Permits Foundation International Symposium: A Decisive Time to Support Family Access to Employment in Global Mobility Policy07 November 2017
This is a short overview of Permits Foundation’s biennial conference Family Matters in Global Mobility held in London on 12 October where high level speakers from both business and government emphasised that now is the time to speak up for dual careers in the global workplace.
You can read the full conference summary here
Permits Foundation Executive Director Michiel van Campen opened the event with an overview of the Foundation. His presentation showed why having a broad, diverse base of sponsors from the public and the private sector is so important to making an impact in achieving legislative change. Examples of how Permits Foundation carries out its advocacy work were given and country priorities were listed.
Speakers stressed the need for a humane approach to migration policy, the benefits this would bring to economy and society and the need for business to speak up rather than advocate behind the scenes as has traditionally been the case. Our sponsor organisations spoke about the importance of dual careers and diversity in relation to corporate social responsibility, how they have implemented this in practice why they support the work of Permits Foundation in order to improve dual career prospects.
With Unilever one of the founding members of Permits Foundation, we were extremely pleased to be able to show our delegates this video message from our Patron Leena Nair, Chief HR Officer and Member of Unilever Leadership Executive (ULE) UK.
(Video Permits Foundation: All Rights Reserved)
Our guest speakers from Permits Foundation priority countries spoke warmly about the work of the Foundation and detailed potential policy changes expected in relation to the visa programme in India and the White Paper on international migration in South Africa. We also heard how our sponsors look to improve spouse access to employment, with the business perspective from China provided by Volkswagen.
The conference looked at areas where the Foundation has seen policy success (the UK, US and EU) but where recent political change might pose a risk of roll-back. With Brexit very much in peoples’ minds, we heard from Professor Manning, Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) about the call for evidence on the economic and social impact of the UK’s exit from the EU and opportunities for dialogue after the consultation deadline of 27 October.
In the US we learned from CFGI that we can expect some tightening of regulations around migration which might have an impact on spouse access to employment, in particular the H4 visa. We were updated on the EU Blue Card. Jean Lambert MEP highlighted the concern shared by Permits Foundation that in the proposed revision, family members may be subject to a labour market test before being granted access to work.
Permits Foundation will be continuing our advocacy work in all of these countries and will keep our sponsors updated on progress. For more information on how and where we advocate, please take a look at our sponsor brochure.
Questions from the Floor
We had a good round of questions from conference attendees with topics ranging from how to advocate in challenging policy environments and how to press the importance of the issue to governments where enabling dual careers is less of a priority. In particular there was an interest in how sponsors could get more engaged – what windows of opportunity existed and how evidence could be provided by business.
In the closing section of the conference, we heard from Founding Board Member Katy van der Wilk Carlton, who reflected on her time at Permits Foundation since setting it up in 2001 and on the opportunities ahead as she hands the Executive Director baton forward to Michiel. We look forward to continuing our work with Katy and capitalising on her experience as she will remain on the Permits Foundation Board.
Regarding Brexit, Permits Foundation Chair and Schlumberger Human Resources Director Gill Gordon announced that the Foundation will be carrying out its own survey in the coming months sponsors and other stakeholders will be invited to participate.
The take home points from the conference:
- Enabling family members of highly-skilled employees to access employment helps significantly in the attraction and retention of talent, bringing about a triple win for families, business and governments.
- Global businesses are looking to enable dual careers in their work environments because they recognise the benefits from a number of perspectives – CSR, diversity and inclusion, better integration, economic growth.
- The global political landscape around migration is changing and business needs to make its voice heard, to underpin the benefits that migration brings to economy and society.
- Permits Foundation advocacy and evidence gathering provides that opportunity.
- Businesses should respond to the MAC Consultation. Permits Brexit survey will be out soon.
- Advocacy in our priority countries is ongoing. Opportunities to support our work will be conveyed to sponsors in our news alerts, online and via social media.
- The network supporting the Foundation is crucial to its success, showing government that there is a broad base of support for what we are striving for. We thank our sponsors for their (financial) contribution and ask other corporations looking to promote dual careers in the global work place to join us.
The conference was hosted by our sponsors at PwC.
We would like to thank the speakers, delegates, sponsors and patrons for their contributions to Permits Foundation.
For any questions about the conference, please do get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org