We are mapping out our strategies and recruiting new members. We will be initiating programs and we will continue to present our spousal initiative to public and private sector organizations. For example, in January of 2013, we partnered with Career Coaching International (www.ccinternational.ca) to conduct an informative webinar: “creating a flexible career for the accompanying spouse” which was open to all.
Organizational support for the accompanying spouse
Foreign assignments have a direct impact on the lives of all family members. The support employees and their families receive before and during an assignment helps contribute to their success abroad. Family dynamics have changed from a generation ago. Today, dual career families are the norm, and include foreign born, same gender, common-law and male spouses. Is the support provided to these spouses keeping up with today’s world?
Studies such as Dr. Yvonne McNulty’s report entitled “’Being dumped in to sink or swim’: an empirical study of organizational support for the trailing spouse” (www.thetrailingspouse.com) reveals a common challenge faced by organizations around the world. These challenges are reflected in an organization’s ability to recruit and retain qualified employees and by the number of curtailed or failed assignments.
Time for a change:
While organizations such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) provide programs to support their employees’ families, we say there is still more that can be done. We believe it is time for a shift, a time to explore new and innovative ideas on how organizations manage this important issue. The world has changed as a result of borderless networks, seamless communications and globalization. We see this progress as an opportunity for us to not only grow as individuals; we also see the potential benefits to the organizations. Simply stated:
A happy spouse = a more productive employee = a successful assignment
Challenges of the “accompanying spouse”
Although career development of our members is at the top of our agenda, empowerment of our members is really our aim. Losing one’s identity and having difficulties in personal branding, whether you are a stay at home parent or a spouse who has made the decision to interrupt their career to follow their partner, is definitely the most discussed topic among the spousal community.
In addition, some Canadian policies create challenges for our membership. For example, non-eligibility for employment insurance, the impact of the Strengthening the Value of Canadian Citizenship Act (Bill C-37), difficulties in accessing Canadian health care, being new to Canada …. the list goes on. With almost 9% of Canadians living overseas, we believe many families are impacted.
Join us! Support those who support you:
We welcome new members, spouses and the employees of the Government of Canada and private sector organizations. We can be found at www.spouseswithoutborders.org, firstname.lastname@example.org and at our Facebook and LinkedIn groups: Spouses Without Borders.