Four months into my second pregnancy, I informed my boss in the Tokyo office of the fact that I would soon need to go on maternity leave. The natural course of conversation continued, with a discussion around the timing of my leave and how and when I would transition my client accounts. The unexpected, and perhaps unconventional part of this meeting was when I requested to go on an international assignment immediately after my maternity leave, and started to brief him on the reasons for the request and why I believed the business should let me go.
Now that I am six months away from completing my two year assignment in London, I can confidently express that it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made for my career, my life and my family, and hopefully the business. My experience and outlook however is an exception to the wealth of statistical data across the world which emphasises the fact that there are not enough women on international assignments, particularly when measured against the other gender. The percentages are even lower for non-single women with a working partner or with children.
Celebration of International Women’s Day and Government requirements such as the UK Gender Pay Gap reporting initiative are increasingly driving the focus on gender parity. Deloitte has published its Gender Pay Gap report and the results are similar to many other organisations striving to increase the ratio of their senior women leaders. At Deloitte, 19% of the Partners are women. The firm, fully supported by senior executive leadership, is focussed on closing this gap and increasing the number of female Partners to 25% by 2020. For many organisations, to be a successful senior executive / business leader one of the typical requirements is to have a broad range of business experience, often including a formal foreign assignment, working for significant spells abroad or overseeing a global team.
Given my experience being a career professional, an international assignee and a mother, it seems timely to share a few thoughts and pose some questions for companies and global mobility functions’ to consider:
- Does your organisational culture and leadership encourage bold and direct behaviour by employees who can add strategic value to the business?
- Is your organisation ready to foster an open culture for the digitally and globally connected up and coming generations?
- Are your talent selection processes providing equal opportunity to a diverse pool of employees, and are assessment metrics structured to measure the potential contribution of business value first and foremost?
- Are your global mobility policies flexible and agile enough for a diverse group of employees to ‘dial up and down’ the assignment package based on the intent of the assignments as well as your employees’ needs?
- Has your global mobility programme considered any digital enhancers to provide compelling global assignment experiences? For instance, instead of an initial pre-assignment trip, where the assignee physically visits the assignment country to scout out the potential living areas and view the office, a virtual reality tour via a VR Headset for the accompanying family can be provided to begin their move with a shared and exciting virtual experience.
Defining and committing to organisational strategic business and talent goals is the starting point for many organisations but we need organisations to deliberately and constructively drive the delivery by pushing the considerations outlined above into motion from all possible angles. As a Global Workforce professional, Global Mobility is my angle and this is my initiative to #PressforProgress.
I would love to hear your views on the issues raised in this blog. Do you have any examples of how Global Mobility at your organisation has transformed to strategically align to organisational Diversity and Inclusion goals? What structural or process changes are required to truly enhance the Global Mobility experience for women, or other specific pools of talent?
Please leave any questions or comments below, or if you prefer you can contact us at GlobalWorkforce@Deloitte.co.uk