Last month I was invited to add an expert perspective at the end of The RES Forum’s report on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in post-pandemic global work. On a professional level I was honoured to participate. As the daughter of a merchant navy navigation officer, I was also delighted to see so many maritime analogies in the paper. For example, what was putting ‘the wind in the sails’ of DE&I? And what would be a ‘safe harbour’ for one and all?
A sea change
I decided to begin my article by recalling how, many years ago, gender bias led to partner support being taken more seriously. It’s true. When some multinationals on-boarded their first female expats, the attitude was: ‘We can’t expect a man to sit next to the pool with a glass of wine – we need him to find a job!’
Rise with the tide
At the time, Global Connection was in its relative infancy. We decided not to take the above attitude personally. Instead we gladly used the momentum to push the topic of spousal support. Today, I am hopeful that appreciation for the importance of partner support will further rise, this time with the tide of DE&I-related discussions. If we all agree that every individual should have access to opportunity, fairness and justice, then partner support cannot be a flex benefit. It’s for everyone. How could it be any other way?
Navigating uncharted waters
In the end it doesn’t matter if a partner is 24 years old and fresh out of university, a mother of three who has never had a professional career, a gay researcher with a PhD, or a devout Christian moving to a Muslim country, or vice versa. Each one has left their network and comfort zone behind. If someone feels marginalised for any reason (their race, religious belief, sexuality, professional status), we’re there to help them to take positive steps, form new networks and find their place in society. For us, there is no ‘in-group’. Every partner is an individual trying to navigate uncharted (and possibly stormy) waters, and we’re there to help them find their ‘safe harbour’.
Spirit of equality
So it is our hope the increased attention on DE&I will lead to spousal support becoming a primary employment condition for LGBTQ+ partners. Should that come to pass, it would mean that non-LGBTQ+ partners will also benefit. As it would be in the spirit of equality that everyone be granted the same rights.