This week on the LID Publishing Blog, we will be hearing from some of the inspirational women we work with and finding out their thoughts on this year’s theme #BalanceforBetter. Today, we hear from Katia Vlachos, author of A Great Move.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you in terms of Sharing Knowledge?
In my work as a coach, I support expats making international moves, changing careers and struggling with relationship challenges. Most often my clients are women – talented, highly educated women – who, as a result of following their partners on successive expat moves, end up feeling lost, disconnected from their professional identities and no longer confident in their own abilities. Many also feel that they don’t have a choice but to follow their partners – and take care of their families – and view themselves as being selfish if they decide to give more primacy to their own needs, especially if this involves pursuing their career or finding fulfilment through other activities.
Sharing knowledge for me means spreading awareness within this community of expat women that, even though it may seem that there’s no choice, there always is a choice. You just have to be able to see it. Doing so means learning to feel empowered to make conscious choices and shape one’s future. It means shifting one’s mindset, from victim to choice and possibility.
Why do you think it is important to have a balance of men and women in business teams?
There have been several recent studies on the benefits of gender diversity in improving the performance of business teams. Realizing these benefits in global organizations means that more women need to take on expat assignments. Today, the majority (around three quarters) of expatriates are men. While the number of women expats is gradually increasing, there are still many more women willing to go abroad than are actually being offered international assignments. Given that international experience is so valuable for leadership development and career advancement and given that having women on global teams is so beneficial, not giving women equal opportunities to take advantage of that experience is a big waste of valuable talent.
The consequences of this imbalance can be devastating for women. Many smart, ambitious, highly qualified female professionals either are not given the opportunities or end up moving abroad as expat partners (to avoid the less flattering term ‘trailing spouses’) and often either give up their career or allow it to take a back seat to that of their partners’. Some of these women manage to rebuild and reinvent their careers – often as entrepreneurs – but many don’t. That needs to change.
Katia’s professional background is in policy analysis. She holds a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a PhD from the RAND Corporation. Katia is a seasoned expat herself, having lived in eight cities, seven countries and three continents in the past 20 years, and currently lives in Zurich, Switzerland.
About the book
More than 50 million people live and work outside their native countries – and the numbers are growing
- According to a survey by PwC, 71% of Millennials want and expect an overseas assignment during their career.
- A Great Move treats an international move as a multi-stage process.
- Offers a systematic approach to help reduce the risk of failure, but also increase the likelihood that expatriates and their families will thrive through the transition.
- Grounded in rigorous research on the foundations of successful intercultural transitions, A Great Moveis soundly practical in its approach and presentation.
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