Female International Job Mobility – 6 Things You Need To Know

With 14% of the worlds women willing to work abroad, women are an interesting pool of talent to recruit internationally. An increasing number of corporates are looking for female talent for high level management positions and boards of directors. So, what drives female foreign employees to your organization, and what will convince them to move?

More and more women migrate autonomously to work abroad

The expansion of free borders around the world and the internationalization of the labor market has increased international job mobility and caused a free flow of skilled personnel to various parts in the world. Intelligence Group surveyed employees across 45 countries and found that both men and women are increasingly likely to consider an international career and migrate autonomously to work abroad. Because women are an interesting target group in international recruitment, we focused on the what you need to know about the international job mobility of women. Some of the most important findings:

1. Focus your recruiting efforts on countries where women are more willing to move

Women from China, Hungary, Denmark and Colombia are more willing to work abroad than their male compatriots .
Chinese, Hungarian, Danish and Colombian women are more willing to work abroad than men living in those countries. The participation of women in migration flows depends largely on their social roles, their autonomy, their access to resources, and the existing gender stratification of the labor market in a given country. Due to the one child policy, talent in general- and especially women -are already scarce in China. Figures show that even more women are willing to leave China than men. This can be translated into a potential group of 47,429,000 Chinese women who want to migrate for work abroad. This is an interesting talent pool for companies outside of China. The same phenomenon, but with a smaller talent pool size, counts for women in Hungary, Denmark and Colombia.
Women in Vietnam, Japan and Hong Kong woman are not international mobile.
It is significantly harder and perhaps an inefficient use of resources to target, attract and recruit Japanese and Vietnamese women as they are not international mobile and are more willing to stay in their home countries. This means only 765,000 (3%) of Japanese women and 196,000 (1%) of Vietnamese women are willing to move abroad for work. Women living in Hong Kong, Latvia and Germany are also not very international mobile. The table below demonstrates that in these countries,  men are far more willing to migrate for work than their female compatriots.
 female talent mobility
Table 1- Overview of countries female inhabitants who are not (very) international mobile

2. Women do not want to move to the Middle East

The research of Intelligence Group shows that preferred destinations for an international career for both genders are the United States of America (USA), Australia, United Kingdom and Canada.
In a list of top 10 popular expat locations, there were only 5 countries that appeared on the lists of both genders. Female workers listed Canada, Taiwan and France as popular expat destinations, whilst these specific countries were less appealing to men. In contrast, the men surveyed were more likely to move to Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, whilst women on the whole were not at all attracted to working in the Middle East. For recruiters based in the Middle East, this data suggests that your time is best spent focused on recruiting male expats.
Top 10 talent destinations
In terms of attracting top female talent, the knowledge of which countries are preferred by female expats is not enough; we require a greater understanding of the reasons behind the desired move. We need to understand the reasons that are important for both genders and if different motivating factors come into play.

3. Women will move abroad to achieve long-term goals and career improvements

Recruiters looking at sourcing international talent need to examine the impact their country’s mobility will have on achieving the goals of their candidates. Our studies found that women are more likely to move abroad for long-term career growth and progression. Men, on the other hand, tend to have short-term improvements in mind.
More than 60 percent of the women surveyed had moved with the prospect of gaining an (even) better standard of living. Additionally, they were moving to acquire work experience (53%) and to further their personal development. In contrast, men take issues like climate (19%), economic conditions (27%), (air) pollution and other health risks (9%) in their own/current country into consideration far more than women when it comes to the decision to work abroad. Internationally mobile men are looking to be healthier – both physically and economically – as a result of their migration. Thus, recruiters will have more success targeting women from less mobile societies, and offering them greater social and employment mobility, a better standard of living and work experience in their chosen field to improve their long term prospects.
Below- What are the most important reasons to move abroad?
Reasons to move abroad

4. Salary and career opportunities are the most important factors to attract women

Both men and women assign a good salary as the most important driver when considering moving overseas for work. However, women place a great value on the ability to develop and grow. Career opportunities, learning a native language and the working atmosphere are more important enticements for female talent. In contrast, men are 10% more motivated than women by a permanent contract and having a good work/life balance.
The figure below illustrates the difference between men and women in their most important motivators to change jobs and move countries.
Drivers to choose work abroad
Graph above- Most important drivers to when choosing an employer abroad. 

 5. Expats do not want to be surprised. When recruiting women overseas, do not spare any information on the realities of your country. 

Organizations need to think about how to make their destinations more appealing. In many cases, this is simply a  matter of communication. Organizations need to consider the message they communicate in order to sell their country as a potential working and living destination. For both genders, information on accommodation/housing, standard of living, social environment, opportunity to learn a new language, relocation arrangements and local facilities matter the most. However, female expats want more (detailed) information than men. Except for a welcome basket on the first day, female expats do not want to be surprised. Recruiters should therefore, give potential international female talent a clear view on ‘everything’ associated with your city, both good and bad.
Take the best practice of Booking.com as example. The short video can be seen here.

Best practice example
Booking.com has a well-developed HR policy that is focused on honest communication in areas of importance to working immigrants. They developed a short documentary, that explores the life of three Booking.com expats. This video successfully touches on all the areas female expats said they were looking for information on; learning a new language, accommodation, career prospects and local facilities. This video not only communicates the benefits of working for the company and ease of relocation, but also highlights the city and its culture in the best light.

6. Duration of stay is not a critical point for women who are (very) willing to work abroad

The overall duration of stay abroad does not matter for women who are really willing to work abroad. A remarkable finding from the research was that the less sure a women was about working abroad, the shorter they expect their stay. While 40% of the women, who were willing to work abroad wanted to stay more than 10 years abroad, only 10% of the woman who were impartial towards working abroad were willing to spend more than 10 years in another country. In contrast, more than 50% of the women who were impartial towards working abroad were happy to to commit to a move if the contract was less than 2 years. Therefore, recruiters who find their international female candidates are not fully convinced to move should consider offering shorter contracts.
In 2015, an increasing number of men and women are looking for opportunities beyond their own boarders. As the fight for talent wages on, top recruiters will be looking for more and more talent abroad. Recruiters who want to ensure they can recruit top female international talent will do so by targeting countries where they know large numbers of skilled women are more willing than men to leave; recruit them to the western world (not to the Middle East), and overwhelm them with information on how their new country can provide them with a great career and future.

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