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97% of employers have more male global assignees than female

Women were also found to gain less career value from international assignments

Almost all organisations (97%) have a higher number of male global assignees than female, according to research from The RES Forum.

Beyond Uniformity – A World of Opportunity found that only 3% of organisations have a higher than 50:50 ratio of female to male global assignees. An additional 3% reported the number of women on global assignments to be between 41% and 50%, while 18% admitted that less than 10% of their international assignees were women.

Career progression and prospects following a global assignment were also found to be less positive for women than for men. While 39% of all international assignees are promoted faster on their return, this drops to 26% when looking at women only. Additionally, while 39% of all international assignees were offered new jobs within a year of returning, the figure dips to 35% for just women.

Despite this, 85% of respondents agreed with the statement that male and female assignees were treated equally when it came to international assignments.

Andrea Piacentini, co-founder of The RES Forum, suggested a possible link between these findings and the rise of VUCA conditions – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous situations and environments.

The report found that there are a large number of VUCA trends that have substantial ramifications for global mobility. It found companies often react to globalisation through increased localisation and more flexible and agile approaches to global mobility.

“VUCA is an interesting subject and it might even represent the last frontier for the ‘old world’ international assignment,” Piacentini said. “In the world we live in, where companies are continuing to chase growth and margin in a low inflationary environment, the stakes could not be higher.

“But how does this tie into the... point about gendered behaviours? And are men the biggest beneficiaries of this new VUCA world? It might be too early to answer these questions, but we can conclude that VUCA factors are becoming more important for the way we look at international assignments.”