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October 17, 2000
Transplacement Now Shifting to Men, Significant Others

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Indicative of the improved stature of women in the corporate world, transferred women are increasingly leading their husbands to a new city. For decades it was almost always the other way around.

Today a growing number of men are receiving a special type of job search assistance known as transplacement as they follow a transferred spouse.

In an effort to retain valued employees, more and more companies are offering transplacement to the working spouse or significant other of a transferee. The purpose is to help the trailing, employed spouse relocate to a similar position in the new city.

In the past, women were almost exclusively the recipients of transplacement help. Men were almost always the primary wage earners being relocated and women left their jobs to follow.

Census shows more women moving

Evidence of the shift can be seen in the latest data from the Census Bureau, which show a greater percentage of women householders moving with a trailing spouse. The householder, according to the Census Bureau, refers to the head of the household or the person in whose name the housing unit is owned or rented. The person designated as the householder is the "reference person" to whom the relationship of all other household members, if any, is recorded.

While women represented a smaller percentage of householders, a larger percentage were movers. Of the 13.8 million female householders with a spouse, 14 percent or 1.9 million moved between March, 1998, and March, 1999. Among the 41 million male householders with a spouse, 10.5 percent moved.

"As more women move up the corporate ladder, they are increasingly viewed as the best person for the job and are more likely to be transferred as they advance their careers," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Women getting more degrees, including MBA's.

Helping enhance women's stature in the workplace and fueling the rise in transfers is the fact that they are outpacing men in earning college degrees. In the 1999-2000 graduating class, women with bachelor's degrees outnumbered their male counterparts by 27 percent (637,000 vs. 500,000). By the class of 2006-07, the gap will expand to 38 percent.

The number of women earning MBAs jumped from only 609 in 1968 to 38,008 in 1997, according to the Department of Education. In the 1990s alone, the number of women earning these advanced degrees climbed 46 percent. By comparison, men earning MBAs during the same period grew just 18 percent.

"As more women take positions of leadership within companies, they are more likely to be targeted for transfers. Companies transfer people they value, placing them where their talents will do the most good and trusting in their abilities." "Increasingly, companies are choosing women over men for these career-building moves. That points to a future with upward movement in both women's salaries and the level of job positions they hold," noted Challenger.

Significant others getting coverage too

In addition, transplacement today is no longer limited only to spouses. With companies fighting to retain top people, they can also use transplacement counseling as an incentive for significant others.

The trend of offering transplacement to significant others represents another dramatic workplace shift. When transplacement was first implemented four decades ago, the concept was framed by the traditional husband-wife relationship. Rarely were unmarried or gay and lesbian partners of transferred employees considered eligible for the employer-paid benefit.

"Denying transplacement to significant others is not in the best interest of companies today." "In an intensely competitive atmosphere, companies work to retain their best people, no matter what their lifestyles. Talented employees are a very precious commodity," said Challenger.

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