From the experts leading the way in their organisations
When 30 senior change makers were asked by family-friendly benefits company, My Family Care, how best to support female career progression in the workplace, it was clear that making significant and substantial change still remains a challenge in many organisations across the UK. The fact is that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer, but small steps can achieve great feats, says Ben Black, director of My Family Care.
Here are 6 nuggets of advice from the people leading the way:
1) Bin the pre-conceptions
First up, “don’t assume that the reason women are not at the top of their organisation because of childcare responsibilities; some of them have opted out because they have eldercare responsibility, or both,” says Kate O’Louglin, director of talent at HomeServe Insurance. “The ‘sandwich generation’ is a fact and a hard place to be.”
2) Beef-up the sponsorship
“Introduce a sponsorship programme for women who show potential for leadership,” says Donna Halkyard, vice president of the City Women Network. “These provide women with great access to networks and opportunities, upping their visibility. Just as importantly, they work because they require organisations and those who are sponsors, who are predominantly men in senior positions, to proactively and visibly demonstrate their belief in, and support for more gender-balanced businesses.”
3) Be agile. Be flexible
For Julian Granville, chief executive of Boden Retail: “Flexibility is the key – it can be used as a competitive advantage in attracting highly skilled women to work for your business.” While Halkyard reminds businesses not to forget the part-timers and flexi-workers. “Adaptive businesses who flex their people processes to be inclusive of those who work flexibly and/or take leave from the business win out in the end. For example, organise for promotion panels to take place more than once a year,” she says.
4) Beware of branding
“Be careful with how you position ‘women’s networks’ – they’re all about the greater good, invite some men to join!” says Alison Hughes, group head of HR policy and diversity at Centric plc Energy.
5) Implement a career-planning programme
For Marina Jankovic, global diversity and inclusion manager at British American Tobacco FMCG, a bit of career development goes a long way: “Create a 6 month programme targeting female talent and actively involve participants’ line managers and sponsors,” she says. “This unlocks key strengths and skills that are critical for reaching seniors roles, but most importantly starts a meaningful conversation with managers about embedding broader life aspects into individual career plans.”
6) Set the example, lead the way
And remember: “Always get senior buy-in as without it, nothing will shift and change,” says Mary FitzPatrick, diversity leader at GE Capital Financial Services.