To quote Dr. Susan Shortland (Professor at London Metropolitan University) who recently presented at ReLocate’s Festival of Global Mobility Thinking:
“Women are very successful as ex-pats. Studies find they outperform men, they are preferred as co-workers by local people, they adjust better to career and family life. That comes from data from countries as diverse as Turkey, Japan, South America, India and Iran. The message is, women are good as expats and we need more of them, but women don’t get selected.”
And despite that, according to Deloitte's "Inclusive Mobility: How Mobilizing a Diverse Workforce Can Drive Business Performance," only one in five international assignees are women. When we look across our client base, we found that for 2017 versus year-to-date 2018, women make up:
Int'l long-term assignments: 2017 = 12% versus 2018 = 30%
Int'l short-term assignments: 2017 = 28% versus 2018 = 48%
When combined, the 2017 percentages of female expatriates are similar to what Deloitte reports. However, if the rest of 2018 remains like the first half, we will see a dramatic increase in the percentage of women going on international assignments this year. Is this the result of a D&I movement within companies or an improved connection between D&I and global mobility? At this point, we are not certain.
Taking the conversation beyond just the gender gap, 53% of LGBTQ employees are not out at work and 23% fear that they will not be offered opportunities for global mobility along with other career enhancing experiences if they do come out.
The article suggests that in short, while progress is happening, there is still so much that D&I wants to accomplish within companies globally. There are also many other dimensions of diversity too that need to be considered and targeted for inclusion efforts. More than race, age and gender, these would be traits like: military experience, sexual identity, educational level, languages, cultures, religions, economic/class, abilities/disabilities, locations/regions and personalities (e.g. outgoing vs introverted).
Over the past few years, global mobility teams have been interested in seeking increased dialogue and engagement levels with talent management, and although few global mobility functions report directly to talent (only 3% according to the 2017 KPMG Global Assignment Policies and Practices survey), there is an increase in interaction levels between global mobility and talent within organizations, particularly now with focus on improving the "employee experience." When it comes to D&I and global mobility, according to Deloitte, D&I and global mobility are generally disconnected with only about 20% of global mobility programs having a strong understanding of what is going on within D&I groups and only about 10% of global mobility programs participating in discussions and planning with D&I.
Recently (May 17th), I was privileged to participate in a panel session at Worldwide ERC®'s Americas Mobility Conference 2018 held in Dallas. The title of the session was, "Diversity & Inclusion: A World of Change" and the session was oriented around discussion on what is happening within D&I, how global mobility is either being impacted by D&I or impacting D&I, and the goal was to provide attendees with something that they could immediately go back to their mobility programs and utilize, integrate or at least explore further.
Moderating the power-packed panel discussion was John Habanek, VP Regional Sales Director - West Coast for Chase. On the panel, we had Adrienne Trimble, who is the General Manager for D&I at Toyota, Ray Kirby the Manager of Relocation and Immigration at Nordstrom, and Amy Parrent the Head of Global Mobility at Vanguard.
Some of the points we touched on during the session were:
- Why does D&I matter?
- What kind of obstacles are faced by "non-traditional" profiles?
- Currently for most companies, how does D&I strategy intersect with talent and mobility?
- What are some considerations on how to better align talent and mobility with D&I?
- How and what do companies report on D&I data as it relates to global mobility?
- What are some practical/tactical ways to formally address this important topic when we all go back to the office on Monday?
Dr Susan Shortland, Professor Emerita at London Metropolitan University, introduced the afternoon session on diversity. Diversity has become more recognised as issue that needs to be addressed within the global market,” she said. “This encompasses not just gender diversity but also race, religion, LGBT. A lot of employers are switched on to LGBT because of fears over risk and security, but they have perhaps not looked in detail about the issues around ethnicity and religion.”She explained that 50 per cent of self-initiated moves abroad by women take place outside organisations, but only 27 per cent are sent by their employers in the corporate world.“Women are very successful as ex-pats,” she said. “Studies find they outperform men, they are preferred as co-workers by local people, they adjust better to career and family life. That comes from data from countries as diverse as Turkey, Japan, South America, India and Iran. The message is, women are good as expats and we need more of them, but women don’t get selected.”