Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Employee Mobility

Mobility is uniquely positioned to proactively advance diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities in their organizations, as well as support and develop diverse employee populations.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has long been on the corporate agenda but has come into the spotlight recently as organizations seek diverse perspectives, innovation, and to reflect the societies they inhabit in the ongoing war for talent. According to the 2021 BGRS Talent Mobility Trends Survey, 78% of companies consider DEI to be the most relevant aspect of corporate social responsibility to their mobility strategies. Regionally, organizations headquartered in the Americas are paying the most attention to DEI (82%), closely followed by 79% in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). Asia Pacific seems the least focused on this area, with 45% selecting it as relevant. Focus on DEI is also more pronounced in higher volume/more complex mobility programs, with 85% considering DEI as relevant as opposed to 70% in lower volume/less complex ones. However, the overall trend is clear, and the increased focus on DEI reflects the important role that talent mobility can play not just in aligning with wider DEI agendas, but in actively promoting them.

Inclusive Mobility Programs

Organizations are assessing the inclusiveness of their program language, sourcing support resources such as per-country LGBTQ+ information, and considering whether existing policy provisions are equitable enough to address societal disadvantages rather than simply providing the same benefits across the board. The one-size approach most certainly doesn’t fit all, and a resounding 82% of those surveyed believe that more flexibility and personalization of benefits will have a direct positive impact on the mobile employee experience. This aligns with trends towards utilizing an employee-driven core/flex benefits selection approach, in which a budget can be self-allocated to focus on diverse employees’ unique priorities and needs. However, having flexible program options is only helpful if diverse employees are taking up, or being considered for, mobility opportunities in the first place.

While not always stated as a prerequisite for promotion, those who have had international relocation experience tend to be highly represented in senior leadership teams, in part because of the valuable skills and experience that assignments provide. Therefore, ensuring that underrepresented groups are given access to mobility experience is intertwined with increasing their opportunities to reach executive positions. In parallel, international experience can provide existing leaders or employees with a perspective of being outside their host culture. When this is intentionally trained on and leveraged, it can develop global mindset skills, empathy, and more inclusive behaviors.

DEI in a Distributed Workforce

The pandemic cemented the concept of a distributed workforce, with 80% of the survey respondents anticipating remote working will increase as a standard employment practice, and a smaller but still sizable portion (33%) anticipating offering virtual mobility as a new mobility type. Fundamentally, a distributed workforce opens up a far wider talent pool; allowing those with physical mobility limitations, familial responsibilities, or in distant locations to take up opportunities they might otherwise not have.

The vast majority of those who are introducing virtual mobility as a new mobility type are also focusing on DEI (90%), and the main rationale for this is to accommodate employees’ personal circumstances (84%). DEI is also a priority among 82% of organizations that are expecting a significant increase in remote working. However, while remote work accommodates many diverse needs, there are potential pitfalls. Younger employees, women, and those from lower socio-economic brackets and ethnic minorities have all been found to be disadvantaged in a remote working environment. This can be because of inadequate working space, internet speed, increased household responsibilities, or the lack of opportunity to learn and grow from peer and senior interactions. Intentional efforts must be made to offset these potential equity risks.

Employee mobility exposes individuals to different perspectives and lies at the heart of developing empathy and an inclusive mindset. It is therefore in a unique position to enable and even drive DEI initiatives within organizations when used strategically in alignment with Talent Management and Human Resources.

Visit the survey microsite to learn more about the 2021 Talent Mobility Trends Survey and contact BGRS to discuss how you can adapt your mobility program to drive DEI initiatives at your organization.