article originally appeared in the June 2018 edition of Mobility Magazine.
Most of today’s international
companies recognize the proven benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace,
and a significant majority of them have strategic goals and performance
measures in place to broaden their pool of talent. A new survey from KPMG International shows that global mobility teams can help their companies realize these goals
in important ways.
But with specific employee
relocation decisions largely in the hands of the business, many global mobility
teams struggle to see how they can make a difference. Encouragingly, the survey
shows that some global mobility teams are embracing their role in advancing
inclusion and diversity—helping their companies bring people’s differences
together in the workplace, fully utilize all of their talent, and foster an
innovative, productive business environment.
The business case for boosting
inclusion and diversity is clear. By providing equal opportunity, promoting
acceptance and understanding, and highlighting the value that all employees
bring, companies can tap a bigger pool of resources and improve their brand,
reputation, and global market competitiveness.
However, the majority of global
mobility professionals surveyed do not have specific inclusion and diversity
objectives as part of their department’s strategy. The most common reason for
this lack of goals, cited by 59 percent of respondents, is that international
assignment candidates are chosen by the business unit, not global mobility. The
idea that global mobility’s job in facilitating assignments is purely
operational is another common reason (31 percent).
With the view that global
mobility is merely providing service to the business, many mobility
professionals say inclusion and diversity goals are not only unnecessary but
also counterproductive and unattainable. Further, almost a third of respondents
(31 percent) see no need for these goals because they view the movement of
people to new countries and cultures as inclusive and diverse by its very
Related: The Transformation of Mobility
The minority of respondents who
do have inclusion and diversity goals (41 percent) tell a different story. The
strong business case for inclusion and diversity across all areas of the
business is the most common reason for setting global mobility inclusion and
diversity goals (70 percent), well ahead of other factors such as responding to
internal feedback (12 percent) and marketplace pressure (5 percent).
Most global mobility teams face
distinct challenges in meeting these goals. One of the biggest hurdles is the
scarcity of mobility-related data on most demographics, apart from gender. The
data gap makes it difficult for global mobility teams to identify patterns,
problem areas, and solutions related to, for example, religion, ethnicity, and
The survey results themselves
highlight how data can reveal areas in which changes in priority could advance
inclusion and diversity. When asked which areas of diversity and inclusion are
priorities for their global mobility programs and policies, gender/gender
identity was named by more than three-quarters of respondents, followed by
socio-economic background (41 percent) and age and ethnicity (each 37 percent).
Only 24 percent said priority is given to sexual orientation.
But responses to another
question suggest sexual orientation warrants higher priority. At 39 percent,
sexual minorities were the most common demographic reported as turning down
assignments or making other adverse mobility decisions. Gender/gender identity
and socio-economic background were the next-most commonly cited, both at 31
percent. While understanding the reasons behind all of these responses is
important, they also indicate that the priority allocated to different
demographics needs a closer look.
Achieving inclusion and
diversity goals can also be blocked by a lack of diversity among the pool of
candidates. If all the potential candidates for an assignment share similar
demographic traits, as occurs with traditionally male-dominated work in
construction and mining, casting a wider demographic net may be
Read the rest of this article
in the June 2018 edition of Mobility