In many multinational companies, there are several challenges facing potential female assignees including:
Potential female expats are twice as likely to turn down an expat position because they have no role models to emulate.
There can be a perception among women that they must put in more effort to impress, than a male expatriate in the same role.
Women can discount themselves entirely because they do not meet all the skills listed in the job description.
Ensure your department has clear procedures in place to increase awareness of your global mobility program amongst female employees. Have briefings on the opportunities available abroad, specifically for female employees. Make the briefing a safe space for potential candidates to ask any questions they have. Encourage queries about the selection process and any concerns they may have about expat life.
A report by PwC showed most women preferred to gain international experience early in their career. If this is reflected in your business, consider offering the opportunity to work abroad, for short periods, to high performing juniors. This will also start the process of developing role models for others to follow.
Provide unconscious bias training to all management, to ensure it is not impacting the expat selection process. Consider asking all employees whether they would be interested in working abroad. A database of interested parties will allow you and your management team make more informed decisions on suitable candidates for a role.
There is a long way to go before we see as many women as men in expat roles. However, there is a lot that International Human Resource Managers can do to encourage more females to enhance their careers by working abroad.