International Relocation and the LGBTQ Community
Posted by: Ray Kirby, Global Mobility Manager for Nordstrom, CRP, GMS
Not only is our workforce becoming more mobile – it’s more diverse than ever before. Companies are investing in diversity programs and formalizing and recognizing different employee resource groups. Employee resource groups are an excellent source of information and can provide contacts with other employees who may be in a similar situation. This diverse, mobile workforce not only moves frequently for their company, but goes on international long-term assignments.
Traditionally, relocation programs have always aimed to provide benefits to help employees get from point A to point B, but have not always been as thoughtful when it comes to ensuring the safety and security of employees once on the ground. Knowing and understanding the challenges LGBTQ employees will face on assignment in a new location will not only better prepare HR professionals supporting these assignments, but will help ensure the assignment or relocation is successful.
Recently, Jennifer White, Manager of Consulting Solutions at Cartus, wrote an article for Bloomberg Law. In this article, White offers suggestions for how employers can design their programs to better support the LGBTQ community. There are several suggestions to ensure you are keeping up with a changing and diverse workforce, but below are my tips for Global Mobility professionals.
Tips for Global Mobility Professionals
- Educate Yourself: As a member of the workforce that identifies as LGBTQ myself, I keep updated on changes in both immigration and morality laws globally. This is a topic that hits home to me as there have been work opportunities in the past that I have had to pass on due to immigration challenges. Familiarize yourself with these laws ahead of time to ensure you are setting proper expectations with employees.
- Set Expectations: Upfront education on the new location and local laws may help an employee come forward and self-identify to the company as LGBTQ sooner in the process. This way you can go on the journey of preparing for the international assignment together and understand from the beginning any challenges that may lie ahead.
- Include Cultural Support: The challenges that LGBTQ employees may face in some countries could prevent them from being successful in their role and meeting business objectives. Cultural training is a crucial benefit to provide to employees for them to understand local customs and practices.
- Be Inclusive: Make sure your relocation policies are inclusive in wording (use gender neutral words such as partner), and provide the LGBTQ employee’s partner the same benefits as a heterosexual partner.
- Share Resources: There are great support groups, alliance organizations, and online resources, regardless of location, that you can share with your employees when they are relocating. Make sure they know who their point of contact at the company is in case of an emergency and where to go for help, in country, if needed. Connect new assignees with other LGTBQ employees that may have moved to the area before them.
Don’t allow your company to be behind the times. Start the conversation with your leaders now, if you haven’t already, to ensure you are prepared to support that next international assignment. Help foster an accepting environment at work so that employees feel comfortable sharing pertinent information with HR partners at the time of offer. Make sure you do your research and you are well versed in the immigration and morality laws for the countries you are recruiting for. If you are thoughtful around your approach now, this will lead to a much more positive experience for your employees in the future.