Together with our partner Blenders and financed by ESF we aim to empower higher educated women with a migration background towards a more sustainable career
Research shows a gap in labour-market participation of about 10% between higher-educated women without and higher-educated women with a background in migration (which we can only trace back to the second generation). With the project One of Us, we wanted to understand why that is, and foremost, we want to develop supportive services to overcome the obstacles at stake.
In the framing phase, we tried to understand the origins of this gap, we researched with al stakeholders (higher-educated women with a background in migration, employers and intermediary organizations) what obstacles cause this mismatch. For the women as well as for the employers the most prominent keys seemed to be; network, habits and knowledge of supportive services.
On the one hand, higher educated women with a background in migration suffer from a lack of formal and informal local network. That deprives them of the necessary connections to understand and access the informal job market. But, on the other hand, the lack of a network also makes them less supported to participate in community life, which causes a little understanding of local habits.
Women with a background in migration also have or develop habits that make them less prone to enter the labour market successfully. First, due to previous bad experiences, they lack confidence when applying for a job. Second, due to diverse background, they miss an understanding of application procedures. An example of the latter is the testing, which is often designed for local candidates but creates unjustifiable mismatches for candidates with a different background. These mismatches are unjustifiable because they are there due to testing, not the lack of needed skills.
Employers suffer from a lack of network to reach out to candidates with diverse background. However, more employers get convinced of the need to diversify their workforce. That is for three reasons; they want their workforce to represent society and their customer base. Second, they become convinced that a diversified workforce will support them in better understanding needs and develop more appropriate solutions or products. Third, they consider it as nothing more but fair to create equal chances for everyone.
Besides an insufficient network, also employers suffer from bad habits. For example, they also might feel discomfort due to previous experiences with onboarding candidates with a migration background (bad experiences that can result from insufficient understanding of the language, culture, …). And of course, as mentioned, they make use of application procedures and language they design for local hires. The latter is a problem that occurs with ethnic diversity and gender diversity, when application procedures and language target only male candidates.
Based on our findings, we started designing solutions. They mainly exist of enabling stakeholders to enlarge and diversify their network and change their habits through a better mutual understanding. As human interaction is, in this case, the key to a better mutual understanding and enlarging networks, we decided to focus on these human interactions. With walks, talks and labs, we want to bring higher educated women with a background in migration together with employers in a setting that emphasizes equality and not a formal and artificial setting of an application procedure.
During a proof of concept, we focus on the impact we want to make and the extent to which we do make that impact. For that matter, we make use of an impact evaluation technique that is called ‘process-tracing. With that impact evaluation technique, we research how our processes contribute to enlarging networks and changing habits.
In this whole process WAAI takes up responsibilities in the use of design-research techniques, the design of communication (e.g. the branding and website) and the impact evaluation.