The Royal [not so] Mail

The Royal Mail won's Top Employer Award for Career Progression for its work on encouraging greater diversity at every level of the organisation.

The Royal Mail Group has the opposite problem from many top companies – it has more women percentage wise in senior positions within the organisation than on the frontline. This is in large part due to traditional stereotypes of who a postal worker might be and what the job involves.

Some 36% of the Royal Mail’s board are women, but women make up just 16% of staff.

To improve the gender balance across the company, Royal Mail has been looking at how it designs and advertises its job roles and the images and real life stories it uses in its publications and media.  It has also launched an outreach programme at colleges and careers fairs to attract a more diverse population into the company, emphasising how flexible the profession is.  This and its other work on women's career progression has just won it the Top Employer Award for Career Progression.

Leading from the top

Senior role models help to drive the diversity agenda, including Moya Greene, CEO of the Royal Mail and Sue Whalley, the chair of the Gender Diversity Steering Group. They, together with John Duncan, Group HR director, are mentors of women in the organisation. There are over 90 mentoring partnerships which have come about as a result of a scheme run in conjunction with Royal Mail’s women’s networks.

Greene is also one of many leading women who act as role models and speak at women’s network and career development events both within and outside of the organisation.

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The Royal Mail also works on career development for non-managers through its Springboard Development Programme. The aim is to imbue a sense of confidence, to widen women’s skills set, encourage them to take on additional responsibilities and think about their careers. To keep the momentum of the programme going there will be support with a development plan and the organisation is also trialling an Ambassadors Programme, led by senior managers, which aims to ensure all of the women have mentors and are linked into women’s networks in their area.

The Women’s Network has been holding national meetings twice a year since 2010 with local events also being held across the country.

Lying at the top of the career development initiatives is the Executive Leadership Programme launched in 2012. Initially the Programme, which is being run in conjunction with Oxford University's Said Business School, was for senior leaders, but it is now being developed and extended to more senior managers.

The organisation has an active women’s Outreach Programme to help attract a more diverse workforce and deal with misconceptions about the types of roles available in the organisation.It covers events such as careers fairs and graduate fairs and apprenticeships and was launched in September.

*A full report on Royal Mail’s work on career progression will be published in’ Best Practice Report which will be published in the Spring.

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