Category Archives: Virtual Teams
Rise of Women

Picture this scenario: a leading multinational company needs to select somebody with the right skills to establish their first overseas division and they 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 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 in the end: she is now working overseas for one of their competitors and is very happy in her role.

For George, the company’s decision really came at the worst time. His wife and he were about to tell their families about their first baby. But he still said “yes” to the opportunity and eventually convinced her wife to try that out. However, it was very tough on her and she ended up being sick through the whole pregnancy. When the baby was born, she had no support network. This situation also impacted his performance which was much lower than back home. For this reason, the company decided to bring him back. 

I bet it’s not the first time you are faced with this scenario. Wrong assumptions and stereotypes are in fact one of the reasons for which women continue to be highly under-represented within the expat population

However, there are a few positive sides that make the rise of women in Global Mobility look somewhat brighter than some time ago. Take policy and awareness for example. In 2011, only 12% of CEOs saw poor retention of female talent as a key business challenge, and only 11% were planning policy changes to attract and retain more female workers (PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey). Yet, just a few years later, 64% of CEOs worldwide confirm that they finally have a diversity strategy and 13% of them are planning to adopt one over the next 12 months (PwC, 2016a).

What’s to Celebrate?

When we look at data, it’s important to break it down. If it’s true that the percentage of expat women swings between  just 14%  and 25% (Mercer, 2017; PwC, 2016a; PwC, 2016b), we cannot bypass the significant differences between regions and industry sectors. For example, while expat women in the energy and high tech sectors are only 8-11%, the percentage for the life science sector is 23%. Companies in the service and retail sectors also generally tend to have a higher percentage of women expats. 

Other research (Communicaid, 2017) provides an even more optimistic picture, showing us how the proportion of expat women grew slowly but steadily from 1980s onwards.          

And always on the bright side, among those employees who have already had an international experience, 47% of the female and 53% of the male respondents confirmed they had completed more than one international assignment. In addition, based on their most recent international experience, 84% of women said that they would repeat a similar experience, and 93% state that they would recommend an international assignment to a colleague (PwC, 2016a). 

Last but not least, 73% of women working in Financial Services believe that they have equal opportunities than men to undertake international assignments at their current workplace (PwC, 2016b). This percentage is encouraging in comparison with the 50% of women taking part in the previous year’s millennial survey who believe that promotion is biased towards men (PwC, 2015).

Even with something to celebrate, we shall keep in mind that these variations don’t change the overall conclusions: we are still decades away from seeing this percentage rising to 50%. Predictions show that, in the best case scenario, this will be reached only around 2050 (Mercer, 2017) 

How can you benefit from having a more expat women ? 

1 – You will Facilitate Better Assignment Selection with a Broader Talent Pool 

One of the main mobility cost drivers is related to the limited choice of candidates ready for assignments. By inviting more women to the club, you create more options for your company and indirectly to control costs better. The more good candidates you have, the better will your selection be and the higher the chances that you don’t have to sell an incredibly overpriced assignment package.

2 – You will Record a Higher Assignment Success Rate

The When Women Thrive report highlights that women are perceived to have unique skills that are particularly relevant for expatriation, including flexibility and adaptability (39% vs. 20% who say men have those strengths); inclusive team management (43% vs. 20%); and emotional intelligence (24% vs. 5%.). In short, women tend to build cultural bridges better than men and work in a more sustainable manner.

3 – You will not only Attract, but also Retain Talent

Female demand for international mobility has never been higher than now, with 71% of female millennials wanting to work outside their home country during their careers. Also, 64% of all women interviewed said that international opportunities were critical in attracting them as well as keeping them with an employer (PwC, 2016).

If you want to be successful in attracting and retaining female employees, you need to have a talent brand with international experience as a core element of your employee talent proposition. 

Are you not yet convinced that more expat women provide a huge added value to your company?  In our previous post, we give other proofs of how a more diverse expat population makes you a more profitable and valuable company. 

Seven Obstacles to the Rise of Women in Global Mobility

1 – Strategy

Like the majority of international organizations, you too might be currently challenged with a lack of alignment between Diversity & Inclusion and Global Mobility. This is a crucial issue that you should be working to solve as soon as possible. When goals and data are discussed with Senior Management, Global Mobility Managers need to have a seat at the table. 

2 – Policy

Many Global Mobility policies have originally been developed for male assignees with children and a “trailing” spouse. It’s 2020 and this needs to change. Make sure your policy addresses the issues of expat women and new types of families – single parents for example (the vast majority of them being female), or same-sex couples.

3 – Nomination Process

As we mentioned in our previous post as well, too many times there is still a lack of transparency over who is assigned and why. Companies often don’t have a clear view of those employees who would be willing 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 right candidates. Because of the prevalence of stereotypes that associate women with family, female employees are usually not  even asked even if they would be willing to consider. 

I’ve been there personally as well. 

And if you want to take a small journey into the world of the unconsciously biased HR world, have a look at this insightful article on gender decoding. 

4 –  Non-Diverse Host Locations 

This is probably not such a big issue (apart from a few very critical war zones and dangerous locations). The issue, instead, is the assumption that expat women won’t be accepted because of the fixed gender roles men and women have in the host location. As a matter of fact, expat women in India have automatically 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 you will be treated accordingly. 

5 – Representation

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, there is an issue of lack of awareness at Senior Management level, and this is especially true in traditionally conservative countries.

6 – Lack of Visible Assignment Opportunities for Women

65% of female employees (PwC, 2016a) are still unhappy with the little transparency of their companies over the availability of opportunities for overseas assignments. 

It’s time that you make opportunities readily accessible to all, including underrepresented talent groups!

7  –  Lack of Human Touch 

The lack of Human Touch and/or previous bad Expat Experiences might stop women from actively seeking opportunities for international exposure.

In fact, 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 on this topic. Communicate about role models and success stories.

Six Potential Solutions  for a More Inclusive and Diverse Global Mobility Program 

1- Set Clear Diversity and Inclusion Goals  for Global Mobility

Global Mobility and Diversity and Inclusion teams need to set realistic yet challenging goals for increasing the number of female assignees AND female department heads in Global Mobility. According to KPMG (2018), only 41% of the organizations surveyed had clear D&I objectives in place. Without specific targets nothing will change! 

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 assignment. As I reiterate in The Global Mobility Workbook, Global Mobility should not systematically be synonymous with traditional Long-Term Assignment. In fact, even if those remain the most preferred assignment type by both genders, women favour 6-to-12 months’ assignments more than men (37% vs 29%). The same can be said 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 actually know what the real barriers to inclusive mobility are for your workforce and organizations? If you’ve never measured in which way your current policies hinder women’s mobility, it’s time you 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 Female Role Models

While 68% of men feel that there are enough male role models of successful expats in their organization, only 48% of women feel the same about female role models (PwC, 2016b). This impacts negatively the wider female talent pool of companies and their Global Mobility programs.  If you want to help fill the gap, take active measures to drive awareness of the positive experiences of successful expat women within your organizations. 

At page 24 of this PwC report you can read a short and inspiring testimonial of a Tax Partner and Expat Woman role model. 

5 – Use More Gender-inclusive Language 

Too often Global Mobility policies still refer to their globally mobile workforce with masculine pronouns. At the same time, they would make you assume that Expat or “trailing” Spouses should be female. Well, it’s 2020 and this is not anymore the case. If you want to make your program more inclusive, start from how you address your talent. The UN has recently published new very helpful guidelines that can definitely be useful for your policies too.

6 – Foster a Supportive and Inclusive Culture

It is absolutely critical for your company to move away from the restrictive gender stigmas of the past if you wish to unlock your full global workforce potential. Your ultimate challenge is to create a culture where all your employees are on board with diversity and recognize how valuable this is.

Our message is clear: Global Mobility strategies that do not fully include women will simply not deliver to their full potential.

How we can Help you

If it all makes sense to you but you don’t know where to start from, this is why we’re here. Here are four ideas on how we can help you.

  1. We deconstruct your expat nomination process and review your existing policies for inclusiveness.
  2. We improve the language you use in communication to make them gender-inclusive and we also help you sprinkle them with “Human Touch”.
  3. We conduct an analysis of your Expat Experience and identify unveiled barriers for female expats and their spouses.
  4. We facilitate transition workshops with expat women in the host country, and prepare female candidates for potential expat assignments through our exclusive 1:1 Executive coaching program RockMe!

PS: I want to tell you two more things.

Are you looking for a board member mandate in Switzerland? Have a look at VRMandat and Stitungsratsmandat and check how they can support you.

Look up the above links also if you’re trying to expand your board of directors.

Resources

Read the insights of the 4th edition of the Advance and HSG Gender Intelligence Report.

https://stiftungsratsmandat.com/de/

https://www.vrmandat.com/en/

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 

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. (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

PwC. (2016a). Modern Mobility: Moving women with purpose. PwC. 

https://www.pwc.com/gr/en/publications/assets/modern-mobility-moving-women-with-purpose.pdf

PwC. (2016b). 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 

This is a good example of Women in Global Mobility
Riikka Virtanen Schwitter speaking during the EY “Future of Mobility” event (February 2020)

An Expert Interview by Sara Micacchioni

Prof. Tamara Pawluk is specialized in cognitive diversity and inclusion. She has collaborated with teams designing Diversity and Inclusion campaigns and training teams to leverage diversity potential. Her professional goal is to contribute to any organization where diversity is seen as a key factor to achieve competitive advantages. Interestingly, she also works as Project Manager for Diego Romero Music to support her husband in bringing Argentinian and Latin American music into the European market. 

In early September I  met her in her apartment in Berlin to get inspired by what she does. 

Who is Tamara Pawluk in a nutshell? 

I am an interculturalist by profession and by mindset. I like working with people from different cultural

Headshot
Prof. Tamara Pawluk

backgrounds, I am a curious person and I like to listen to stories. I have the feeling that everyone has a story to tell and that even when they think it’s not interesting, I always find it fascinating. I mean, we’re all protagonists of our lives after all.
I also love learning, not only from books and manuals but especially from people. I love to be amazed by what others do in their professions and act as a connecting bridge between them. 

I’ve been teaching at college for six years. I love doing classes and helping people develop their talent and discovering their potential together. Currently I am mostly dedicated to webinars but I keep teaching within the startup I work for, Expertlead

I am  a very family-oriented person too and love spending time at home with my husband and my friends, playing cards or board games, watching Netflix…or going outside to practice roller skating (and failing miserably) 😉 

Can you tell us a bit more about Expertlead and your projects there? 


Our core business is trying to build a solid network of freelancers. However, we do this in a very human-centric way i.e. guiding them through a professional self-discovery journey and helping them plan their career development. We mostly work with IT professionals: front-end and back-end developers, mobile developers, software development engineers, architects, project managers, designers and data scientists. We try to understand what exactly each of them brings to the table and only then we do the matching. We don’t just feel responsible for ensuring that they get paid for their job, but we also worry that they are performing tasks that they really enjoy.  Besides that, we also do webinars on professional branding, CV improvement, train the trainers, stakeholder management, and soft skills training. 

As the head of freelancer management, I strive to help freelancers be the best versions of themselves.

One of the Diversity and Inclusion projects we’ve just launched is our blog series “Freelancing Women in Tech” about which I am really enthusiastic. We interview female freelancers within the network and discover together their success stories and obstacles they encounter in the IT field as women. 

You can have a look at the blog and at our recent articles where we interview a female iOS developer and a female software engineer

There is a lot of potential in IT when it comes to D&I and we’re trying to get in touch with other associations that might be connected to a wide and diverse talent pool. For example, we’d like to partner with associations for refugees that promote IT educational programs and other initiatives of this kind. If you are one of them, don’t hesitate to get in touch! 

Would you like to share with our readers the learning and career path that brought you to the position you so passionately hold now? 

Well, there are a couple of relevant episodes that really marked my professional development. The first was at the age of 15 when I got into an exchange program with people from around various parts of the world. Thanks to this, I got to spend lots of time with people from Tunisia, South Africa, Russia, you name it. Even if I was “just” a teenager, I was amazed by how much you can learn just by actually allowing yourself to be open to everything. That’s basically how I start to learn from people and about people. This marked me so much that it led me to choose my next degree, a BA in Intercultural Management. 

What other salient events happened next? 

Then I had the opportunity to work as a ghost in a haunted mansion at the famous Disney World Park in Orlando 😉 You might wonder what this has to do with what I do currently but…

There I had a conversation with a colleague of mine that really made me start reflecting about a reality I hadn’t been faced with much until then. And so I started getting curious about the topic of diversity and more in particular about gender and sexual orientation and the role that this plays in identity. This was such an eye-opener that I decided to make Diversity and Inclusion the focus of my PhD, creating a fusion with the topic of Intercultural Management.

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place when I met my husband who is a musician. I want to contextualize this: my parents are doctors and when I entered the field of Social Sciences they thought this was already weird. But what they accepted even less easily was me having a musician as my boyfriend. During this phase, I realised how important the role played by professional identity is in our lives. Now they love him as well as his music.

And so I landed in cognitive diversity, i.e. valuing people for the different ideas that they bring at the table and the different experiences they had in life. This brought me to Talent Management and to Berlin, where I currently live. 

I can really say that being part of an amazing team at Expertlead really enables me to bring together all the different aspects of culture identity in which I am a specialist.

What are the major challenges that you face in your industry? 

When it comes to Talent Management, unconscious bias for me is the main obstacle. Too often, I find that  people very easily allow their own prejudices and pre-formed opinions to shape the situation they’re faced with as well as the idea of the person they have in front. The issue with unconscious bias is that in a few seconds, you’ve made up your mind and from that moment you don’t allow yourself to be wrong anymore. 

But we need to change this and learn to admit that we can be wrong about the first impression. We need to learn to get rid of our assumptions, become better listeners and let the new information come in. This is especially important when you work with diversity.

This is interesting. How do you help people raise awareness about their own issues with unconscious bias?

When I encounter new clients, I always start with the most simple biases. I avoid talking about biases linked to gender, race, sexual orientation etc from the very beginning because they might make it difficult for people to let their barriers down.

I’d like you to run this small social experiment. Next time you’re in a group, just try to draw three boxes on a paper and ask three volunteers in front of you to write three words about diversity on the sheet. What happened? 

I can bet that now all boxes contain a word. But have you actually ever asked them to write the words inside the boxes? If you followed my instructions carefully, you did not. 

Yet, if you try to ask people to explain the reasons why they wrote words inside the boxes, you’ll see that they will struggle a lot finding the answers. And this is what a bias is about: thinking/doing something automatically and without second thoughts.

I tried this each semester for six years, and not in a single group was there a volunteer who did this differently.

That’s brilliant and quite an eye-opener.

Now, what education would you recommend to somebody who would like to embark on a career similar to yours?

Well, I’d start by saying that when you deal with jobs around Intercultural and Talent Management, I think it’s really important to find a good mentor. Follow someone in the field to whom you can relate professionally and let yourself be inspired by what they do. It’s not an easy-to-answer question because we, professionals in the intercultural field, very often have a different background. 

Definitely, here in Europe there are a lot of academic courses you can decide from if you want to study this at university, and having studied in Argentina where options are really limited, I don’t know even half of them. 

I am pretty confident when I say that the field of diversity allows for different career paths and allows you as well to find your own professional identity.

Certificates might open a gate or two but they won’t drive your internal need to make a change. It’s relatively easy to obtain certifications, but the most challenging and most important is finding the inner spark inside. Only this will make you thrive. 

What’s your recipe for success? 

Be yourself and be authentic to who you are. You’re never going to be happy trying to pretend to be someone you’re not. One of my mottos, and this is borrowed from a teacher, is 

“Never stay where you don’t want to be.”

Considering that you probably spend half your existence at work. My tip is, if you have the privilege of deciding where you work, choose well where you want to spend your time.

Is there a final thought you’d like to share with our readers? 

You might not be able to change the world, but if you manage to change only one person, you’ve changed a world.

If you want to be in touch with Prof. Tamara Pawluk you can connect on LinkedIn or write to her on Facebook. You can also subscribe to her Youtube channel.

Tamara is also busy writing her book on Diversity Management which she’ll publish in 2021. Stay tuned! 

About Sara Micacchioni

Sara
Sara Micacchioni

Sara Micacchioni is currently working as Academic Intern at Global People Transitions, where she is responsible for research and quality assurance projects. At the beginning of 2020, she graduated from an international English-taught master degree in Intercultural Management at the University of Burgundy, France. In the past, she also carried out several short-term and long-term voluntary work projects in Europe and South America.

Sara lived, studied, and worked in seven European countries and speaks four foreign languages. She considers herself an interculturalist with a real passion for globetrotting. In her mission to travel the world, she has now ticked off 30 countries globally.

Connect with Sara on LinkedIn if you want to talk about Diversity and Inclusion, Intersectionality, Cultural Intelligence (CQ), Bilingualism, Digital Learning, Immigration or Low-Cost Travels.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-micacchioni/

An Expert Interview by Sara Micacchioni

Interviewee's headshot
Petra

Petra lives in Hamburg and if you meet her in person, you’ll probably notice one of her eighteen shades of blue. Born and raised in Germany, one of her qualities is working in-time, which means to take care of customer’s leadership needs as much as possible in the Here and Now – also and especially when it’s complex and challenging.  She is a Global Leadership Coach and with decades of experience across international Business, NGOs and engagement for Women and Black issues, she has become a specialised Transformation Synergist.


Petra’s mission now is to support GLOBAL WOMEN IN/TO LEADERSHIP. 

But how she got there is a very unconventional story. 

In Africa they say, you know people by their name. And yes, Petra’s name already tells a story.  The german part, her father’s name Sorge, had been widely seen as ‘worry’. When starting to work globally Petra used its second meaning ‘taking care of’. Because that’s what she’s used to doing i.e. taking care of others professionals’ success. After her late marriage with an Afrobrazilian she decided to make her surname a bridge between cultures and became Sorge dos Santos, ‘care of the Saints’.

Petra was a pioneer in her field and  throughout her life she developed a certain focus on learning and teaching. At 21, while she was still studying Adult’s Education she also started her career. Funnily enough, she began teaching a class made up by male ex-soldiers only. Coming from the last only female class of a girls’ high school, at university she early noticed the lack of female professors and the absence of awareness about women’s issues.

She felt tremendously the urge to fill this gap and became one of the founders of  the NGO ‘Hamburg Women’s Week’ – where 260 female experts taught 9000 women in just six days, while the only men inside the university building took care of their children. Subsequently, she founded another NGO, ‘Denk-t-räume’, a women’s center for learning and research. Since then she’s never stopped doing what she loves which is empowering women and  changing the narrative around them. Let’s remember that for as much as the gap in gender equality is still a big issue today, addressing this topic thirty years ago must have been a totally different story. 

After finishing her diploma, she went into the field of professional career training. One of her innovations was to implement coaching sessions, at a time (the late 80s) when coaching was nearly unknown in Germany.

In 1992, she had the luck to meet Michael Grinder, NLP founder John Grinder’s brother. Since he specialised in applying Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) into teaching,  she was highly motivated to deepen her understanding of Neurolearning and two years later obtained a master’s degree in NLP.

In 1986, Brazil came in and changed her life.
She travelled solo for three months which felt like diving into a fascinating new world. A world which fascinated her with her tradition of music and dance but which also challenged her ‘Germanness’.

When she went back to Germany, she became a member of the first women’s foundation. Having lly get to know in person the power and competence of purposeful female leaders from the Global South. Coming back to her country that typically only saw them as needy migrants and that still considered even German women as inferior was quite a challenge. All this finally turned into her today’s identity of Globalista and it fueled her decision to become self-employed: in 1995 she founded CL!C – Crossculture Linking and Consulting. 

Global Leaders who deal with international teams and customers especially need to understand others and the cultural differences they bring at the table.  And this is where her expertise came in: for more than fifteen years, she trained international leaders and their teams to acquire more cultural competencies. This job opened her eyes to what the difficulties in leading with diversity often are.  It also made her perceive how the majority of Western leaders, on average male and 55 years old (in Germany), carry a serious deficit of cultural intelligence (CQ). 

At the same time, she also realised that well-qualified women who grew up, studied and worked in two or more  cultures/countries are very different in this sense. They can adapt to and navigate different cultures more easily. This is one of the reasons why Petra now focuses on what she calls Global Women and their different needs in becoming successful leaders.

 
Petra’s professional life was eventful and rich in changes. After her overseas consultancy had taken her to support women not only in Brazil, but also in the Caribbean and Angola, she became inspired to work on the radio. She created Radio Triangula where she focussed on Africa-Brazil-Hamburg, played nice-to-dance music and introduced to the public global men and women engaged across cultures. Later on she also hosted a local TV program called ‘Hamburgisch by Culture’ where she regularly held biographical interviews with her Hamburg guests. Bringing diversity into the media was quite a good way to balance her other job as a trainer of German male executives.
A serious health issue finally forced her to think her career over and – like she always tells her coachees –  to start focusing on what she really wanted. And that is to make leadership become more global, diverse and female both in quantity and quality.

Her personal goal is to bring all her expertise together in one project. For her, this means she will do more than  COACHING. Her virtual learning together with her trainer background calls for what is state of the art: ONLINE LEARNING.  This is also true for her target group: women who feel home in more than one culture, who don’t only live in Hamburg or Germany and who are definitely spending part of their working/learning time online. Starting her project  in English enables her to realise her vision of CONNECTING across cultures. Thirty years ago she already connected with one another female leaders from the Global South. Now, she wants to connect women who belong to the young generations. Finally, integrating her passion for media, she will talk about her global participants and expert role models through her podcast ‘Leadership Lights’ as well as her ‘Petra Global TV’ starting as a Facebook Live. 


So for her as well as for her participants it’s about “Leading with GUTS”

Example of tagline

What are the main obstacles in the work that Petra so passionately does?

“The main problem with Global Leaders is their lack of self-awareness.” This characteristic is, in fact, often overlooked and regarded as a merely private aspect of a leader’s life. But knowing yourself and being able to lead oneself is fundamental when it comes to working with others, especially in a globalized environment. Nowadays, with the digitalization of company culture, employees need leadership with personality more than ever.

Are you also attracted by the topic of Leadership and/or do you want to become an Intercultural Trainer? 

Then Petra’s main piece of advice for you is to widen your open-mindedness and nurture your curiosity. Her personal secret to success is, whatever career you decide to embark on, go for something you really want, do not follow the path someone else paved for you.

If you’re a student, you can choose courses in Cross-Cultural Management / Intercultural Communication led by professionals from the field.
If you’re already in international business you should consider taking a professional qualification on top. Aside from that, Petra believes that only by DOING you become an actual coach and trainer.  

Finally, let’s look at Petra’s recommended books: 

  • ‘Das Rebellische Eigentum’ by Peter Martin –the rebellious property. A Study on enslaved Africans, showing their many facets of rebellion, right from the start. 
  • I love myself when I’m laughing by Zora Neale Hurston – An anthology of the intellectual and spiritual foremother of the next generation of black writers.
  • ‘Dare to Lead’ by Brené Brown – a female reframe of Leadership by a famous TED speaker who pleads for starting from vulnerability.

Petra’s whole life has formed her into the global synergist of transformation that she is today. Her breakthrough program for Global women that she is promoting at the moment is called ‘Leading with GUTS’.
While combining a global mindset-work with understanding and including others and transformation with self-Awareness, it covers three parts of online leadership learning in this sequence: 1. Leading Self 2. Global Competence 3. Leading Others
If you are interested, register for her free challenge ‘Smartly Overcoming Leadership Barriers’. If you want to start on a smaller scale her Leading Self Kickoff might be interesting for you.

Example of an Online Challenge

Do you find Petra’s story as interesting and exciting as I did? Do you want to drop her a personal message? You can contact her via email or you can visit her website or podcast Leadership Lights. Or you can listen to Radio Triangular, live stream every fourth Saturday of the month at 5 PM CET. 


In order to support this  B2C-approach she is looking for partnerships which might also extend to a B2B-trainee program inside companies. The best way to contact her is via  LinkedIn.

 

About Sara Micacchioni

Sara
Sara Micacchioni

Sara Micacchioni is currently working as Academic Intern at Global People Transitions, where she is responsible for research and quality assurance projects. At the beginning of 2020, she graduated from an international English-taught master degree in Intercultural Management at the University of Burgundy, France. In the past, she also carried out several short-term and long-term voluntary work projects in Europe and South America.

Sara lived, studied, and worked in seven European countries and speaks four foreign languages. She considers herself an interculturalist with a real passion for globetrotting. In her mission to travel the world, she has now ticked off 30 countries globally.

Connect with Sara on LinkedIn if you want to talk about Diversity and Inclusion, Intersectionality, Cultural Intelligence (CQ), Bilingualism, Digital Learning, Immigration or Low-Cost Travels.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-micacchioni/

Guest post by ANGELINE LICERIO

Discrimination of any kind should be unacceptable in any given situation. Gender discrimination, on the other hand, takes this to another notch, especially in the workplace. The sad reality is that gender discrimination still happens in most hiring processes. I found this surprising, and no wonder if you’re shocked too: in light of our new global situation, those who work remotely also experience gender discrimination. An article published by Harvard Business Review has highlighted that women are viewed by employers to be carrying out more domestic responsibilities, while men are seen to be more career-oriented and likely to expand their work spheres. Another article published by Forbes suggests that men are more likely to put in extra overtime on work tasks, while women pick up the slack with more domestic duties.

So, is gender a factor when hiring a remote employee? The short and definitive answer is “no”. The decision to hire a worker should be based on how they fit the role and how they can contribute to the growth of the organisation. Hiring an employee, especially for a remote position, should always be based on merits, qualifications, and skills.

Is Gender Discrimination Still Happening?

Gender issues in the workplace still happen, and it’s a proven fact. Women and men both get discriminated against when it comes to work, especially remotely. Some employers would often put in their job posting that they only hire women or men for specific roles. This is not illegal just across the whole European Union (Directive 2006/54/EC), but also in many other more authoritarian countries and notably less egalitarian countries. Hence, you might be shocked to read this. Human Rights Watch spotted “men only”, “suitable for men” or the like on thousands of job descriptions in China, despite this being illegal there as well. Read the report here.

While this may be the case, we should also highlight that there are a lot of companies that look past gender differences and many leaders genuinely respect a person for his or her achievements at work. More people have the utmost respect for both women and men in the workplace because of their contributions to their respective fields.

A Different Approach

Hiring remote employees, whether a single one or a full team, requires not only the right skill sets but their ability to work in an unsupervised working environment. Remote work has a lot of merits. At the top of that is more savings timewise and moneywise, which makes this option very attractive to both employers and employees. Remote workers are also not bound by geographic locations, which means that an employer looking to hire has a massive pool of talent at his disposal. 

Let’s now look at the skills that make remote workers more employable regardless of their genders.

Self-discipline

A remote employee needs to be able to work with minimal supervision, and being male or female has no bearing on this whatsoever.  Remote workers need to block and manage their time for and focus their energy on work when it is time to. Great employees need to be on the clock without anyone telling them to do so, and this should be among the top considerations when looking to hire remote workers. This quality is never gender-related – it is either a person has self-discipline or not.

Strong, Above-average Communication Skills

Having average communication skills will never be enough for a remote worker because communication is a crucial element for a successful remote-based work. In this case, a person can have excellent communication skills regardless of sex. There is no workaround for not having above-average communication skills in a remote working environment. 

For one, a remote employee would need to be in constant communication with their teammates and their direct supervisors. Instructions will likely be over calls, emails, and video conferences. Average communication skills help when you’re working with someone face to face, but you will need to be an excellent communicator to thrive in the remote work environment.

Remote workers need to have the extra sensitivity to listen and hear what is actually being said in an email or telephone conversation. It would take above average communication skills to read between the lines of an email and to pick up the nuances in a conversation.

Troubleshooting Skills

The ability to troubleshoot not only work-related problems concerning clients but also technical and business continuity problems are crucial when it comes to working remotely. Remember that when a person works remotely, there is no IT department to support them round the clock. A remote worker should, at the very least, have rudimentary troubleshooting skills when it comes to networks and computers. Without this, simple installation or a simple network problem can cause delays in their deliverables.

Troubleshooting does not always mean technical problems, but it is also about finding out the root cause of a problem. We need not to reiterate it, but troubleshooting skills are never dependent on the gender of the employee.

Have Reliable Judgment

Some would say that this is part of having troubleshooting skills, but for us, having a reliable judgment is completely separate. It comes very handy whenever decisions have to be made without the help of a team or a committee. A person who has great judgement, whether male or female, can make decisions that will affect the business he or she is representing as a whole.

The ability to rely on themselves and weigh their options well is one rare but necessary skill to have as a remote worker. 

In Closing

Hiring remote employees brings a lot of benefits to the table. Apart from more productivity and motivation, the company can save money and get higher quality output in the long run. This is why gender should never be a cause for someone’s disqualification.

It is unfortunate that this topic even exists and that we feel the need to enumerate the right qualifications for hiring a remote employee. Gender ultimately has no bearing on the effectiveness of a remote worker to do their jobs well. Any company that uses gender to segregate their employees should rethink their hiring process if they want to thrive in their chosen industry. Being male or female has nothing to do with a person’s ability to succeed in their jobs, be it remote or not.

How the Author Defines a Remote Worker

In this article, the author refers to remote workers as anyone who works outside of a traditional office environment. They can be working from home, working from a coworking space, at a coffee shop, etc.

Resources and further reading

Guest post by ANGELINE LICERIO

Discrimination of any kind should be unacceptable in any given situation. Gender discrimination, on the other hand, takes this to another notch, especially in the workplace. The sad reality is that gender discrimination still happens in most hiring processes. I found this surprising, and no wonder if you’re shocked too: in light of our new global situation, those who work remotely also experience gender discrimination. An article published by Harvard Business Review has highlighted that women are viewed by employers to be carrying out more domestic responsibilities, while men are seen to be more career-oriented and likely to expand their work spheres. Another article published by Forbes suggests that men are more likely to put in extra overtime on work tasks, while women pick up the slack with more domestic duties.

So, is gender a factor when hiring a remote employee? The short and definitive answer is “no”. The decision to hire a worker should be based on how they fit the role and how they can contribute to the growth of the organisation. Hiring an employee, especially for a remote position, should always be based on merits, qualifications, and skills.

Is Gender Discrimination Still Happening?

Gender issues in the workplace still happen, and it’s a proven fact. Women and men both get discriminated against when it comes to work, especially remotely. Some employers would often put in their job posting that they only hire women or men for specific roles. This is not illegal just across the whole European Union (Directive 2006/54/EC), but also in many other more authoritarian countries and notably less egalitarian countries. Hence, you might be shocked to read this. Human Rights Watch spotted “men only”, “suitable for men” or the like on thousands of job descriptions in China, despite this being illegal there as well. Read the report here.

While this may be the case, we should also highlight that there are a lot of companies that look past gender differences and many leaders genuinely respect a person for his or her achievements at work. More people have the utmost respect for both women and men in the workplace because of their contributions to their respective fields.

A Different Approach

Hiring remote employees, whether a single one or a full team, requires not only the right skill sets but their ability to work in an unsupervised working environment. Remote work has a lot of merits. At the top of that is more savings timewise and moneywise, which makes this option very attractive to both employers and employees. Remote workers are also not bound by geographic locations, which means that an employer looking to hire has a massive pool of talent at his disposal.

Let’s now look at the skills that make remote workers more employable regardless of their genders.

Self-discipline

A remote employee needs to be able to work with minimal supervision, and being male or female has no bearing on this whatsoever.  Remote workers need to block and manage their time for and focus their energy on work when it is time to. Great employees need to be on the clock without anyone telling them to do so, and this should be among the top considerations when looking to hire remote workers. This quality is never gender-related – it is either a person has self-discipline or not.

Strong, Above-average Communication Skills

Having average communication skills will never be enough for a remote worker because communication is a crucial element for a successful remote-based work. In this case, a person can have excellent communication skills regardless of sex. There is no workaround for not having above-average communication skills in a remote working environment.

For one, a remote employee would need to be in constant communication with their teammates and their direct supervisors. Instructions will likely be over calls, emails, and video conferences. Average communication skills help when you’re working with someone face to face, but you will need to be an excellent communicator to thrive in the remote work environment.

Remote workers need to have the extra sensitivity to listen and hear what is actually being said in an email or telephone conversation. It would take above average communication skills to read between the lines of an email and to pick up the nuances in a conversation.

Troubleshooting Skills

The ability to troubleshoot not only work-related problems concerning clients but also technical and business continuity problems are crucial when it comes to working remotely. Remember that when a person works remotely, there is no IT department to support them round the clock. A remote worker should, at the very least, have rudimentary troubleshooting skills when it comes to networks and computers. Without this, simple installation or a simple network problem can cause delays in their deliverables.

Troubleshooting does not always mean technical problems, but it is also about finding out the root cause of a problem. We need not to reiterate it, but troubleshooting skills are never dependent on the gender of the employee.

Have Reliable Judgment

Some would say that this is part of having troubleshooting skills, but for us, having a reliable judgment is completely separate. It comes very handy whenever decisions have to be made without the help of a team or a committee. A person who has great judgement, whether male or female, can make decisions that will affect the business he or she is representing as a whole.

The ability to rely on themselves and weigh their options well is one rare but necessary skill to have as a remote worker.

In Closing

Hiring remote employees brings a lot of benefits to the table. Apart from more productivity and motivation, the company can save money and get higher quality output in the long run. This is why gender should never be a cause for someone’s disqualification.

It is unfortunate that this topic even exists and that we feel the need to enumerate the right qualifications for hiring a remote employee. Gender ultimately has no bearing on the effectiveness of a remote worker to do their jobs well. Any company that uses gender to segregate their employees should rethink their hiring process if they want to thrive in their chosen industry. Being male or female has nothing to do with a person’s ability to succeed in their jobs, be it remote or not.

How the Author Defines a Remote Worker

In this article, the author refers to remote workers as anyone who works outside of a traditional office environment. They can be working from home, working from a coworking space, at a coffee shop, etc.

Resources and further reading

Read the insights of the 4th edition of the Advance and HSG Gender Intelligence Report.

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/?s=Tips+for+Managing+an+International+Workforce

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/?s=Values+in+Global+Virtual+Teams

https://cdn.gendereconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-and-gender-GATE-policy-brief-.pdf

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11205-018-2025-x

References 

Ibarra H., Gillard J., Chamorro-Premuzic T. (2020, July 16). ‘Why WFH isn’t necessarily good for women’. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved August 14, 2020 from https://hbr.org/2020/07/why-wfh-isnt-necessarily-good-for-women

Stauffer, B. (2018, April 23). ‘Only Men Apply’, Human Rights Watch. Retrieved August 14, 2020, from https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/04/23/only-men-need-apply/gender-discrimination-job-advertisements-china

Gaskell A. (2020, April 1). ‘Breaking Down The Gender Divide To Survive Working From Home’. Forbes. Retrieved 2020, August 14 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/adigaskell/2020/04/01/breaking-down-the-gender-divide-to-survive-working-from-home/#7996063720cf

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/?s=Tips+for+Managing+an+International+Workforce

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/?s=Values+in+Global+Virtual+Teams

https://cdn.gendereconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-and-gender-GATE-policy-brief-.pdf

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11205-018-2025-x

References 

Ibarra H., Gillard J., Chamorro-Premuzic T. (2020, July 16). ‘Why WFH isn’t necessarily good for women’. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved August 14, 2020 from https://hbr.org/2020/07/why-wfh-isnt-necessarily-good-for-women

Stauffer, B. (2018, April 23). ‘Only Men Apply’, Human Rights Watch. Retrieved August 14, 2020, from https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/04/23/only-men-need-apply/gender-discrimination-job-advertisements-china

Gaskell A. (2020, April 1). ‘Breaking Down The Gender Divide To Survive Working From Home’. Forbes. Retrieved 2020, August 14 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/adigaskell/2020/04/01/breaking-down-the-gender-divide-to-survive-working-from-home/#7996063720cf 

Author’s Bio

Author's headshotAngeline Licerio is a content writer for Elevate Corporate Training. Like the rest of her teammates at Elevate, Angeline believes that she can help create better bottom lines, happier and healthier staff and build communities where people engage with each other in high functioning relationships.  

Here is her LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/angeline-licerio-2a3406107/


We have been living in a world dominated by political and economic uncertainty for many years now. However, 2020 is proving to be a particularly exceptional and tough year and, in its first few months, it had already brought the entire planet down to its knees. The global health crisis caused by Covid-19 has basically impacted all aspects of life and radically changed the way we work. Obviously, the world of Global Mobility was also greatly disrupted.  Considered the extent of the impact caused by the crisis, it doesn’t take a fortune teller to foresee that Global Mobility teams will suffer the blow of the crisis in the years to come.

However, it’s not all bad news. Global Mobility teams continue to prove to be incredibly resilient and are constantly coming  up with immediate and particularly creative solutions to face issues that arise overnight. Imagine the difficulty of having to suddenly repatriate an expat (or an expat family) who was temporarily on holiday in a third country and remains stuck there without any other assistance. Or the complexity of finding a quick solution for someone who was about to go on assignment but suddenly had to postpone the departure, despite all their household goods having already been shipped to the host location. 

In the next few lines, we will briefly outline the top eight Global Mobility trends to watch in 2020.

1 – GM will continue to diversify Assignment Types in guidelines

A constantly changing and diverse population like today’s requires closer alignment between mobility types and support levels, but also more flexibility and agility. The graph below represents the evolution of GM through the latest decades and particularly highlights the need for more flexible mobility types in 2020s, as envisioned by Deloitte (2019) and FIDI (2019).

Predictably, there will be more variety in the range of mobility locations as well. The “global approach”, which Global Mobility has seen increase over time, will become the leading type of move. 

If LTAs remain an important and widely used relocation model, it is also true that the deployment of shorter and more flexible approaches, such as STAs, business trips, immersive experiences and commuter models are constantly gaining traction (Deloitte, 2019). A GAPP Survey from KPMG (2019) confirms the same trend, with survey participants expecting to rely more on shorter duration assignments such as extended business trips (56%), STAs (75%) and developmental/training assignments (46%) over the next five years. On the other hand, a reduction in the use of traditional LTAs (51% is expected).

Companies increasingly make use of technology tools to avoid physically moving people across borders. This trend has become increasingly popular especially during the current 2020 pandemic and is bound to grow steadily thanks to the broad availability of improved real-time communication tools, video conferencing and even Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. These technologies are already being used to transform the employee on-boarding experience into the company and can be used to virtually meet colleagues in other countries, constituting new collaboration tools. Lastly, employees can virtually immerse themselves into new cities before deciding whether to move to another city.

 

The GM function has already increased its involvement in activities such as international recruitment,  global talent acquisition and location strategy, which includes attracting talent to remote locations as mentioned in this report from Stiftung Zukunft.li. According to Deloitte (2019), it will continue diversifying its scope in 2020 and beyond, and those additional responsibilities will keep strengthening the role that GM plays as talent enabler, strategic business partner and employee coach. 

2 – GM will need to be more flexible in dealing with the needs of a diverse workforce

For a GM program to be successful, it needs to work well both for the organisation and the expats. But having a policy both flexible and defined enough to be used as the foundation for any mobility scenario is a big challenge even for the most evolved GM programs, as recent data from Mercer’s Flexible Mobility Policies Survey report.

Flexibility has dominated HR headlines for several years. In fact, it continues to be a trending topic, driven by a number of factors such as a constantly changing expat population and assignment types, employee expectations, modern technologies and tools, but also the new unexpected global halt caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is acting as a stress test of flexible policies and raising important questions in flexibility debate (Mercer). Let us look at all those aspects in more detail.

Expat population and assignment types

Although a traditional LTA is also women’s favoured choice (53% of , shorter and more flexible STA are notably more popular among women than men. Did you know that? The proportion of men and women who prefer these short-term options are as follows. Frequent business travel, but based in home country: men 30% and women 37%; fly-in/fly-out commuter assignment: men 20% and women 21%;  very short-term assignment (less than six months): men 16% and women 27%;  short-term (6–12 months): men 33% and women 39% (PwC, 2016).

Nowadays, a more diverse population than ever is embarking on International Assignments. Employees are more diverse in cultural backgrounds, family situation, age, etc. and it is basically impossible to address all the needs of these diverse groups into a one-size-fits all policy.

Employee expectations

Picture this scenario: a leading multinational company needs to select somebody with the right skills to establish their first overseas division and they 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 said she was really shocked about not being even consulted on the decision that leadership took. Her husband and she wanted to get the wedding out of the way so that she could pursue her dream of going on an international assignment. But it all worked out for her in the end: she is now working overseas for one of their competitors and is very happy in her role.

George knew that he was going to have to embark on an international assignment at some point. However, the company’s decision really came at the worst time. His wife and he were about to tell their families about their first baby. But he still said yes to the opportunity and eventually convinced her wife to try that out, but it was very tough on her and she ended up being sick through the whole pregnancy. When the baby was born, she had no support network. This situation also impacted his performance which was much lower than back home. For this reason, the company decided to bring him back. 

A more diverse workforce equals a larger variety of individual assignees’ expectations, with the result that if a proposition is very attractive for one employee it might be not appealing at all for another. This is clearly pinpointed by the 2018 How Global Mobility is Responding to New Dilemmas Survey: expectations from millennial generation employees are impacting mobility programs for 43% of surveyed companies, while the aging workforce has 36% of companies re-evaluating their program policies.

Technology

Today more than ever, technology is a great aid tool for managing assignee package creating and makes it possible for expat management teams to stay in close communicative touch with their expats abroad. The impact of technological and digital innovation on Global Mobility will be discussed more in detail later on.

 

Meaningful analyses and reports that evaluate the efficacy of mobility programs are now easier to obtain.

According to the Mercer 2019 Flexible Mobility Policies Survey, 37% of the companies already consider their current mobility policies flexible, and 43% hope to introduce some flexibility to their mobility policies and practices. On the other hand, around 20% do not include and do not intend to introduce flexibility in their mobility policies.

The primary benefits listed by the participants of the Flexible Mobility Policies Survey (Mercer, 2019) who intend to introduce more flexible policies are making packages more valuable for assignees and reducing exception requests. Driving cost efficiency was only 3rd in the list of most expected benefits companies think they will see. Interestingly, among the 56% of the companies who acknowledged the (perceived) benefits of the flexible packages they entail, more than two thirds indicated that their flexible policies also resulted in cost efficiency. 

The most popular policy elements for which participants introduced flexibility are family-related: housing, spousal support, child education, and home leave tickets are all items that can help improve the Expat Experience while on assignment.

With the crisis, the importance of duty of care over excessive flexibility was acknowledged: policies should not be made flexible if they are essential for the wellbeing of employees. Flexible policies have prepared some companies to deal more efficiently with urgent repatriations and unforeseen mobility scenarios. Other companies adopting flexible policies have found them inapplicable and inappropriate in the context of urgency. Once the emergency is over, it is imperative to evaluate which flexible policies have proved effective and which ones were incompatible with duty of care.

Not packages, but rather work arrangements was what benefited the most in terms of flexibility during the crisis. In fact, organisations were compelled to find enough flexibility to allow their mobile employees to do home office, sometimes even in a different country than the assignment country. A remarkable stress was put on business continuity and resilience at the forefront, leaving employee lifestyle and preferences in the background.

3 – Dual-Career Expat Couples 

The 2017 Worldwide Survey of International Assignment Policies & Practices (WIAPP) survey report pinpointed dual-career/family-related issues and cost as the main barriers to mobility. Similarly, the expected advantages of a flexible mobility program were also closely related to these issues. Also the report published by Crown (2019) highlights the same issue. But if this is not a new phenomenon, why is it considered a megatrend to watch in 2020?

Because many more households, globally, rely on two salaries. This means that when an employee is asked to take on an international assignment, the economic impact on the family is greater than in the past. As a consequence, an increasing number of companies are struggling with the challenges posed by the dual-career demographic and they are in search of creative solutions. 

To deal with the dual-career factor, companies have put in place several strategies. Many have put in place policies to support split-families, offering more frequent home leave. However, this is generally limited to 12-24 months, after which the employee runs a higher risk of suffering from burnout with a negative impact on work productivity as well. Another solution is the increase of commuter assignments especially across the EU where distances are limited. The downside of this could be that after some time, the commuter status will impact the employee and their family, as well as the morale of the team in the home and host location. Another strategy, the one for which we advocate, is putting Expat Spouse support at the core of GM policies. According to Crown’s 2019 Policy and Practices report, today, only 56% of companies address spouse/partner assistance. The most standard support comes in the form of reimbursements for job search assistance, professional affiliations and credential maintenance.

4 – GM will learn to facilitate and organize “Virtual Assignments”

The first trend highlighting the continuous diversification of GM also encompasses a higher number of Virtual Assignments. Differently than managers who oversee a region or frequent Business Travelers who might occasionally be involved in operations abroad from remote, a virtual assignee does remotely the same job as an assignee who has relocated to the host country. 

The COVID-19 crisis is changing all the debate around the possibilities of home office and Virtual Assignments since never in history have so many employees worked remotely in order to guarantee essential business continuity. Obviously, Virtual Assignments also raise a lot of new questions. However, Mercer suggests that if they are implemented at a great extent, they could present opportunities beyond the end of the crisis and will lead to companies having to reassess what is meant by GM.

Virtual mobility does not necessarily imply that employees remain in the home country while being responsible for operations in other locations. It can also mean allowing employees to work in a third country of choice (not the home country or the location benefiting from the task performed). Implementing a larger number of Virtual Assignments also means acknowledging and accepting that working arrangements are changing fast in response to technology, generational changes, and sudden business disruptions. 

Of course, as Mercer points out, there are limits, the most obvious of which is the fact that not all jobs can be performed from remote, and that is also one of the reasons why virtual mobility will not replace traditional mobility. Another barrier, and potential risk, can be presented by tax and compliance issues. A further obstacle can also simply be that the company has no existing operations and no wish to have a Permanent Establishment in the location where the employee would like to be based. Last but not least, some organizations are concerned that Virtual Assignments could hinder company culture and teamwork, with the risk for the employee to feel a perpetual outsider. The final point worth considering is that cost saving is not necessarily automatic: in case the assignee wants to live in a high-cost country, there could be additional costs. 

It is now easier to see how the popularity of virtual mobility is closely related to the increase of a more dispersed international workforce. As companies upgrade their technology and become more agile, they could decide to assign projects and tasks to mobile people rather than moving defined jobs as such. In other words, instead of trying to fit assignees into predefined boxes, the aim is to manage a diverse workforce in a more fluid and coordinated way (Mercer). 

Moving jobs to people instead of moving people to jobs is not going to substitute the traditional way of thinking GM, but it is one more tool that companies can use in their global operations. In fact, we live in an era in which recruitment is not limited by geography, and hiring can occur in any global location to fill open positions. As organizations gradually embrace best practices to manage a distributed international workforce, it will be essential for Global Mobility teams to adapt to a new way of thinkinking and to learn to implement virtual assignments successfully. 

The COVID-19 crisis has perhaps exposed even more the weaknesses and inconsistencies in current mobility management practices in relation to talent mobility. And if, on the one hand, it shows the limit of rigid organization policies, on the other, it also forces HR teams to be more creative and agile in addressing the business’s needs and assisting assignees. The hope is that talent mobility professionals will indeed retain some of this reactivity born out of the crisis as to be in a good position to help organizations recover in the post-crisis times. 

5 – GM Managers will expand their skills and become more agile 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, multi-skilling is “the practice of training employees to do several different things, or of using employees who can do several different things”, or, in other words, the ability to master a wide range of skills relevant for different types of functions and jobs. Research from Hershbein and Khan (2018) provide broad-based evidence of how firms demand even more upskilling from workers when the local economy suffers a recession. Thus, this practice is likely to be even more useful in the aftermath of the crisis, when more agility will be required in all areas of business. 

The future of work is skill-driven and the expansion of the gig economy brings proof to the statement. Since organizations are becoming more flatter and more digital, corporate positions or job titles will not matter as much as skills and the capacity to update and renew these skills. 

Mercer listed a series of skills that will matter for talent mobility professionals and that will contribute to more relevant and strategic for the organizations. Below is a summary.

Now more than ever global mobility teams are asked to be advisers to the business and to help anticipate risks and compliance issues. Mobility professionals should basically function as bridges between departments and geographies and serve as facilitators to coordinate arising issues. One possibility is that the mobility functions will be gradually more oriented towards consultancy. In one sentence, Global Mobility teams need to master compliance issues.

Another necessary step will be making sure that the basics are in place in terms of metrics and cost tracking, but what really makes the difference for HR professionals will be the ability to turn the results of newly developed metrics into concrete suggestions to improve people management.

It is also fundamental that mobility professionals are able to speak the same language as general management and finance and that they have the capacity to link mobility with compelling business cases.

Another crucial point Global Mobility teams need to  bring to the top of their agendas is developing the ability to be good storytellers. Explaining the bigger story behind talent mobility and to what extent employees’ tasks relate (even distantly) to the overall economy and the society’s well being is a differentiator. Storytelling is also about being able to summarize clearly what the main principles underlying the mobility program policy are or what the very mobility program entails. 

Today we live in an unprecedented abundance of information. Making sense of the information or where to find the information is not the problem anymore. The crucial issue is determining which data are true and relevant and how they should be interpreted in order to draw relevant conclusions for the business. Another objective for GM professionals is to have a role to play in the digitalization of companies and to become more familiar with the concepts and technologies revolving around AI.In other words, develop statistical and technology literacy.

Last but not least, now that companies diversify more and more their compensation approaches, Global Mobility professionals need to dig deeper into Expat base pay, benefits, short-term and long-term incentives as to have a wider financial understanding of the implications of an international move. It’s time to broaden reward skills. 

6 – The Human Touch will be the key to successful Global Mobility programs

According to Deloitte (2019), mobility professionals rank Expat Experience as top strategic priority. For employees, this results in a heightened focus on wellbeing, development and recognition. At the same time, Expats have started perceiving global mobility differently and if they once used to see compensation as the primary incentive for global relocations, they now tend to value a human‑centric global mobility experience providing validation on both a personal and professional level. Nowadays the global workforce is attracted and motivated by a more personalised, agile and holistic experience which predictably results in a better relationship between employees and employer.

Deloitte has come up with three actions to ‘humanise’ global mobility, namely setting people at the center of the mobility experience; making mobility more personal than other aspects of the talent lifecycle; and building the experience around the specific person going on assignment.

Enhancing the Expat Experience has been on top of the priority list of many employers for quite some time. However, it would be unfair to deny that too often, it is difficult to prioritize it if teams are too busy focusing on the many operational aspects of the mobility program. 

As a matter of fact, a well designed human‑centric global mobility program does not simply consider employee needs, but also takes into account the rest of the stakeholders involved. Deloitte predicts that enhancing Expat Experience will keep being a key priority focus area for many leaders in the years to come. Organisations who wish to embrace a human-centred global mobility program successfully should focus on the following four core aspects:

  • Operational Support. Structure of operations, and satisfaction with external vendors.
  • Financial Welfare.  Rewards, benefits and other support provided to the employee. 
  • Professional Engagement.  Successful integration into the host location, and career progression.
  • Expat Well Being. Employee resilience, and focus outside of work life.

The COVID-19 crisis has particularly highlighted the very last aspect of the above list, Expat Well Being. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends, 80% of the respondents identified well being as an important priority for their organization’s success over the next 12-18 months, making it this year’s top trend for importance. Yet, only 12% feel “very ready” to address this issue, meaning that there is clearly a “readiness gap”.  Expat Well Being definitely does not stop to healthcare considerations and should not be a priority only during emergencies.  It also entails social, emotional and financial aspects, in other words, areas in which highly mobile employees are automatically more at risk. Factors such as stress, mental health, family and financial issues, but also demotivation and failed assignments should put the mobility team on full alert. There is no doubt that the current crisis is pushing companies to accelerate their strategies to ameliorate Expat Well Being, potentially enabling a better work-life balance. In fact, the investments made towards an improved well being come with valid reasons: burnout impacts employee retention, employees with higher well-being are more likely to feel engaged at work and recommend their organizations, and, to some extent, well being drives organizational performance (Deloitte, 2020).

7 – Harder immigration compliance 

Even before this global pandemic, the waiting time organizations had to face before holding all the authorizations required for an employee to travel abroad for business were becoming increasingly longer. The quicker visa to obtain, that for short-term business travels, are not intended for productive work or long-term assignments, and many countries are more actively enforcing measures against illegal employment, with a larger number of employees having not only to pay pricey fines but to undergo criminal punishments. 

Problems only increase when the employee is accompanied by dependents who travel on a holiday visa and then try to find a job in the new host country or get a local driver’s license. 

Undoubtedly, the unexpected crisis caused by the widespread presence of COVID-19 will make immigration compliance an even more complicated matter for organisations wanting to send their employees abroad, repatriate or transfer them to a third country. 

In a world where business travel, secondments and overseas relocations are routine, the resulting level of disruption caused by the restrictions on movement that governments set in place to combat the spread of the pandemic is unprecedented. With companies working hard to prioritise their staff well being, another whole set of legal challenges arise. In such a rapidly changing scenario, it is not uncommon for mobile employees to remain stranded in their host country or a transit country or to risk overstaying their visa. Some of the measures that governments around the world are enacting are temporary but others could have a more negative effect on business in the near future. Two measures in particular could have a more long lasting impact on Global Mobility: 

  1. Entry restrictions and an increased number of admission criteria for certain countries, including bans on some high-risk locations.
  2. Heightened eligibility criteria and application requirements where visas are being issued, including suspension of visa waiver agreements and more detailed document requirements for new applications.

8 – Digital Innovation

In the past 24 months, many organizations have put a major focus both on digitisation (moving to more digital formats) and digitalisation (strategically shifting to digital processes and activities) of the mobility function. According to Deloitte and Fidi, this will continue being a global trend in 2020 as well. One of the biggest challenges of Global Mobility will be to bring digital innovation at the core of companies’ business models, evaluating how the technology available today can augment their human workforce. 

Companies’ level of ‘digital engagement’ obviously depends on how “digitally mature” their global mobility programs already are. Some might be just  ‘exploring digital’, using robotics to carry out simple and repetitive tasks,while others might be already ‘becoming digital’ with a formal digital strategy set in place. 

Automation

Mobility functions are already experiencing success where this technology is implemented to perform tasks that humans would normally be assigned, such as ending routine emails or copying and pasting information from public or private sources. In turn, workers can be repurposed to high value tasks for the benefit for the mobility function. By adopting and introducing those techniques  into existing processes, Global Mobility teams will be able to focus on diminishing costs, increase productivity by improving operational efficiency, and retain talent. In fact, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology is already being used to speed up administrative/transactional processes in mobility functions. Equally important is that automation can also reveal itself crucial in reducing hierarchical thinking.

Workplace tools

Core office technologies such as telephone, word processing platforms and email have already evolved as to expand the possibilities of connected and collaborative working. Employees can now access the latest information, join video conferences, share and work on the same documents or workspace at their convenience, from a device and location of their choice. The next generation of workplace tools will create even more opportunities in areas such as collaboration, training and learning, and it will as well provide business leaders the opportunity to deliver a better experience to their teams and assignees. Even more importantly, new ‘digital learning’ means that organizations will be able to make fun what is hard stuff in life. For instance, Augmented and Virtual  Reality (AR and VR respectively), can be used to transform the employee’s onboarding experience into the organisation, or it can provide the possibility to meet and collaborate with colleagues in other countries. Additionally, it can be used as well to virtually recreate cities so that one can immerse oneself in the new environment before deciding to move there.

Artificial Intelligence

According to Deloitte (2020), AI is projected to add US$13 trillion to the global economy over the next decade. Thus, it is no wonder that in their 2020 Global Human Capital Trends Survey, 70% of the respondents stated that their organizations were exploring or using AI to some extent. At this point, the question is not anymore whether AI will affect jobs, but rather how. As a matter of fact, reducing costs by replacing workforce with AI technology is not the only viable path: 60% of the surveyed (Deloitte, 2020) organizations are using AI to assist rather than replace workers. 

By using smart devices to predict, detect and prevent risks in moving people around the globe, AI is already helping organisations to go beyond traditional ways of managing the global workforce. With the huge increase of the data volume available to organisations, the emergence of advanced AI-based algorithms and the growing availability of data scientists, systems become increasingly self-managing and potentially self-defending against risks.  

 

Resources (Websites)

https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/insights/article/2020-buzzwords-and-what-they-tell-us-about-mobility

https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/insights/article/virtual-assignments-cultural-and-inclusion-issues

https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/insights/article/the-rise-of-virtual-assignments https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/insights/article/assessing-the-feasibility-of-virtual-assignments-a-checklist

https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/insights/article/delivering-flexibility 

https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/Insights/article/Global-mobility-policy-flexibility-in-practice

https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/solutions/data-solutions/policies-and-practices-surveys/flexible-mobility-policies-survey

https://www.imercer.com/products/WorldwideIAPP

https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/Insights/article/Upskilling-the-Mobility-Function

Books and Reports

Baker McKenzie. (2019). ‘The Global Employer: Focus on Global Immigration and Mobility.’ Baker McKenzie. Retrieved May 27, 2020, from https://www.bakermckenzie.com/en-/media/files/insight/publications/2019/12/the-global-employer-focus-on-immigration-and-mobility_041219.pdf

Beck, P., Eisenhut, P. and Thomas, L. (2018). „Fokus Arbeitsmarkt: Fit für di Zukunft?”. Stiftung Zukunft.li. Retrieved 28 May, 2020, from https://www.stiftungzukunft.li/publikationen/fokus-arbeitsmart-fit-fuer-die-zukunft 

Bertolino, M. (2020). ‘How Covid-19 is disrupting immigration policies and worker mobility: a tracker’. Ernst and Young. Retrieved May 28, 2020, from https://www.ey.com/en_gl/tax/how-covid-19-is-disrupting-immigration-policies-and-worker-mobility-a-tracker

Hauri, D., Eisenhut, P., and Lorenz T. (2016). „Knacknuss Wachstum und Zuwanderung: Hintergründe unde Zusammenhange.” Stiftung Zukunft.li. Retrieved 28 May, 2020, from Knacknuss Wachstum und Zuwanderung

Robb, A., Frewin, K. and Jagger, P. (2017a). ‘Global Workforce Trends: The Impact of the Digital Age on Global Mobility.’ Deloitte. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/tax/deloitte-uk-global-mobility-trends-latest.PDF 

Robb, A., Frewin, K. and Jagger, P. (2017b). ‘Global Workforce : Digital Innovation in Mobility.’ Deloitte. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/fi/Documents/tax/deloitte-uk-digital-innovation-in-mobility.pd 

References

Deloitte. (2020). ‘2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Survey. Deloitte.’ Deloitte. Retrieved May 27, 2020, from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/us/articles/us43244_human-capital-trends-2020/us43244_human-capital-trends-2020/di_hc-trends-2020.pdf 

Deloitte. (2019). ’Global Workforce Insight 2019.’ Deloitte. Retrieved May 28, 2020, from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/ch/Documents/tax/deloitte-ch-Back-to-the-future-global-workforce.pdf

FIDI. (2019). ‘2020 Vision: A Focus on Next Year’s Trends.’ FIDI Global Alliance. Retrieved May 28, 2020, from https://www.fidi.org/blog/2020-vision-focus-next-years-trends 

Hershbein B and Khan, L. B. (2018). ‘Do Recessions Accelerate Routine-Biased Technological Change? Evidence from Vacancy Postings.’ American Economic Review. Vol. 108, no. 7, pp. 1737-72. Retrieved May 27, 2020, from https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.20161570

KPMG. (2019). ‘Global Assignment Policies and Practices Survey.’ KPMG International. Retrieved May 28, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2019/10/2019-gapp-survey-report-web.pdf

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