In an increasingly globalised economy, international experience is key for employees eager to develop leadership skills, increase their knowledge of business abroad and improve their relationships with those from different cultures.
Why does mixed gender leadership matter to global organisations?
How can an IHRM encourage female leadership within their organisation?
Risk aversion and family are two often cited reasons why women are under represented on international assignment however these are not always the driving force. Reports show that women are not always approached or encouraged to apply for international leadership roles in the same way a male colleague might be, on the assumption they won’t be interested. This often-unconscious bias doesn’t reflect reality with BCG’s Women on the Move report showing that while 55% of women would be willing to move abroad for a job, only 30% had done so.
As an IHRM, if all the applications for an expatriate assignment are from men, it can seem like a significant challenge to increase female representation at leadership level abroad. But there are things your organisation can do to show their commitment to gender diversity including:
Ensure women are receiving the same expat leadership opportunities
Focus on female employees early in their career
Survey female assignees
Unconscious bias training
Tailor expat training and support
There is no doubt that pre-departure training improves the success rate of all expatriates however the specific needs of women should also be addressed. If the assignee is moving to a region that may be more challenging for female employees, ensure they receive extra support they may need on the ground.
There is a lot that your organisation can do to encourage more women to work abroad so you can see the economic benefits a mixed gender leadership provides in your business.