Problems confronted by women on international assignments

The twenty first century can be an age of equality in life and at the job. Women are nowadays essential generally in most regions of managing business and executive enterprises. Gone will be the days when the certain careers were recognized as male dominated. Nowadays women are working in any way levels right from the shop floor to working the organization as CEO and chairman or should we say chairwoman. This pattern is picking pace but an area where women face unprecedented problems is when on international projects. Among the many contributing factors for such problems is the necessity to achieve the right work Life balance. The number of issues embraced by this term only crosses disciplines and traditional limitations. Various studies have been conducted before and this aspect is getting importance due to varied contributing factors such as globalisation, diversification and increased competition which has led to climb in the work pressure. At the same time more stringent work laws are getting into push to ensure that the employees are well treated and aren't subject to undue pressures at the job. Thus companies are not only forced to assign women to international functions but also to ensure that they are comfortable fulfilling them. This example is an appropriate example of a catch 22 situation and is analysed in this survey using SWOT and Infestations analysis. Ways of resolving these problems are mentioned and tips given. To conclude the article forecast and expected benefits are included to project the relative advantages and disadvantages of the tips given.

Terms of Reference

About the consultants

The author signifies a firm of established and respected management consultancy, specialising in a variety of effective and progressive Human resource solutions to clients in a broad domain of industries coping in products and services. The organization delivers a variety of personalized services to meet up with the needs of significantly growing customer foundation. The various activities undertaken by the firm are

Offer professional advice and direct assist with accentuate the client's business plan.

Enable knowledge of the key tactical and operational indications, and assisting to shape the clients business for future.

Designing and delivering business-centred answers to a comprehensive range of Human reference related issues.

Provide support for the change management, to be able to encourage technology and effective problem fixing.

Brokering partnerships with clients through facilitated and collaborative approaches.

About the Client

The client in this case is a leading IT services company. The company has issues with the recruitment and retention of women and presently more women are leaving the business than are signing up for. This report, targeted at older decision and insurance policy makers for the client, will examine feminine job in the IT sector and why women are departing the client at various factors in their employment opportunities. A adding factor to the pattern is the task of women on international assignments and the issues faced by women when rewarding their duties on these tasks. The report will also assess current practices, such as versatile attempting to encourage work-life balance, in the IT and other sectors.

The reason for the consulting activity

The client has chosen to take the services of the company that the author presents to do an in-depth research of the problems faced by ladies in the firm and in particular of those working on international assignments. The explanation for selecting the author's company is the long ranking history of delivering solutions rather than accounts and documents. Based on the earlier consulting work taken by the consultancy, the client requires a concise report within the overview of the situation, its analysis and the recommended solutions (Forester, 1999). The client needs the consultants to deliver a range of alternatives and also task the relative advantages and disadvantages of the proposed alternatives. The client will choose a remedy which it locates suitable according to its requirements.

Overview of the situation

The company aspires to be the employer of choice for IT professionals in britain. It plans to achieve this by being an equal opportunity employer. The business has invested intensely to ensure that competent people regardless of their gender, religion, ethnicity etc. are provided with training to ensure that they can be mobilized to participate in the actions at a global level. Despite their finest efforts, they are experiencing issues with the recruitment and retention of women. The existing methods, such as adaptable working, encouragement for obtaining work-life balance, etc. are failing in wake of the demanding dynamics of the business as it includes focusing on international tasks (Scullion, 1994).

The company targets having a competent and small workforce rather than employing in bulk for his or her needs. Which means company can not keep its female employees from international assignments. In that scenario, the business is dropping on its income as the ladies are not able to perform to the best of their capabilities while working on international assignments. Many feminine employees have even resigned in the light with their demanding job and the business is facing a shortage of resources to complete the international jobs.

To tackle this example, the business has hired a leading company of management consultants to deal with this problem. The company, or your client as we might call them, needs the consultants to investigate the problem to identify any opportunity of improvement that might help the firm retain the best employees and at the same time ensure that the problems they face on international projects are looked after.

Analysis of the situation

A critical requirement of such an task is thought to culture ideas, such as those of Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner; Hofstede or Hall, etc. Within the consulting project, the writer has made a decision to undertake both SWOT and Infestations analysis to obtain a deeper understanding of the condition. In higher interest of your client, the author has included a summary of the analysis tools and exactly how they are used to analyze the problem.

Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner Cultural theory

This theory address a capture 22 situation of whether internationalization will lead to the culture worldwide or should managers adapt their business to the local characteristics of the market, the legislation, the fiscal routine, the socio-political system and the social system. This balance between reliability and adaptation is essential for corporate and business success. Working women are a key human resource to many organizations in the european or developed overall economy, whereas in the east women are pretty much restricted to home work, though this is changing eventually.

Therefore, when utilizing women on international tasks, the organization must consider the social situations of the united states where the assignment is based. It is vital to help make the structure steady but it has to be done slowly and gradually. This theory is of great importance to this consulting environment as they have proven to be beneficial to a range of firms across areas and establishments such as Motorola, Royal Dutch Shell, Advanced Micro Devices, English Telecom, Applied Materials, Basic Motors, English Airways, TRW, McKinsey, A. T. Kearney, Unilever, IBM, Linde and Rockwell Automation. (Trompenaars et al, 1998)

Hofstede Cultural theory

This theory is a research-based theory of cultural differences among nations (Hofstede, 2010). It really is highly statistical in nature and constitutes of five Cultural Dimensions which are discussed as follows

Power Distance Index: It is the extent to which the less powerful participants of organizations and establishments acknowledge and expect that power is sent out unequally. This symbolizes inequality, but identified from below, not from above. It shows that a society's level of inequality is endorsed by the supporters approximately by the market leaders. The bottom line is, 'all societies are unequal, but some are usually more unequal than others'.

As expected, in the more unequal societies the total amount of electric power is more inclined to the elders and male members. In such a scenario sending women on international task in such modern culture can prove to be disastrous as the culture itself will not let the women to exercise decision making ability.

Individualism: It relates to the degree to which individuals are integrated into communities. They have two extremities i. e. individualist and the collectivist. Within the former area we find societies in which the ties between folks are loose and many people are expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. This is more dominant in traditional western countries. On the latter part, we find societies in which people from delivery onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive groups and extended families which continue guarding them in trade for unquestioning loyalty.

Individualistic societies are easier to work with women but at the same time beyond work they could feel loneliness. This may well not be a big problem in a nutshell term assignments but in long term projects this factor must be looked at for ensuring beneficial working conditions.

Masculinity: identifies the circulation of roles between the genders which is another fundamental issue for just about any population to which a range of solutions are found. Studies uncover that women's ideals change less among societies than men's ideals. The assertive pole has been called 'masculine' and the modest, caring pole 'female'. The women in female countries have the same moderate, caring principles as the men; in the masculine countries they may be somewhat assertive and competitive, however, not up to the men, so that these countries show a space between men's values and women's worth.

This is an essential factor as masculine or male dominated societies may present a hostile working environment to women dispatched there on international tasks. This can be completely different from the environment the women are used to in their regular working environment.

Uncertainty Avoidance Index: It deals with a society's tolerance for doubt and ambiguity. This implies to what magnitude the members of the culture feel uneasy or comfortable in unstructured situations. Doubt avoiding cultures try to minimize the likelihood of such situations by imposing demanding laws and rules. The opposite type i. e. doubt accepting cultures tend to be more tolerant to ideas not the same as their own.

Therefore uncertainty agreeing to cultures are usually more suitable for women.

Long-Term Orientation: It handles the beliefs associated with Long Term Orientation i. e. thrift & perseverance and the prices associated with SHORT-TERM Orientation i. e. respect for tradition, gratifying social obligations, and guarding one's 'face'.

This factor is worth focusing on when we opting for human resources for international tasks. Not only does indeed the gender play an important role when considering this factor but also the population.

SWOT ANALYSIS

As the name advises, this is a tactical planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. The tool universally suitable and it is therefore popular across academia and industry (Jackson et al, 2003). The SWOT in this particular case serves as a follows

Strengths: Characteristics of the problem that results in advantage.

Women working on international assignments as the business can utilize the entire workforce and be versatile on allocating the human resources. Thus the functions are simplified and the organizational benefits achieved (Harris, 1993).

Weaknesses: Unfavorable Characteristics of the situation.

Employing women on international projects comes with its share of disadvantages too. The problem of adjusting to a fresh environment from family is more severe for women than for men. In case there is married women or women with children, the challenge is further aggravated.

Opportunities: Characteristics that could bring about benefits both monitory and others.

Assigning women on international assignments can become more effective too. Sometimes regular work becomes too tiring and monotonous and international assignments work as a change for everyone and women are no exception to this (Harris, 2002).

Threats: Elements that might lead to trouble for the business.

Despite its show of advantages and opportunities, international assignments also present a threat to retaining the best employees. Long run assignments may lead to loss of motivation for the women employees plus they could even resign to find a more stable and less mobile job. Especially wedded women and women with kids think it is extremely hard to remain away from their families for long times.

Thus, Identification of SWOT is vital to ensure that the envisioned process may be effectively produced from them and any shortcomings addressed beforehand (Mathur-Helm, 2002).

PESTAL ANALYSIS

Another point of view of analysis is PESTAL, which can be an abbreviation for 'Political, Economic, Public, Technological, Environmental and Legal' examination (Walsh, 2005). It works in another way to SWOT as the factors of account are different. But it goes without saying they are dependent upon each other.

Political: They are the factors relating to how and what degree a federal government intervenes in the working of the business. These factors include but are not restricted to tax policy, labor legislations, environmental regulation, trade restrictions, tariffs, and politics stability.

Some countries propagate equality while others have severe laws and regulations against employing women. Therefore before mailing the women worker to these countries, the business must be sure that the political factors don't work against the employee.

Economic: These factors include economical growth, interest levels, exchange rates and the inflation rate.

Though these factors don't immediately have an effect on the preposition of sending women on international projects, the company should ensure that the financial interests of the ladies employee aren't affected adversely.

Social: These factors are the cultural aspects and include health consciousness, society growth rate, years distribution, career behaviour and emphasis on safety.

These factors immediately have an effect on women employees as they not simply work during an international assignment with people from that country but also stay in the business of locals. Therefore any social disturbances can badly affect their production.

Technological: These factors include technological aspects such as R&D, automation, technology incentives and the speed of technological change.

It is a extensively acknowledged principle that technologically advanced places have an improved perception and openness to women working in the industry. Therefore modern and officially advanced societies have better potential clients for ladies on international tasks.

Environmental: These factors include ecological and environmental aspects such as weather, local climate, and climate change, which might especially affect market sectors such as tourism, farming, and insurance.

Environmental factors have a great effect on the mental and physical health of most people and women employees are no exception to the. Therefore before assigning women to attempt international assignments, the organization must consider medical factors.

Legal: These factors include discrimination law, consumer regulation, antitrust law, employment law, and health and safety law.

Especially the discrimination and career regulations are of major concern when employing women to focus on international tasks. Therefore these factors too should be taken into consideration during such projects.

Solutions and recommendations

For the given problem, the writer has considered various cultural theories and analytical tools to analyze the problem statement. Predicated on these activities, the author recommends, the following alternatives in no order of main concern or importance

Short term assignments: The firm might want to send women only on short-term assignments. It might be useful in smaller assignments but in much larger assignments when the know-how of certain women employees is necessary, it can be an adverse policy.

Assignments in specific countries: The company may enforce a policy of mailing women and then specific countries where the working environment is more favorable to the women. This may end up being harmful to the idea of globalization and reliability as the employees may lose out on useful experience and exposure that they may apply in other tasks.

Benefits and support: The company might want to provide additional benefits and support to the ladies employees dispatched on international assignments. The firm has to decide that whenever offering these benefits, they shouldn't violate similar treatment rights of these guy counterparts.

Interview and reviews: Involve the ladies employees along the way of creating a much better working environment when focusing on international assignments. This may be especially useful whenever we take their inputs as well as their feedback on the other solutions proposed here in.

Do not send women on international projects: This can be an obvious answer to the situation but it could even lead to more problems in the foreseeable future. The male employees may believe that their personal lives are not being given enough importance as the women employees may feel it to be always a stereotyped and prejudiced decision. Thus this solution, though very obvious is at the same time the most dangerous too.

Forecasts and outcomes

It is envisioned that the in depth analysis performed in this project will permit the firm to consider educated decisions on assigning women to international projects. The various ideas made in the previous section have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. Further research including one-on-one interviews with the ladies employees in the organization needs to be undertaken to get insights into this issue. It could so happen that the condition is not as grave as it seems on the outside. The women employees may themselves be able to suggest solutions that could enable them to satisfy their duties on the international assignment. The clear solution of not sending the women worker on international tasks can prove to be a tragedy as discussed in the previous section which is therefore not recommended. The author thinks that a further investigation involving the women employees is necessary to ensure that your choice on the coverage are in the best interests of both the organization and the employees.

References

Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner, Traveling the Waves of Culture, McGraw Hill Professional Reserve Group, 1998

Prof. Geert Hofstede, What exactly are Hofstede's five Cultural Sizes?

Available from: http://www. geert-hofstede. com/

Accesses: 6th January 2011

Susan E. Jackson, Aparna Joshi and Niclas L. Erhardt, Recent Research on Team and Organizational Diversity: SWOT Evaluation and Implications, Journal of Management 2003; 29; 801. The online version of this article are available at: http://jom. sagepub. com/cgi/content/abstract/29/6/801

PR Walsh, Coping with the uncertainties of environmental change by adding scenario planning to the strategy reformulation equation, Management Decision, 2005 - emeraldinsight. com

N Forster, Another 'Cup Roof'?: The Experiences of Women Experts and Professionals on International Tasks; Gender, Work & Company, 1999 - interscience. wiley. com

H Scullion, Staffing guidelines and proper control in English multinationals, International Studies of Management & Firm, 1994 - questia. com

H Harris, Think international manager, think guy: What makes women not decided on for international management tasks?, Thunderbird International Business Review, 2002 - interscience. wiley. com

H Harris, Ladies in international management: opportunity or menace?, Ladies in Management Review, 1993 - emeraldinsight. com

B Mathur-Helm, Expatriate women managers: at the crossroads of success, difficulties and profession goals, Women in Management Review, 2002 - emeraldinsight. com

NJ Adler, Competitive frontiers: Women taking care of across edges, Journal of Management Development, 1994 - emeraldinsight. com

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