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International Women’s Day: Better and more routes on offer to career progression

As we approach #InternationalWomensDay, it is very clear from our research that Top Employers in the UK are taking the issue of gender diversity extremely seriously says Phil Sproston, UK Country Manager at the Top Employers Institute.

Research from Top Employers in the UK shows that nine in ten (90%) are already undertaking official programmes to ensure gender equality, the highest ranking among those diversity initiatives we surveyed. This is all about making the most of talent, rather than political correctness. Diversity is seen as a key business imperative by almost as many (89%). There is much good work going on, but also far more to do.

Early experiences, in particular, are crucial to the development of female careers, when they (as well as men) are significantly more likely to be receptive and agile to the opportunities that arise. Qualitative research consistently shows that being given an early taste of responsibility is a major accelerator of career development for women. They consistently describe the ability to maintain contact with former female managers, mentors and role models as another invaluable source of support.

Career development has now become an opportunity for the many, not the few, with the need to design career management paths for many different roles and levels appreciated and practised consistently by 86% of our Top Employers (up from 75% in 2015). At the same time, employers are becoming more receptive and agile in understanding and promoting a far wider variety of career route maps, to the benefit of men and women alike.

What else is clear is a trend towards a more broad-minded approach in terms of career paths - our research shows that the only way to further a career is NOT now necessarily to move UP the corporate ladder at all. Four in five (80%) are now far more flexible in offering horizontal career paths through learning new skills and competencies within a department. And two-thirds offer cross-functional movement between departments or other lateral ways forward (67%).

As we observe International Women’s Day this week, nobody underestimates the many challenges of tackling gender inequality. There are still many difficulties to overcome, but at least Top Employers are making really good progress in helping to redress the balance.