This question was raised by an HR professional rather early in the process of framing the scope and intent of here we are. A valid question indeed. But somehow also a product of the business as usual way of thinking in organisations handling international assignments.
Business challenge A is addressed via business solution B. If the dual career issue means that partners need a job in their new country of choice then the solution must be to offer them job search support, CV review and/or 1-1 career coaching.
This kind of service is by all means nice. And for the partner entitled to this individual support it is reassuring to know that the organisation has given some thought to the challenges for couples related to moving across borders.
However, what this type of business solution falls short of is the fact that in many cases a full time paid job is not the remedy. And what one leaves behind is not only a job but a whole identity. In this perspective, the offer of individual career counseling support becomes a band aid. A means for the organisation to lend a helping hand but not an actual solution to the underlying problem; That many partners would want to find a (new) sense of purpose and live a fulfilling life abroad. To be able to still return to the job market. That the years abroad do not place you at the bottom of the pile and label you as a person not able to keep up with trends in your field or industry.
A matter of professional identity
To many global professionals it turns out that a flexible work life abroad becomes the best way of juggling life priorities – with our without a family. The opportunity to engage in local activities, undertake short term assignments, do remote work and continue education – long distance or on the ground – is likely to become an attractive modality of keeping up a CV. While being able to explore other priorities in life.
To this end, we have created here we are. As a platform to begin an exciting development journey and as a network of people sharing the vision of an interdependent supportive ecosystem of professionals that help open opportunities for each other.
Resonant relationships and social impact
So, clearly here we are is a Human Resources initiative to establish alternatives and options for partners to maintain their ‘resale value’. But why stop there? Why not go beyond problem solving and ensure that the vast potential of accompanying partners worldwide is shared with others to drive change and build skills and competencies?
In the professional development events and activities organised by here we are we interact and share knowledge, motivation and inspiration with other persons sharing a growth mindset. We build personal relations and uplift human capital. We connect global competencies with the needs of organisations. Young and experienced professionals exchange world views and stories on entrepreneurship. National and international minds cross paths. And who knows, maybe the slightest remark or genuine interest from a fellow professional can spark new ideas and lead to unknown ventures. Perhaps even long lasting bonds between people from different walks of life.
In this way, here we are becomes more than a band aid. We create the space for accompanying partners to stay active global citizens and widen the impact of a job sabbatical.
It is not either HR or CSR. It is a new way of writing the dual career narrative. As an opportunity. To develop, influence and create circles of change. Business as unusual!
Jannie Aasted Skov-Hansen is a Global HR professional and the founder of here we are.