This week, Patrycja builds on her latest post about successful strategies for dual career couples and looks at how inclusive talent management brings long lasting positive effects to organisations as well.

By Patrycja Riera, CEO, Inclusionem

Following my post on dual career couples a few weeks back, I thought more about the topic from the organizational point of view.

On one hand, it is a couple’s responsibility to make dual careers work, though on the other hand, companies need to re-think how they design and implement talent pipelines to accommodate the needs of high performing professionals.

There are many high potentials in organizations that are not only committed to their careers, but also to their partner’s careers and the idea of one spouse working while the other stays at home, is often not valid.

Unfortunately, most companies still don’t understand the new normal and how to reinvent their talent management processes to accommodate those needs.

There is a substantial investment in individuals and their leadership growth, only to have them resign when challenged with their lack of flexibility and mobility.

A new organisational mindset

a new organisational mindest

We have set up our processes and expectations in a fixed way, exactly how we designed it 30 years ago, with one understanding what ambition looks like or who works and who stays at home.

It might have worked in the past, but it certainly does not work anymore.

We asked people to advance their careers and growth in a certain way, often by moving around the world, but now, for those who prioritize relationship, it not as easy to move ahead.

The one thing that many high performing individuals need, is to take under consideration the whole them, including the personal side when designing career trajectories.

Therefore, organizations do need to adapt more creative and flexible strategies for managing, attracting, retaining and developing the future leaders.

Most of the time what high potentials want is to grow and advance in their organization without sacrificing the careers of their partners.

So, what exactly do we need? We need more inclusive talent management strategies and processes.   

Inclusive Talent Management

Don't waste talent

In order for companies to be able to design a path for high potentials, companies need to take into account two things:

  • What is it that is needed for an individual to achieve growth and advancement
  • Create a culture of flexibility in the talent development process.

This often means a new talent management strategy and processes, although, often it is about changing the mindset on how we think about career growth in terms of time and place and creating a culture of flexibility.

What matters to your team matters to the organisation


Step one is to recognize what matters to the individual and why instead of where. It is time to stop worrying about where in the world we grow our leaders and start to think about the skills and networks to be acquired.

When we shift focus from “where” to “what”, we create a range of other possibilities in order to acquire a specific skill.

This can include a brief job swap, commuter or short-term assignments in different parts of the organization. For example, job swaps or short-term assignments can develop skills, perspectives and networks and avoid easily the mobility challenge.

Managing dual career expectations

To accommodate the needs of dual career couples, companies often propose partial commute leadership roles, allowing one to work 3-4 days a week in one location and the remaining time at home.

In the past this might not have been favored, as often people saw it as a lack of commitment, but the 5-days-a-week in-the-office type of leader is long gone.

Today’s world, especially after the COVID-19 crisis, looks differently. More people are asking or will be asking for these types of opportunities, and we have realized globally have the technology to support it.

This is very much supported by the current research showing that people who telecommute don’t work less but rather more and are more productive than those in the office.

In case family relocation takes place, some companies decide to create a two-way headhunter’s day, where partners can connect with recruiters and receive information about placement support.

Speaking from my own experience, I have moved twice to a different country for my husband’s promotion and I would have loved that kind of support.

This would definitely make my “search for a job”, in a country where I didn’t speak the language or understood how job/market or recruitment works, much easier since that is different in every continent.  

A cross cultural approach

cross cultural workplaces

When re-designing talent strategies, policies can easily be blocked culturally.

Every part of the world has a different point of view and implementing those strategies in some parts of the world might take longer than in others.

Generational differences are key as well, especially for leaders from the unbounded generation, who believe that the dual career couple conversation is not what an organization should be concerned about.

None of this will be possible if there is no culture of flexibility.

Leaders must be educated and understand the new challenges companies face with retaining top talent, how to keep and nurture it.

In order to change the mindset of those leaders, some companies try reverse mentoring, where the high potentials mentor the executives.

And it has been proven that when companies broaden their leaders’ perspectives, there are changes in attitudes and beliefs about working flexibly.

I believe this is important not only from a talent management point of view; but to accelerate women to top level positions as well.

Latest research shows that men whose wives are working professionally are less likely to discriminate women in their organizations and more likely to facilitate their career growth as they understand in a more personal way and are, therefore, more supportive.

Companies cannot afford dismissing this topic, as word gets around, and individuals will choose to work for organizations and leaders that live out this flexibility.

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