Diversity in Talent Mobility Progressing but Considered Too Slow

Is the lack of diversity in the mobile workforce really a pressing issue? While there have been multiple mentions of this problem in recent years, it only seemed to increase the level of awareness — the response, not so much. Although some companies shared news on success stories within their mobile workforce, many consider the progress quite slow. 

Many also observed that a shortage of diverse candidates for senior positions is caused by the lack of relevant experience, and this experience can be gained through international assignments. With fewer opportunities for women and minorities to gain skills and experience through these assignments, there’s a slim chance of having these individuals land in leadership positions.

Mercer’s review on its 2020 Worldwide Survey of International Assignment Policies and Practices sheds light on the current development of gender parity and minority inclusion. It shows evidence that the number of female assignees has grown in five years. Female assignees now contribute 20 percent to the global assignee population – a notable increase considering what used to be 11 percent.

However, minority inclusion looks less promising within the mobile workforce population. Mercer’s observed that only 12 percent of employers have taken the initiative to create more mobility opportunities for minority employees. This result led numerous business leaders to consider the realignment of global mobility planning with diversity and inclusion. 

Some companies have successfully promoted and facilitated diversity and inclusion in their workforce. These companies provide other organizations with a benchmark. Now, they can exploit the existing practices that led to their success in achieving a diverse mobile workforce. 

One case study, for instance, presents Schneider Electric as a role model of diversity and inclusion. The company’s switch from a one-headquarter model to a multi-hub business model pushed it to open several assignments to these hubs. 

In line with the company’s D&I Ambition: “Provide equal opportunities to everyone everywhere and to ensure all employees feel uniquely valued and safe to contribute their best,” Schneider Electric has deployed international assignees from 53 nationalities in 54 home and 60 host countries. 

Companies shouldn’t just settle to check a list of compliance responsibilities of mandated equal employment opportunity laws. There have been studies proving that companies can benefit from maintaining a highly diverse workforce. 

According to a study by Boston Consulting Group Henderson Institute, a positive relationship between a company’s workforce diversity and its capability to innovate exists. In addition to that, a McKinsey & Company study states that promoting female and ethnic diversity will result in improved profitability in an organization.

The proof of its positive impact should encourage companies to implement more inclusive changes in their talent strategies, say, for example in talent attraction. To successfully gather a sizable, diverse talent pool for international assignments, a company must revisit its existing relocation policies. Old school policies don’t tackle several nuances of different individual employee experiences. 

Relocate Global suggests companies to ensure flexible and inclusive relocation programs. It further advises companies to consider the following circumstances when reviewing relocation policies:

  • Single-parent employees
  • Accompanying partners or adult dependents
  • Spouse/partner re-employment
  • Dual career families
  • Single employees
  • LGBTQ+ relationships

The mere observation of a company’s inclusive relocation programs encourages female and minority employee groups to accept assignment offers. The gesture of these initiatives can be well-received by these underrecognized employee groups.

Another important thing to note is the need for business leaders to see the value of global mobility’s full involvement in determining candidates for assignments. Back in 2018, KPMG’s Inclusion and Diversity Opinion Survey inquired organizations why their global mobility department isn’t aligned with D&I objectives. Almost 60 percent of 175 plus organizations said that business units determined candidates for assignments without consultations from global mobility managers.  

With business units practically having their hands full, handling different strategies to counter the negative effects of Covid-19, global mobility paired with D&I can provide valuable insights in identifying prospects for international and national assignments. 

Once companies successfully attain a highly diverse global workforce, it’s critical to gather feedback from employee experiences to leverage these models to promote unbiased talent recruitment and pooling in the future. The feedback also aids employers to make vital adjustments to their relocation programs to create a more inclusive work culture.