What you Need to Know About Diversity & Inclusion 10.3.2019 | Laura Levenson

Our thought leaders are always on top of the latest industry trends and use their subject matter expertise throughout our fast paced and growing industry. From speaking at conferences, to hosting roundtables, to contributing to industry publications, our colleagues are frequently called upon around the globe to contribute and help shape conversations around industry hot topics. And we want to share our knowledge with you, in an effort to propel mobility together!

Reflecting on this year’s CERC Future-Proofing Mobility Conference and Worldwide ERC’s Global Workforce Symposium, I am so pleased at the level of interest and focus on improving and enhancing the employee experience. From the keynotes, to CERC’s Designing a Winning Culture, to Designing an Exceptional Employee Experience, to my own sessions at both conferences on Diversity and Inclusiveness in Mobility, it is clear that companies are recognizing the value of people first in our highly specialized service industry.

Each session explored a multitude of ways in which leaders and teams can be more strategic about the way they adapt to today’s multi-generational and multi-cultural workforce, as well as, the realities of rapid change and disruption. Leaders need new skills and businesses need creative talent to create and implement solutions to support these dynamic times.

In my recent sessions on diversity and inclusiveness, I was humbled by the openness and willingness of my fellow presenters to share their own experiences and challenges both personally and professionally, and how their personal stories have shaped who they are and the value they each bring to their organizations. It was amazing to hear the audience chime in and open up and share their experiences as well.

Conceptually, many of us acknowledge that the theory of diversity and inclusiveness fosters innovation, but throughout the session and the many examples shared in the discussion, it was eye-opening to hear people lament that their organization’s overall inclusive practices – or lack thereof – are not up to the same standards and principals of diversity. In other words, companies are espousing diversity but not creating an atmosphere in which every opinion and voice is heard and matters. My co-panelist at CERC from IBM, Rukhsana Syed, Chief Diversity Officer for IBM Canada noted that it is incumbent on the business to take the lead and embrace both diversity and inclusiveness. Only then can the mobility program successfully mirror these policies and practices throughout the organization.

Some key takeaways from these sessions were as follows:

  • Never assume that a person does or does not want to embark on a particular assignment or move. If the person has some or all of the skills for the role, it’s really best to have an open and frank dialogue. Employees need to feel “safe” in the discussion and in their response; if they have concerns or fears, they should be addressed up front.
  • Employees who turn down an assignment should not fear that their career will be negatively impacted by their decision.
  • There are many possible solutions to the various challenges of diversity – whether it be same-sex partners going on assignment in “unfriendly” locations, dependents with special needs, or unaccompanied assignees with special needs. The key is to provide a safe space to communicate any specific needs, and to together identify solutions that work for everyone.
  • Sometimes unaccompanied assignments are the best solution; consider how you would support such assignments to ensure that the assignee and the family at home continue to thrive.
  • “Work-arounds” are okay, but staying within legal limits is critical; one case of non-compliance from either an immigration or tax perspective can bring a company tremendous risk and liability.

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Written by Laura Levenson


Laura Levenson is a Practice Leader in Weichert Workforce Mobility’s Advisory Services group. She has worked in management capacities for workforce mobility and Big Four firms, and is well-versed in bringing clarity to the most pressing global talent deployment challenges. She brings over 25 years of experience to her role and is a frequent speaker on the mobility conference circuit.

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