Female demand for international mobility at an all-time high

Female demand for international mobility at an all-time high

Female demand for international mobility at an all-time high

The FINANCIAL -- To mark International Women’s Day (IWD) on Tuesday 8th March 2016, PwC surveyed 3,937 professionals from 40 countries to find out about their international mobility experiences and aspirations. Of these 3,937 respondents, 2,285 were women and 1,652 men. In parallel, PwC surveyed 134 executives with responsibility for global mobility to explore current mobility, talent management and diversity trends.

The report – Modern mobility: Moving women with purpose – reveals that women are 19% less likely than men to believe the opportunities for international mobility with their current employer are equal for men and women.

Yet, the opportunities for an international experience feature high on the list of desirable employer traits, with 64% of females saying this is critical to attracting and keeping them with an employer. This echoes PwC’s research in 2015 which revealed that 71% of female millennials want to work outside their home country during their career (The female millennial: A new era of talent​).

Diversity disconnects

The report highlights that we are experiencing a time of unprecedented female demand for mobility, but this demand is not yet reflected in reality. More than half (57%) of global mobility executives said their female employees were underrepresented in their mobility populations.

And while 60% of multinationals are using mobility to develop their succession pipeline of future leaders, only 22% are actively trying to increase their levels of female mobility.  Furthermore, only the same low percentage of global mobility leaders said their mobility and diversity strategies are aligned.

Dennis Nally, Chairman of PwC International Ltd., says: “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.”

Challenging gender stereotypes

The PwC report challenges certain assumptions and gender stereotypes, for example that women with children don’t want to work overseas or that women don’t want to move because it will put their partners’ higher income at risk. In fact, 41% of the female respondents who told us they want to undertake an international assignment are parents, compared with 40% of men. And 77% of women in a dual-career couple earn equal to or more than their partner, making the dual-career challenge a mobility factor for organisations when it comes to both male and female talent.

Agnès Hussherr, PwC Global Diversity Leader, says: “To overcome the barriers to more gender-inclusive mobility, international employers must first identify and understand the actual – not assumed – barriers confronting them. Using data analytics to gain a clear view of current mobility and wider workforce demographics will be crucial.”

A gender-inclusive mobility programme

When looking at the professional concerns women are most challenged with when considering an international assignment, three of the top four barriers relate to repatriation. Top of the list is a concern about what their return role will be at the end of the assignment (44%). In addition, the survey shows that flexibility and choice offered in assignment packages would make international mobility programmes more attractive to females (80%).

Peter Clarke, PwC Global Mobility Services Leader, says “To attract, retain and develop female talent, international employers must adopt a modern, more flexible approach to mobility. A gender-inclusive mobility programme will include a world-class repatriation programme, together with flexibility, choice and options around assignment duration and package. Organisations that get this right, will be ahead of the game when it comes to attracting, retaining and deploying female talent.”

More challenges and areas of disconnect include:

74% of respondents (women and men) said the best time to complete a mobility experience is in the first six years of a career – yet 33% of organisations don’t currently offer early mobility opportunities.

65% of females would like opportunities to work overseas to be more transparent at the companies they work for.

Less than half of women (49%) agree that their organisation has enough female role models with successful international assignment experience.

The preferred assignment destinations for professionals often don’t match what’s on offer. Forty-eight percent of women and 35% of men said they would never relocate to the Middle East. Meanwhile, 43% of women and 39% of men said the same about Africa.