Whilst there is little data on mobility by race or ethnicity, we can say that only around 20% of expatriates are women. This may stem from the expectation that women are the primary care givers within a family, but it highlights that businesses may not be doing enough to enable women to take advantage of opportunities, irrespective of their domestic situation.

It is unsurprising then that a Deloitte survey found that only 10% of global mobility teams are active in DE&I discussions. Or that only 15% actively track DE&I data for global mobility. But with international experience having clear benefits for leadership skills, an opportunity for more diverse leaders is being missed.

So, what can you do to bring the global picture in-line with the local one? How do you ensure consistent experience and standards throughout your business? And why does it matter?

Benefits of DE&I.

From cultural to neurodiversity, a varied team with different characteristics, identities and experiences can be a big business win.  Not only does it allow you to access a larger talent pool, leveraging the expertise of a diverse workforce can increase innovation by up to 20% according to the World Economic Forum.

Another important reason to incorporate DE&I initiatives is that they align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as well as support your Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) programme. It’s all connected…

We all want to be an attractive employer, and DE&I is a great way to improve your reputation.

Get some figures.

So, where to begin? The first place to start is to actively track DE&I information through your global mobility programme. This provides a clear starting point and give you a deeper understanding of how your company is performing.

This can often be one of the most daunting steps to take. But it does present an opportunity to start a dialogue with your internal teams to get them onboard at an early point.

Focus on outcomes, not actions.

All too often DE&I has been reduced to a series of checkboxes which, when complete, means that the job’s done. Right?

Well, that’s often not the case in the places it matters. With the people on the ground.

Once you have data of where your business is, the next step should be where you need to go. What SHOULD your global mobility proposition deliver? Which groups within your business are underrepresented within the expatriate cohort?

Asking questions like this will start to give you an appreciation of who is currently being left behind by your programmes and therefore who needs your help the most.

With that established, it’s time to engage with those groups within your business. You need to understand what blocks, real of perceived, are stopping them from taking these global positions and how you can help.

Build it in.

With what you plan to do and who for established, it’s time to break that down into steps, and integrate that within your business.

This will require that you work to deeply connect both your global mobility and DE&I processes from a top-level down. Establishing then refining policy frameworks and procedures which will ensure the successful delivery of desired outcomes.

You will need to ensure that this isn’t done solely as an HR directive. The Global Mobility teams within your business, and any third parties who you work with, will have invaluable insight and experience. By developing this aspect of your DE&I strategy in this way, you give it the greatest probability of long-term success by listening to those doing the job at a local level.

DE&I Training & Integration.

This isn’t as simple as getting your global mobility team on a course. They should be having those already.

We’re talking here about the teams where expatriates will be arriving. DE&I is not a global standard, it is a highly localised concept with members of the same country in different countries having wildly different expectations. Without care and thought going into this aspect of a relocation, problems can easily be built in.

So, ensuring a global level of best practice and training all members of your team to that standard is the first step. It is also wise to develop a programme to help new arrivals settle and integrate both with their new colleagues and new home. This can include assigning a local “buddy” within the office for each expat, arranging social events, and giving localisation, as well as language training.


With all of this in place, you need to let your team know. Be clear where global mobility schemes have been unsuccessful previously and what you are looking to achieve now. Then ensure that you clearly let the target groups know that these opportunities are for them.

A good communications drive should be about letting members of your team know what they can be doing and how they can do it. Crucially, you should also address the common concerns and issues which under-represented groups raised to you previously. Acknowledge that these have been issues, then explain how they’ve been fixed.

Finally, book in a timeline for where and when feedback will be sought on the success of this new DE&I initiative. Make space and time to review how this is doing and then to refine what you’re doing even further.

For too long DE&I has been disconnected with global mobility programmes. In leaving it out, many will have missed out on invaluable life and professional experience. But, with care and by listening to those affected, we can ensure that this is no longer the case.

If you would like support in improving your global mobility programmes, especially with the relocation and integration of expatriate staff, then ABRA members can help.








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Well, the first step is to build a plan of action to make your business a sustainable service provider. However, knowing where to start can be a challenge.

Thankfully EuRA, in collaboration with the Coalition for Greener Mobility, has produced a new white paper covering sustainable development goals for Destination Service Providers (DSPs). This includes details of the framework DSPs should use to develop and meet sustainability goals in all areas of their business.

The aim is to help you create your own Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) programme. It will help your business look beyond financial goals and begin to develop value within society. Part of this includes considering then managing environmental sustainability and social responsibility issues. An effective ESG programme should also describe how you monitor and review your performance and manage your business.

We recommend that ABRA members develop and adopt an ESG programme as a matter of best practice. To get you started, here are our top take aways from each section of the EuRA Sustainability White Paper.

Environmental Sustainability

A good ESG programme should be built into the fabric of your business. Your environmental planning should consider every operational perspective of your business, from the office to service delivery.

Within the office, consider:

  • Power suppliers – choosing suppliers who provide renewable energy has never been easier. This will have an instant impact on your business’s carbon footprint.
  • Paper consumption – the world has never been more digital. It’s worth taking the time to see which of your business practices can be taken fully digital. Moving away from printing unnecessarily will not only protect natural resources, but also save your business money in paper purchases and storage solutions.
  • Training – Ensuring that your team is fully up to date with business policy and best practices will help minimise your carbon footprint.

Service delivery can also have a strong impact on how sustainable your business is:

  • Work with the right people – ensure that you’re working with other companies who share your sustainability goals. If they don’t, provide them with guidelines covering your requirements and support them to become compliant with your needs.
  • Help your assignee – Providing information on public transport, sustainable power suppliers and recycling options will help your assignee start sustainably.
  • Consider how you move – Is it possible to use public transport or even to cycle for your team? Can service delivery occur at the weekend when traffic may be lower? By being conscious and minimising use of fossil fuelled powered vehicles, you can cut carbon emissions and save money.

Social Sustainability

The social side of an ESG programme is where you consider how your business impacts wider society. We’re not just talking about the environment though, this is also about the wellbeing and quality of life of customers, assignees and suppliers.

By considering what impact your business has on the lives of others, you can quickly develop a plan to be a positive force within your community.

  • Take care of your team – look at ensuring your team has a positive work life balance, that vacation means time off, not less calls, and that stress is kept to a minimum. You should also ensure that you’re providing an environment where your staff can develop skills and feel fairly compensated for their time.
  • Financial transparency – create and enforce equal pay and payment best practice policies. Also allocate annual budget to train your team and to achieve the business’s ESG goals.
  • Bring your customers along – inform and educate your customers on sustainability best practices. Making your own ESG programme easily accessible and a prominent part of your messaging can help here too.
  • Encourage your community – by actively engaging with your local community, your business can be a force for good for all. This can take the form of charitable work, sponsorships, internships or encouraging employees to let you know what the business could be involved in.


All DSPs are subject to checks, best practices, areas of compliance, reporting and policies to ensure their ethical and legal operation. ESG governance ensures accurate reporting, transparency of operations whilst pursuing integrity and diversity within leadership.

Key areas to think about within your business include:

  • Compliance – consider the policies and practices your business needs to follow. This can include GDPR, anti-money laundering and anti-bribery policies.
  • ESG/Sustainability Advocacy and Ownership – The success of any far-reaching policy hinges on consistent implementation. Tasking one or members of your team to own and implement the ESG programme is a great step towards success.
  • Risk Management – it’s crucial that you consider factors inside and outside your own business. Completing risk assessment of suppliers, partners and your own workforce will give you a clearer picture of business vulnerabilities and ways you and others can improve.
  • Write it down – Your entire ESG programme should be documented and available. There’s no point in creating a policy unless everyone who needs it can access and use it.

If you’d like to read the white paper in full, you can request your copy from the EuRA website. The EuRA sustainability framework is a living document, so it doesn’t cover every possible situation. If you think something important is missing, we’d love to hear about it to get it added to future versions.

ABRA is working towards our own ESG programme, which we aim to have in place during 2024. Our Sustainability Committee will define the programme roadmap, and objectives. Once completed, we will pass this on to all members and make it available to all.

If you would like to help with this process, then members may join our Sustainability Committee. If you would like more information, please contact us here.

You also might enjoy EuRA’s Sustainability Training Series, an interactive webinar programme. To find out more, or to access the session recordings, visit EuRA.

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The Paradox of Sustainable Mobility

The concept of sustainable mobility might appear paradoxical at first. After all, moving expats around the world involves flights, home searches, shipping of goods and all sorts of other activities great and small that create harmful emissions. Processing residency applications uses electricity, computers need replacing as they age, and what about those hyperscale data centres that keep us in the cloud?

Identifying the environmental impact of an entire value chain is a bit like identifying the length and thread count of a piece of string. Where does it begin and where does it end? How many fibres are entwined? Thankfully, there are organisations out there who will help you calculate everything from the product environmental footprint of the soft drinks your company fridge stocks to the impact of all those emails you are sending and receiving, should you be inclined to find out such things.

And indeed, with so much technology at our fingertips we can work effectively from pretty much anywhere in the world, so reducing global moves seems a quick environmental win. Why relocate at all?

I’d be preaching to the choir if I tried to explain the importance of global mobility to our loyal readership and how it contributes to creating successful, and indeed sustainable, teams. Yes, mobility incurs emissions, and yes, we must try and lower them in every way we can. But there are many ways in which we can do our bit for the planet without sentencing ourselves to a world in which all business is conducted by video link.

Net-Zero Emissions

It will not have passed you by that, especially in the wake of COP26, there is a lot of talk about achieving net-zero. Briefly put, a company achieves net-zero emissions when its activities and those of its value chain have zero impact on climate and help limit global warming to 1,5 degrees. It essentially means we are doing no further harm.

According to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), this can be achieved by assessing a company’s impact across three categories, or scopes. Scope 1 covers direct emissions: fuels used for production, vehicles, etc. Scope 2 takes indirect emissions into account, such as energy used for heating (or cooling) buildings and powering those laptops. Scope 3 involves emissions up and down the value chain, which includes all services and products bought or sold.

Achieving scopes 1 and 2 is (theoretically speaking) relatively easy if you’re in service delivery. It means banning use of all fossil fuels by introducing a fully electrified fleet and using renewable energy to heat, cool, and power your facility (and fleet). Achieving scope 3 is more complex, as we must start taking all activities into account.

Because what is the environmental footprint of updating beds, sofas, and curtains if you’re a serviced housing provider? What happens to your moving trucks when you replace them? What type of investments does your company pension plan make on your behalf? Is the paper in your printer fsc certified? What type of energy powers your local town hall? Your mobile provider? And how ‘green’ are the pigments in the crayons your students use?

How long precisely is your piece of string and what is your baseline measure?

Moonshot Missions

Suffice to say, there’s an awful lot to consider when it comes to achieving net-zero emissions. There are countless industry spearheads who are making great strides towards achieving net-zero and their commitment and efforts should be applauded and encouraged. But at the same time, we ought to take a broader view of sustainability. Not only does it make sustainability feel less like a moonshot mission, it’s also infinitely more beneficial to our planet. Because net-zero only looks at carbon emissions and there is so much more that threatens our way of life.

In just 50 short years, Earth Overshoot Day (the day each year upon which we have used up more resources than our planet has to offer) has shifted from December (1971) to July (2022). If we want to sustain today’s lifestyle, we need not one, but 1.75 planets Earth. In other words, we are depleting our planet’s resources faster than it can regenerate them. And that’s just our natural resources.

Biodiversity loss is accelerating at an alarming rate and is widely recognised as an even bigger threat than climate change. And despite the impetus created by movements such as #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, the daily reality is that socio-economic inequality remains on the rise. So, much as net-zero emissions must be achieved (and not just by way of carbon compensation programmes), it only covers a small part of the global solution.

Understanding Sustainability

It is perhaps important to revisit the definition of sustainability at this point. The dictionary tells us that something is sustainable when it can be maintained at a certain rate or level. It can fulfil the needs of current generations without compromising those of future generations. And this doesn’t just mean environmental sustainability, it means sustainable economic growth and a healthy, cohesive society too. But if we’re depleting our planet to the point that we need an Earth-and-three-quarters to fulfil today’s needs, then shouldn’t we be looking to give back more than we take? And this means giving back on all fronts, not just natural resources.

Back in 2021, Joeri Van den Bergh of InSites Consulting explained sustainability to us in words we could understand: “Sustainability becomes clearer when you divide it into three components: better for me (organic, natural, additive free, etc.), better for the planet (emissions, biodiversity, recycling, etc.) and better for society (fair wages, child labour, gender equality, etc.).”

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals

This is where the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals come into play. The UN has identified no less than 17 interlinked objectives designed to serve as a ‘shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future’. These Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, offer a roadmap to all the ways in which we can help contribute to a better world for all.

Belgium comes in ahead of the global curve on the SDGs. We have access to clean water and good sanitation; we enjoy quality healthcare and an educational system that sets us up for job opportunities and solid economic growth. Our cities and communities are becoming increasingly sustainable, with green parks replacing swathes of urban concrete.

There are all manner of platforms that help us reduce food waste, share bikes, cars and scooters, and we enjoy widespread access to public transport. We have access to clean energy (although the energy crisis means its affordability is debatable) and live in a peaceful nation with a fair justice system. Gay marriage is a legal right and women enjoy leading positions in both the private and public sectors (though equal pay remains an issue).


The Positive Compass

We might have a lot going for us, but we face some major issues too. Anxiety and depression are on the rise, one in 10 children in Belgium lives in extreme poverty, and despite the so-called ‘betonstop’ ten football pitches of open space disappear annually. As a society, we need to challenge ourselves to not just do no further harm, but to restore, regenerate, and make the world a better place altogether. Businesses have an important role to play here.

Our September Member Meeting keynote speaker Niels de Fraguier introduced a dynamic and holistic approach to making change happen. The Positive Compass is a great way of making sense of what being an ethical organisation means. It details how you can be part of the global solution by becoming a regenerative business. Built on five key pillars – Purpose, Planet, People, Partners, Places – it helps identify key areas in which you and your organisation can start making a difference.

Take advantage of The Positive Compass’s free toolkits; they are invaluable if you want to become a purpose driven organisation that leverages business as a force for good.

Empowering Transformational Change

When we hold the Positive Compass pillars up against the SDGs, becoming a sustainable, regenerative business starts looking less like having to scale Mount Everest and more like trekking up Ben Nevis. Introduce volunteer days where team members give back to the community or clean up flyaway litter. Plant a Tiny Forest next to your office and give local biodiversity a boost. Add a beehive or two and replace the sugar in your canteen with your own honey (it’s healthier and doesn’t get more local than this). Introduce a great mental health plan for team members. Be an equal opportunities employer. Involve your team and brainstorm all the ways in which you too can become a more sustainable organisation.

The opportunities are endless, and it is up to you to take action. So that the next time you receive an RFP that requires clarification on your sustainability efforts, you’ll be able to say you are taking positive action to not only reduce your organisation’s environmental footprint but to improve the world around you. Of course, the impact of each individual business is different, and a shipping company will need to do more than introduce a butterfly garden in the office parking lot to offset the impact of shipping a container halfway around the world. We must each uncover our own baselines and build from there.

using business as a force for good

Sustainability Symposium EuRA Dublin 2023

Creating sustainability in mobility is a massive task and not one any one company can tackle alone. It’s why mobility industry associations EuRA, WERC, CERC, FIDI Global Alliance, IAM and CHPA have joined forces to create a Sustainability in Mobility Coalition. They have spent the past year working alongside each other to develop a pioneering approach to helping their members across disciplines achieve their sustainability goals.

ABRA, the Association of Belgian Relocation Agents, is proud to support their work as an Affiliate Coalition Member. If you are attending the upcoming EuRA Relocation Conference in Dublin this April, then be sure to join the Symposium on Tuesday the 25th to learn what has been done already and how we can implement best practices.

We hope to see you there!





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