Women urged to “go global” to “finally close” the gender gap

On average, only 16 per cent of people on international programmes for big corporations are women; and that figure has remained largely unchanged for 20 years, with companies not doing enough to break the 20 per cent barrier.

Essentially, women are now being urged to “go global”.

Lisa Johnson, Crown World Mobility’s global practice leader for consulting services, said: “We have a done a lot of research and what we’re finding is that across many industries, global companies with a wider range of headquarter locations are now investing heavily in strategies to put this right.

“Their aim is to recruit and retain women in their organisations, especially for senior management positions. These companies see it as a business imperative that has a positive impact on their bottom line – and they are realising that barriers to assignment opportunities for women need to be addressed.

“So this is fantastic time for women to grasp the opportunity, and for organisations to do likewise. Being on an international assignment can be a career-enhancing and life-enhancing experience and there is no longer any reason for women to miss out.”

The value of having women in management positions has been researched and proven positive. A recent Credit Suisse survey of 2500 companies over several years showed corporate performance increased significantly when women were on the boards. And many companies now report that clients demand diversity, so addressing the issue has become a commercial decision too.

Read more about the gender gap:

Jan Gregory, a global account executive at Crown World Mobility, has demonstrated how accepting an international assignment can boost a career – and change a life.

Gregory, currently based in Switzerland, worked for HSBC for ten years but saw her life completely change direction when she accepted a post to leave England to work abroad with the bank in Malaysia.

“It was a big step for me but I’ll never regret it,” she said. “I have experienced so much since then. I loved my time in Malaysia and it gave me a whole new level of confidence. Then after five years I decided I wanted to take control and move into global mobility – and I never looked back. I’ve since worked in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and now Basel. It’s not easy to leave a settled role with a big bank, and if I hadn’t gone abroad to work I don’t think I would ever have done it; I’d have worked for the same company all my life. But I feel very positive about how things turned out.”

It doesn’t surprise Gregory that so few women take on an international move; but she has a very clear message for anyone considering a similar opportunity. “I’d say just do it – take the plunge. It’s important to know yourself and what you want from the experience, it’s certainly not for everyone. But it’s a wonderful opportunity. It helps your career and helps you grow.

“There are probably a lot of reasons why not enough women take on foreign assignments and certainly when I was starting it wasn’t really encouraged or even talked about as an option. But that is certainly changing now. International schemes in days gone by pretty much expected you to give up your whole life for work if you moved abroad with the company. The opportunity was offered to people with no ties, who didn’t mind throwing themselves into work and forgetting about family and relationships. It was a work fast, live fast environment. A lot of women didn’t want that.”

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