouse, primarily when they identify as a career person? Are we proactively offering support to female expats that go beyond helping with the tax return and immigration process? Do we even understand the needs of our minority groups well enough to adapt our guidelines, processes, and procedures? And finally, do we as a community role model a behavior of collaboration, trust, and psychological safety?

What can you do as a next step?

1 – Review your global mobility guidelines for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Sustainable Options.

2 – Do more to promote support for Expat Partners, female expats, and minority groups in Global Mobility. 

3 – As providers, let’s start working together collaboratively. Become a member of #RelocateTheProfit Relocate the Profit

4 – Mental Health Awareness Month: I’m offering free first calls to anyone who wishes to talk to me. Book your slot here.



Further Reading and Videos 

Interview: The Expat Partner Syndrome with the three I’s (Isolation, Identity, Influence)

Interview: The Female Expat and the Cinderella Complex 

Interview: The Ten Commandments for the Global Mobility Manager

ANGIE W in Zurich, SEP 15’22, informs about her view of the Mobility “10” commandments

Ten Commandments for the Global Mobility Manager

The Nutcracker Relief and Aschenbroedel Syndrome

Can I get Nutcracker Relief

The Expat Experience



Dowling, C. (1981): The Cinderella Complex – Womens Hidden Fear of Independence –


The Cinderella Complex – When a Secret Need to be Saved Ruins Everything


Workplace Aggression

Workplace aggression is a very common scenario among my clients. Here is a typical situation. Your colleague Paul tells you he has to get home at 6 pm to see his children and he throws in that your boss asked for a report she needs to have on her desk at 7 AM tomorrow. You cringe and call your partner to tell him you will need another 30 minutes to finalize the report. Your stomach feels hot and red. You are angry. Your colleague manages to get away.

Why does he not have a deliverable here?

Why is this team effort on your shoulders now?

You think you could test if the boss was serios about 7 AM but you know you won’t get away with it.

Another messed up the night. Your partner will be angry too now. You strip out of your suit as soon as you get home. On nights like this after leaving the battleground you just want to have a glass of wine and a bath. Your partner rattles with the car keys. It is his gym night. Dinner needs to be cooked, the kids want a story and your inner household monster tells you to clean up the wardrobe. At 10 pm when your partner gets home, you just want to go to bed. You almost had a bottle of wine by now.

The next morning, you protect your feelings through professionalism. You meditate and go for a run to keep up a smile. You wear a mask. You put on your business persona together with your pin-striped business suit and when you ask your boss if the report was ok, she just shrugs

“I had other priorities this morning. Team meeting at 10. Will you book a room for us?”.

“Isn’t that Paul’s task?”

“Yes, but he got caught up at kindergarten and will only get here at 9.45 AM. Be a good colleague and get us some pretzels too.”

You smile your best smile and help out again. While men seem to handle office politics better, I often notice that women prefer to stay out of roles where they have to deal with conflicts all the time. If you are in a leadership role – no matter if you are male or female – you won’t stay out of the firing lines. Doing favors might be easy, but verbal and written attacks will be part of your day.

You might feel you are giving more than you should, and you might even feel that some of your colleagues advance faster than you, make more money, and aren’t even better at what they do than you are. The good news is: You don’t have to accept aggressive behavior at the workplace. 

1) Reduce Your Aggressive Tonality

You could be seen as aggressive by others. If you solve conflicts on your managerial level by escalating issues to the next level, this could be seen as conflict-avoiding and aggressive. Maybe your intention is to highlight a flaw in the process or that the team is understaffed. Still, the effect could be different than what you intend.

You might underestimate your native language and cultural assumptions too. If you are, for example a native Russian speaker you could come across as unfriendly and aggressive in English without intending it. Or if you are a native French speaker you might come across as long-winded and complicated in English. It is good to ask a native-speaker friend how they see you and what you could improve in your communication style.

2) Stop Giving Unsolicited Feedback

You might also be seen as passive-aggressive as you feel the need to correct others and give them unsolicited feedback. I had a colleague who would do that. I know now, that he was just trying to help me to become more assertive, but at the time it drove me crazy. The basic rule is that you only give feedback and tips if your colleagues explicitly ask you for it. If you are the boss you probably need to give advice, but be sure that you tell your subordinate that. Otherwise, they will feel scolded and like back in high school. Since I started a business it happened to me more than once that listeners in an audience wanted to help me “sell” my services better or gave me feedback on word plays they would not understand. I understand the intention but I would have remembered them in a different light if they had just asked me about my intentions before babbling their ideas out.

3) Become a Listener

With the current average attention span of 90 seconds, your colleagues will love you if you manage to listen to them for a full length of a three-minute story without interrupting. If you practice being authentic and a compassionate listener. You will be seen as a source of inspiration and wisdom. Try to understand where your colleague or manager stands at the moment, which issues they have to solve, and maybe also what they are going through in their personal lives.

4) Communicate your Needs

In business conversations, it is helpful to speak about your needs and expectations in the I-form. “I need a quiet space to be able to think…” instead of “Could you shut up please?”. Or “I expect you to keep the deadline for your deliverables as you promised to help me on this report.” instead of “Once again, you have not delivered what you said you would in time.”

5) Improve your business relationships

As I mentioned several times in the “Seven Principles for Intercultural Effectiveness” improving your business relationships is the key to success in this globalized world. Work on every single relationship that is important to you and become a giver. You will be rewarded with success and long-term friendships across the globe.

6) Practice Non-Violent Communication

Even if we have become used to aggressive behavior in our hierarchical work cultures, we can all work towards a more appreciative communication culture. I recommend you learn about Marshall B. Rosenberg’s concept of non-violent communication and start practicing giving feedback by addressing a wish to the other person. 

7) Address Microaggressions in Others

Sometimes we notice microaggressions in others and it can be hard to deal with that especially if you belong to a marginalized group of the society you live in, for example, you could feel labeled as an “expat”, “migrant” or “foreigner”. One of the ways exclusive micro-aggressions can harm you is that they might trigger old childhood issues of feeling left out, of not belonging. If you notice other people’s microaggressions it would be good to address them, even if you can’t address them right away. Maybe you need to wait for a few hours and calm down before confronting the other person. Maybe you need to think about a good way to address the topic. 

If you feel insecure about the above-mentioned topics, either as a leader or as a team member you can always book a meeting with me to discuss this further. In my view, we should all feel safe at the workplace and be able to express our opinions, whether we are foreigners or not.


Castle Tyrole

I stood on the Uetliberg (the house mountain of Zurich) when I noticed that sometimes we walk up a mountain without knowing where the top is. We want clarity on how far the top is and what the top will look like. We are still determining what we will find there. For example, if I expected a restaurant, but expected to be less full, then I would walk out again immediately without even considering a bio-break. Or I did not expect a water fountain up there where I could fill my water bottle, which was helpful. Hiking a mountain, and changing to a self-employed career as a writer or blogger are similar.

You start with regular writing practice and move on to more elaborate content afterward. One of the challenges of the writing process is that we are only sometimes in the mood. Well, I’d like to compare it to hiking. Maybe you are not always in the mood for hiking either, but when you have been outside, even for just half an hour, and you moved your body and breathed fresh air, you will enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after your hike; your muscles are warm, your brain works better, and you can handle more stress. I would even go as far as saying that hiking is my superpower as it gives me clarity and enables my creative process better than anything else I do (Gardening also works miracles for me, will talk about that some other time.)

Writing is similar. Once I complete my early morning writing, I feel much more accomplished and ready to tackle the day. This is what we call “journaling” or “writing for therapy”. We could consider this practice as a warm-up for the productive writing, we would like to do that day. Mostly those pages are random. They are not worth reading again. They sometimes just associate ideas and connect the associations in my head. Often I express a wish or two for the next day.

If you feel like you are walking on an uphill hike that takes your breath away and makes your heart pound faster than a “Geigerzaehler,” then you probably cannot wait to reach the top. You expect a view from the top, and your pace will be more leisurely afterward. You wish to walk along the top plain, or you could just hike down. During my last hike, I noted a few concepts that helped when I hiked up. I would like to share them with you for your support.

Your current challenge could be that you don’t have a job in the market, you don’t understand, have started a new role, or need to know what this year will bring to your current position. Maybe you are starting out on your own as well or you transition into a semi-retirement or you just become a working mum. 

Take the same approach to your career as you would take when hiking a mountain.

1 – The Perspective Retreat

We tend to forget what we have managed, been through and survived when we only focus on the mountaintop. Once in a while, allow yourself a break and look back at how far you have come already. What helps here is the weekly reflection exercise in the #RockMeApp. However, I recommend an annual retreat as well to gain perspective and recharge your batteries. If you want to write that book now, you could allow yourself to retreat as well. A retreat does not always have to be expensive it can also happen in your home. Like me, you might need structure to be creative. I’m working with a “Week Planner” now, that would help me with the structure during the retreat. Think about what you need to have in your day to be productive and when your brain is at its best. Block out the writing or productive time.

2 – The Paradise Illusion

Even when you are at the mountain’s highest point and would like to walk along the plains, you still need to keep moving. As a leader, you will still need to deal with people’s issues, as you will still manage politics and distinguish fires daily. You must still care for your partner and children as an Expat Spouse. When I was a Global Mobility Manager, I always thought that one day I would not need to deal with the administration of this role anymore. Many years later, I still have dealt with many administrative chores, and you probably know that filling out forms is about as sexy as going to the dentist. You might be in a paradise illusion where you think that once you are a senior leader, you can influence the organization by changing the course of the strategy, mission, and purpose. Or can you work on small, incremental changes, such as using fewer flights or switching to a healthier way of working with humans? I call this a “paradise illusion.” 

3 – The Reality Check

Disappointments are a normal part of human nature. If you want to avoid other people’s expectations and pressure, write down and express your wishes instead. You never know if it will be granted to you. And it’s okay to make a wish related to another person, but it’s not okay that you expect anything from another person. Expecting another person to change for you is intrusive and unethical. However, we often want our bosses to change or our CEOs to be different. The only person you can change is yourself. In the past, I realized that only deep disappointment made me want to change. If I had always been happy at the last company I worked with, I would never have changed anything or started my own business because it is “gemutlich” (cozy) if you belong somewhere where people know and dislike you. It gives you the stability to know that someone will bitch about what you are wearing today and, even better, that you will never get the resources you asked for. I encourage you to move forward with the change that you wish to achieve and give space to the inner artist.

4 – Expect Muscle Cramps

If you are not a fitness freak, you might have muscle cramps for a few days after you hike the mountain. It is the same when we have achieved an important goal. We often feel the aftereffects a few months later in our body. Sometimes it is necessary that you remind yourself what you have achieved and you could allow yourself a small celebration too. Celebrating wins and team success is only occasionally a priority in the corporate world. Hence, if you have nothing to be happy about at work now, you could plan a team party and thank your team for working hard. You could also invite your partner for dinner. Look back at what you have achieved and allow yourself to kick back and relax a bit. When you move into a new area of possibilities you might not always see the path clearly and you will also encounter roadblocks. Brace yourself for them and celebrate the small victories. I celebrate hiking with a Bratwurst and non-alcoholic wheat beer at the top or down in the valley. And looking at the writing over the last 10 years I feel is worth celebrating.