A cross-sectional, qualitative research approach draws upon in-depth semi-structured interviews with 14 Human Resources equality/diversity policy implementers and 26 current female expatriates in two oil and gas firms.
This purpose of this paper is to examine how female expatriates interpret the effectiveness of practical implementation of equality/diversity policies, trusting this to support their expatriate careers.
Early-career stage female expatriates believe that equality/diversity policy implementation will support their international careers. At the most senior levels, women expatriates highlight unequal treatment breaching their trust in delivery of equality/diversity principles to support their expatriate career progression.
Longitudinal research is needed to assess how early-career women expatriates’ willingness to trust in organisational equality/diversity principles alters as their careers progress, and the effects of any changing trust relations on their contributions to organisational strategic objectives. Larger senior female expatriate samples are needed to research links between trust relations and turnover.
Organisations must weigh up benefits from using transparent expatriate selection processes versus less formal mechanisms, if informal processes are not to undermine espoused equality interventions. Unconscious bias training should form part of wide-ranging programmes to tackle discrimination. Senior managerial action with embedded accountability is needed.
Exploring the rhetoric and reality of equality/diversity policy implementation on women comprising a minority expatriate group, this research demonstrates women expatriates’ early-career trust in gender equality falls away as they first recognise and then accept diminishing female expatriate senior grade representation and the implications for their expatriate careers. Should turnover result, this could detrimentally affect organisational expatriate gender diversity objectives.