Female employees most suited to international assignments

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Foreign businesses see women with at least two languages and good networking skills as the ideal executives

Foreign businesses see women with at least two languages and good networking skills as the ideal executives, according to an international study.

The Anatomy of an International Business 2013-14 report, conducted by healthcare insurer Expacare, reveals that 26.5% of respondents think women are more suitable for international work. This is compared to 18.5% who say that men are better suited to the work.

In total, 1,000 international business leaders were surveyed about the qualities they look for in an executive employee. Networking skills (60%) came out on top, ahead of a second language (55%) and the ability to sell (41%). The study suggested business leaders see employees in their late 20s and early 30s as most suited to international work. Just over half of respondents (63%) said this was the age group most suited to this type of work.

The research also found the process of relocating staff can be difficult for employers. Almost half (47%) reported finding the process challenging, though 42% said it was not as hard as they thought it would be. Only 9% of employers reported finding the process confusing.

The majority of employees (52%) will consult with their partner first when making a decision to move abroad. A third value the opinion of their parents above all others, but 39% of employees make a decision without consulting any friends of family.

Beverly Cook, managing director of Expacare, highlighted the importance of making sure staff feel looked after during what can be a stressful time. She added that the results showed the importance of traditional skills in the international workplace.

"Language and networking skills continue to come out on top despite the world increasingly becoming a highly globalised and linked-up place," she said.

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