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Managing career development

According to research by Cranfield School of Management, of the FTSE 250 companies, over half did not have any women in their boardroom and only 5.5 per cent of executive directors of TFSE 100 companies were women.

The recent report on boardroom representation by Lord Davis of Abersoch should be seen as a call to action for UK business. The report recommends that companies double the number of women directors on their board by 2015. If this is not met UK business may be facing government imposed quotes.

Ways in which bias could be embedded within your organisation’s staff development policies and practices:

  1. Decision-making and the ‘informal filter’: Conversations about an employee’s development and promotion prospects often take place through off-line unrecorded conversations between senior managers.  
  2. Personal recommendations: Whilst on the surface a personal recommendation may seem like a sensible idea these are a way of narrowing the talent pool. This process supports the ‘mini-me’ trap. 
  3. Lack of workplace flexibility and cultural fit: Flexible working options are becoming part of the employer of choice menu. However, there is an expectation that those at the top of the organisational tree are almost exempt from these policies.  
  4. Stereotypes and categorisations: Whilst the glass ceiling is a well recorded phenomenon that impacts on women in particular, research tells us that exclusion from organisational development results from our multi-identities.  
  5. Sector based bias: Skills that are developed in one sector may be transferable to another business environment. However social stereotypes and work-based categorisation often prevent workers from progressing from one sector to another.

Managing the pipeline: 5 simple tips on managing inclusive career routes

  1. Scrutinise your traditional routes to promotion: To avoid bias towards groups who may have had to take a career break in the past ensure that all promotional opportunities are communicated to all employees. 
  2. Build in organisational support structures: Support initiatives such as coaching or mentoring programmes aimed at under-represented talent helps to send a clear message that you seek to develop your diverse talent pools.  
  3. Introduce competency based assessments: Using tools that are designed to assess a candidate’s skills and abilities is one way in which organisations can work towards eliminating bias from their existing processes.  
  4. Set diversity targets: Diversity targets help organisations to focus their activities. If we believe that diversity and inclusion management is not a ‘nice to have’, but a real strategic issue which improves business competitiveness, we should, as with other organisational activities set targets by which we can measure achievements.  
  5. Sponsor an employee: The use of coaching and mentoring to develop tomorrow’s talent are well established practices within modern organisations. And yet in spite of these and other practices there has been little change in the make-up of senior executive teams and UK board rooms. Some organisations are now adopting a sponsoring approach to talent development.  

Challenging the head hunters: a short scenario 

Sponsored by The Law Society.

This video was co-produced by Steps, world leaders in drama
based training.  For more information on their fantastic work around
diversity and inclusion: www.stepsdrama.com

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