International Mobility Global Diversity and Equality

Blog by Sandra Kerr OBE, Director of Race for Opportunity

Sandra Kerr, National Director, Race for Opportunity
Kindly hosted by Deloitte, the event was chaired by Colleen Humphrey, Director of Workplace programmes at Stonewall, with speakers from all three organisations – myself, Helen Wells, director of Opportunity Now, and Daniel Danso, Client Group Manager of Stonewall’s Workplace programmes.
Long-term success often means an expanded footprint into emerging markets and otherwise. This requires recruiting, managing, relocating and retaining talent on a global scale. This session was designed to help businesses reflect on their own mobility initiatives, identify the challenges, and find better ways of getting it right from the start for both the employer and the employee. 
For any organisation with – or considering – a global presence here are some top line issues to take into consideration when managing an international mobile workforce. 
Keep an eye on diversity. Race for Opportunity’s Race to Progress: Breaking Down Barriers research (2011), found a motivational gap between BAME and white Britons when it came to relocation. 66% of African respondents and 57% of Indian respondents were willing to move/relocate to succeed in their careers, compared to 46% of white Britons. We ask organisations to consider if they are:
  • Monitoring all strands of diversity across global assignments and placements
  • Aware of the different challenges you face in respect of each strand within diversity
  • Addressing organisational culture both internationally and at local levels
  • Providing cross-cultural training, and monitoring its value
  • Developing a consistent approach to diversity and unconscious bias across multiple geographic and cultural regions
Talent management and employee mobility. The 2011 Brookfield Global Relocation Trends Survey found that found that 38% of employees leave their company within just one year of repatriation in line with industry estimates that range between 25% and 45%. This indicates that employers are struggling to manage their global talent.
A recent study by Kelly Services shows that less than half (44%) of the global workforce feels valued by their employers and that two-thirds (66%) intend to look for a new job with another organisation next year.
Whilst organisations need to be mindful of ROI in placing employees on international assignments, they need to monitor rates of attrition for these individuals, and ascertain cause for departure: 
  • Are the relocation packages compelling enough? 
  • What are the top reasons for early return from assignments or departure   
  • Is the professional value of an overseas assignment negatively impacting on the employee’s ability to advance within the organisation, leading them to look elsewhere? 
Rise of cross-border commuters. These are employees who regularly move back and forth between countries because it is geographically expedient to do so. In the last 10 years or so, commuter assignments as an alternative to short-term (and even long-term) assignments have begun to take a larger role, primarily in Europe. It is predicted that over the next decade, more companies will see cross-border commuter assignments as a viable component of their mobility programmes. 
We ask organisations to ensure that these opportunities are open and flexible to all employees, not just men and women without children/family/caring responsibilities