Diversity & Inclusion Series, Part 6: Promoting Diversity in International Mobility by Reframing a Question


In our final part of our Diversity and Inclusion series, we have selected a sample of iconic and measurably impactful behavioral designs, targeting both staff members and managers, at different moments of the employee experience.

Note that the BVA Nudge Consulting’s behavioral design interventions will generally involve a combination of nudges, so as to maximize impact. We also support companies to more broadly build behaviorally-informed organizations.

This example, extracted from the Inclusion Nudge Guidebook, is targeting women as candidates for international assignments.

About international mobility and diversity

International mobility is key for career development at many multinational companies, but women typically appear to be less mobile than men.  This is a key moment where gaps in diversity and inclusion arise, as this has the downstream effect of reducing the number of women progressing to the most senior positions.  Companies are beginning to explore different possibilities to solve this, including putting less value on international experience. But why not first check that women are indeed less mobile?

The specific case and behavioral diagnosis

In one organization, staff members were only proposed international assignments if they had previously answered “yes” to the question “Are you internationally mobile?”. Reviewing the data, less women answered yes than men did. The findings were that the question was perceived differently by men and women. Women typically interpreted “internationally mobility” as more of a total engagement to a full and immediate relocation than men did – which raised a lot of questions and concerns linked to personal and family life arrangements.

Generally speaking, this is an example of how men and women interpret words and sentences differently.

The behavioral design

Rephrasing the key question from “Are you internationally mobile?” to “Will you consider an international assignment at some point in the future?” led to 25% more women being classified as internationally mobile.

The main lever for success

Framing communication elements has proved to be key in the promotion of gender diversity.  By tweaking the language to more accurately reflect the future-focused nature of the possibility of an international move, it opened the door to being more inclusive.

If you missed them, check out the different parts from our Diversity and Inclusion Series: Why Behavioral Science for Diversity?How to Apply Behavioral Science for DiversityBehavioral Science Outputs for DiversityMind Your Language #WOMEN4STEMReducing the Impact of Stereotypes During Performance Reviews and Reducing the Gender Pay Gap by Reducing Ambiguity around Negotiating Salary.

In this case study series, we have chosen a range of examples that are both impactful and which play on various levers: framing, default option, messenger effect, and many more. To learn more, please contact us.