Internationally immobile

BY Richard Summerfield

As employers look to develop the business leaders of tomorrow, they are increasingly using mobility to bolster their talent pipeline. However, according to a new report from PwC, companies are greatly neglecting one part of their work force: women.

PwC’s ‘Moving Women with Purpose’ notes that international mobility experiences can be of great benefit to both employees and employers, and by allowing staff to develop their careers overseas companies can create opportunities for staff to develop into future leaders and key talents. However, PwC’s data suggests that the number of women being transitioned into international opportunities is remarkably low, at just 20 percent of international assignees.

PwC interviewed 134 global mobility executives and 3937 professionals from over 40 countries and found a huge disparity in the number of women wanting to experience overseas work in the careers and those being afforded the opportunity to pursue such a position. Indeed, 71 percent of female ‘millennials’ – millennials, for the purposes of PwC’s report, are defined as being born between 1980 and 1995 – want to work outside their home country during the course of their careers, yet only 20 percent of the current internationally mobile population are women.

More and more women wish to be considered for international assignments, yet that demand is not being borne out in reality. More than half of the survey’s respondents said their female employees were being under-represented in their company’s mobility populations.

"This PwC report highlights a number of critical diversity disconnects. CEOs must drive an agenda where women are both aware of, and provided with, the critical experiences required to progress their career, including international assignment opportunities. Global mobility, diversity and talent management strategies must be connected to support the successful realisation of international business and people strategies," said Dennis Nally, chairman of PwC International.

Furthermore, only 49 percent of women surveyed believed that organisations had enough female role models with successful international assignment experiences. This shortcoming has a negative impact on employers’ female talent pools and global mobility programmes.

The report also vanquishes a number of myths around gender stereotypes, namely the suggestion that women with children would be unwilling to work overseas or that women would not seek an international assignment for fear of jeopardising a higher earning partner’s income at risk. Forty-one percent of the female respondents who noted that would want to undertake an international assignment were parents, compared with 40 percent of men.

Given the data contained within the report, the onus is on organisations to take steps to drive higher awareness of the positive experiences of female assignees moving forward.

Report: Moving Women with Purpose

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