Managing Diversity in your Mobility Programs

A summary from the Sydney Chapter Meeting on 9th November, 2016

Go to the profile of Aysegul Kayahan
Nov 17, 2016

Managing Diversity in your Mobility Programs
Sydney Chapter Meeting event summary - 9th November 2016

The profile of international travellers and assignees are changing. Our mobile workforce today increasingly reflects the diversity that exists within our society. Form a mobility perspective, this trend is not without its challenges, and the rate of such change within mobile populations has perhaps not kept pace with wider society. Issues that might not feature significantly (or at all) in risk assessments for travel in Australia can become much more significant when they emerge abroad.

Our speakers for this session were:

  • Dr Nhlanhla Mpofu, International SOS Medical Director, Occupational Health – Australasia
  • Tim Burgess, Co-Founder at Shield GEO Services Limited

The first question floated was "How is Diversity affecting our ability to attract and deploy talent safely?"

Tim Burgess raised the issue of unconscious bias and the recent research their organisation conducted in association with Sydney University. Unconscious bias exists, men are substantially more likely to be selected for international assignments than women (other research conducted by other universities also supports this).

Diversity strategies to increase female leadership will fail because of a lack of international assignment opportunities. There is currently a shortage of eligible women for leadership roles.

When equal opportunities to take an international assignment exist, female participation rates will equal or outnumber males. 59% of all international students in Australia in 2012 were female.

The importance of gender diversity on global mobility:

  • Global mobility is a positive driver of business success and a powerful way to develop senior leadership talent. 60% of companies move employees to develop future leaders.
  • 71% percent of female millennials want to work abroad during their career, but only 20% of the current internationally mobile population are women.
  • To be successful in attracting, hiring and retaining female talent, it’s imperative that international organisations have a gender diversity talent brand on global mobility
  • As Millennials become a substantial part of the global workforce, research says their perspectives about careers are markedly different than other generations. We need to cater for this now.

Dr Mpolu focused on travel risks; how does the profile of the person you are sending affect their risk; e.g. health, women, diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, LGBT couples and families in general (don't just look at the risk associated with the employee but the whole family unit).

Disclosure: Duty of Care or Discrimination? Are you looking for equality or equity? Discussed affirmative action and quotas.

Through examples and maps Mr Mpolu was able to illustrate the extent of the different risks to employees, some very graphically. E.g. Zika Virus, Malaria, Personal health and certain climates and countries that might not have good infrastructure to countries where you could be jailed for being gay and one extreme example, Pakistan has the death penalty.

Due diligence and specific briefing is key; the rules and regulations around requesting personal information was also explained and more questions ensued.

A very robust discussion was had on this complex topic. It was great to be able to extend the August discussion we have on gender diversity.

Further reading and International SOS Resources and Shield GEO Gender Survey

Want to know more about the Sydney Chapter Meeting or receive updates on future events? Please email Aysegul Kayahan

Go to the profile of Aysegul Kayahan

Aysegul Kayahan

Director, Relocation Specialists

Aysegul Kayahan, managing director of Relocation Specialists in Queensland and Victoria has been in the global mobility industry since 1993. Aysegul started the Forum for Expatriate Management community in Australia in early 2012, with chapters in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. From February 2015 to January 2017, Aysegul was appointed to the role of global chair of Chapter Leads for the Forum for Expatriate Management.

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