Insight #1 of 25 interviewed expat women on assignment: ”Expat and global mobility supports means mostly: moving boxes, visas and houses. Do I get support in growing, moving and leading? Mhh…not really.”
Global companies today face complexity and change at pace unlike any before. You are called upon to solve problems that may have not existed a few years ago. Digital is a constant buzz word, yet is everyone craving personal meaning and purpose. We encounter exciting new opportunities, but are still debating about gender gaps and a lack of female representation in management and the C-suite.
Business is evolving quickly, yet all focus is invested in optimizing customer experiences and relationships.. How do we translate today’s trends into strategic human resources practices? How do we reinvent strategies to acquire top talent and prioritize talent as highly as our external customers? Especially when seeking talent with the potential for taking on our demanding expat roles?
I was curious to discover how women in leadership roles abroad felt supported in their career and what is necessary to help them thrive.
During my interview series (Link to Blog) Expat Women on the Move, I’ve asked every woman:
- how did you get your role?
- what kind of support did you receive during your move?
- how much support do you feel your organization provided?
During my interviews with women in expat leadership roles, 3 Themes stood out:
- How they got into the role? Networking – internally and externally – proved to be key, time and again. . Most women I spoke with felt extra pressure (as compared with male colleauges) to stand out and outperform their peers. Most stated that they did not get the impression from their organization that their expat assignment was part of a bigger career plan.
- Most felt that the act of relocatingexpats is still considered to be a function of moving containers & arranging visas vs. coordinating real people with their own stories and emotions. Relocation focus is placed on administrative support vs. a strategic support system covering mentoring, coaching and onboarding the expat as quickly as possible.
- Most expat women did not feel supported during the move, either by the HQ or country office . They shared that it felt as though they had to discover most aspects of their new home from scratch, instead of implementing synergies to fast-track learning.
In my experience in recruitment and talent acquisition, and also as an expat myself, I am fascinated by:
- How do we choose the right person for the right place? Who delivers in what market? Who matches with the purpose of the country office? A restructuring organization may require a different type of leader than would a flourishing organization.
- How do we as an organization make sure the expat settles in as fast as possible, connects to the local team, and actually creates sustainable results within the time given?
- How do we support the eco-system of the expat, focusing on family, to also transition successfully and find meaning in the assignment?
- How can we change the narrative of traditional expat models? I.e. Man leads the assignment, wife follows, and in a lot of cases, needs to stop working. How can we actively create pipelines of talented women who will strategically follow in expat roels?
- How can we make sure that expats get leadership coaching and support throughout their career?
And the key questions: How could more expat women on assignment inspire other women along the way, and disrupt any bias or closed mindset we have about moving and living abroad in general?
How can we as organizations support our expats 100%, so they feel invested in as leaders and are ready to master all challenges of global life, while creating the changes you want to see for the organization?
Let’s share those stories of inspiring women. You can read about some extraordinary women, their careers and organizational support here (link to Blog).
Do you also want to nominate outstanding expat women in your organization to be interviewed?
Send me an email with the header ‘Expat Women on Assignment – Our Superstar’.
Review of expat programme and services, first hand experience sharing combing the HR focus and being an expat myself
Traits of successful expats? → agile leadership
- To be Humble
- To be Adaptable
- To be Engaged
- To be a Visionary
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