If you are looking to attract more women into your mobility programmes, you might want to consider providing them with a good level of support during their international assignments.

This was according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey of 3,937 professionals from 40 countries.

The report found when considering taking up international assignments, women in Singapore are worried about the level of international assignment support that would be provided by their employer, both financial and instrumental.

More than half (53%) of local women professionals cited this as their top concern - higher than the global average.

Another concern revolved around the assignment destination.

Almost six out of 10 (59%) of women and 50% of men in Singapore said that they would never relocate to Africa.

In addition, 63% (vs. 65% globally) of females in Singapore would like opportunities to work overseas to be more transparent at the companies they work for.

Despite these concerns, mobility opportunities remain high on the list of desirable employer traits, with 71% of Singaporean women saying it is critical to attracting and keeping them with an employer, versus 64% globally.

It also found that the time these mobility opportunities are provided is also important.

A majority (83%) of females in Singapore (vs. 73% globally) revealed that they want to take a mobility experience in their first six years of their careers. Yet, about a third of organisations globally don’t currently offer early mobility opportunities.

The survey also found that 89% of Singaporean females found mobility programmes with more flexibility and choice offered in assignment packages more attractive, compared to 80% of women globally.

Almost 8 in 10 Singaporean women also expressed that they would prefer a mobility experience prior to starting a family, and a similar number (79%) prior to having eldercare responsibilities.

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However, the report also showed that there is a gender gap when it comes to mobility opportunities with women being less likely (global - 19% vs. Singapore – 25%) than men to believe the opportunities for international mobility with their current employer are equal for both genders.

Karen Loon, diversity leader, PwC Singapore said: “This PwC report highlights a number of critical diversity disconnects. CEOs must drive an agenda where women are both aware of, and provided with, the critical experiences required to progress their career, including international assignment opportunities. Global mobility, diversity and talent management strategies must be connected to support the successful realisation of international business and people strategies.

As Singapore becomes more prominent on the world stage, Singapore companies and brands will naturally need to level up to compete at an international level. Global mobility and international experience can play a big part in retaining talent and driving innovation, which are necessary for competing at a global level.”

Sadly, these beliefs are true, with more than half (57%) of global mobility executives said their female employees were underrepresented in their mobility populations.

Furthermore, while 60% of MNCs are using mobility to develop future leaders, only 22% are actively trying to bring up their levels of female mobility and only 22% of global mobility leaders have aligned their mobility and diversity strategies.

While these organisations might think that "women with children don’t want to work overseas or that women don’t want to move because it will put their partners’ higher income at risk."

READ MORE: Dual career families are the number one challenge to talent mobility

In fact, the report pointed out that globally, 41% of the female respondents who told us they want to undertake an international assignment are parents, compared with 40% of men.

Additionally, in Singapore 85% of women in a dual-career couple earn equal to or more than their partner, making the dual-career challenge a mobility factor for organisations apply to male talent as well.

“To overcome the barriers to more gender-inclusive mobility, employers must first identify and understand the actual – not assumed – barriers confronting them. Using data analytics to gain a clear view of current mobility and wider workforce demographics is one avenue that companies can explore to close this gap,” Loon added.

Sakaya Johns Rani, PwC international assignment services leader, pointed out: “International assignments and the experience gained from them are critical for leadership development. This will prepare female talents for greater advancement in their careers. Employers need to communicate clearly around global mobility, and have transparent, formal processes and arrangements available to promote and facilitate such opportunities.

There is also room for global mobility programmes to be more flexible, especially in the area of repatriation and support for working mothers seeking global mobility opportunities. A gender-inclusive mobility programme will include a world-class repatriation programme, together with flexibility, choice and options around assignment duration and package. These new norms need to fit into global mobility programmes to include more employees.”

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