Focus on career progression

Career progression with flex has climbed the HR agenda in the last year as more and more organisations call for more effort to be put into making senior jobs open to flexible working from day one. This month, as FDM Group scooped both the Career Progression Award and the Overall Winner Award at its Top Employer Awards, is shining a light on the subject of career progression.

Image representing career progression for women’s annual survey of over 2,400 mums shows many women are being held back by the lack of flexible senior jobs and by a lack of development for those who work less than traditional full-time hours.

In fact, the figures this year are worse than the year before. Some 49% say flexible working has held them back in their career [up from 47% last year]. Moreover, 54% of part timers say they miss out on career progression opportunities [up from 52% last year] and 42% feel that their flexible working is not perceived positively by their colleagues [compared to 41% in 2017].

Despite this, there is a big demand for greater flexibility, particularly flexible hours and 56% worry their flexible working will be taken away [as against 51% in 2017].

Career held back

One woman who feels she has been held back is Christine. She changed from Portfolio Analyst to Project Management Office Analyst in order to work part time, earning £10k less pro rata. She says now she is part time she is given unimportant tasks. She says:

We have made progress in terms of giving the working hours to working mums (even though they still feel guilty). However, more work has to be done to ensure women are getting on the job development. This can be done through mentoring and secondment. Currently, I feel I have been put in a box in my current role and am a little stuck due to my needs to pick up kids etc.

Employers who are addressing this issue are doing exactly this – providing leadership training, mentoring, sponsorship and secondments to women and looking at senior job shares. They are also unpicking the career path upwards, for instance, in law looking at what it takes to make it to partner level and thinking differently about career paths.

Women in leadership

One such employer is Sky which won the’s Career Progression Award and Overall Top Employer Award in 2016. It has a Women in Leadership initiative [WIL] which has set a 50% target for females in senior management positions.

The initiative, which includes 50/50 male/female shortlists, a sponsorship scheme and networking events, has already made strong progress with the number of female senior managers rising from 31% to 38% in the first 20 months after it was brought in. Sky has worked hard to artificially build sponsors for women in recognition that women tend to be overmentored and undersponsored.

They got each executive area to nominate a high potential woman, got to know the woman and her career aspirations and matched them with a sponsor. The programme was mandatory for the executives who acted as sponsors, but they could opt out if they wanted to.

For more details of best practice in career progression, talent attraction and recruitment and flexible working, read our Best Practice Reports and white papers.

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