What are some of the barriers women face in getting to that next step, and how do you actively address these to ensure talent isn't overlooked ?

There is a huge amount of evidence to suggest that women are overlooked constantly. Whether that is because their achievements are not recognised, they ‘lack gravitas’, they have children, or perhaps just because they don’t look just like the rest of the (male) leaders in their organisation - what we call ‘social cloning’ in the WACL 50% Playbook. Bring in review systems which enable people to actively and measurable talk about their achievements and successes. Consider what ‘modern leadership’ looks and sounds like in 2024, not stuck in the past.

When there are fewer opportunities on the table, what can women do to highlight their potential and be considered for promotion alongside colleagues?

I would love to say here that the onus shouldn’t be on women to have to illustrate their own potential, but we know that is not the case. Within our WACL 50% playbook there are some really useful and practical pieces of advice on how to create a more equitable promotion system within organisations. So, first off, I would recommend that some or all are implemented, or at least flagged to SMTs. But if that’s not possible, logging your own achievements with clarity and sharing those back regularly with your line manager are useful steps to make sure your career pathway is prioritised. 

We all know that diversity of thought delivers the best and most interesting work, as well as workplace cultures. What’s the best advice to all hiring managers to mitigate unconscious bias ? 

Firstly, training! I would recommend all hiring managers to make sure they have gone through unconscious bias training, there are a lot of great providers for this. But in my opinion, it’s something that shouldn’t just be done once. Make unconscious bias a regular part of the conversation and HR strategies within your workplace. Don’t shy away from the conversation because it might feel uncomfortable. Work closely with your recruitment partners - both in house and external - to set your expectations around the diversity of candidates you want to see. And when you’re going through the selection process, make sure you are really challenging yourself to identify and address your own bias.

In cases where there is a lack of clarity as to the criteria for promotion, what do you suggest is the best strategy ?

I would always advise keeping as close an eye on the job spec for your next role, as the one for your current. Most organisations do at least have clear job specs so this is a useful way to be able to demonstrate you’re already doing some or all of the role that you want to be promoted into. It’s also important to be clear with your line manager on what you would like your progression to look like. Discuss time frames, ask for regular and honest feedback on your performance and seek out feedback from others around your organisation who may be influential on the decision. 

Getting your ‘foot in the door’ can feel challenging for members of marginalised communities. What advice do you have for securing that first opportunity ?

Finding ways to network with other people - not just when you’re looking for a new role can really help to open doors. Networks like Futures or Bloom are inclusive spaces and great for connecting to build your confidence or seek out opportunities that don’t rely on recruiters reaching out. There are also a plethora of awards programmes which give you great profile and also aid with connections. I Chair the WACL Talent Awards which is a bursary programme for next generation talent. It’s not only great recognition of your achievements but also a great connecting opportunity.

What advice do you have for recruiting managers seeking talent outside of their network ?

Don’t just go where you’ve gone before. As I’ve mentioned above, the same networks that are great for networking are also brilliant to recruit from, and often very cost effective. Spaces such as SocialFixt or The Other Box are just two who have very diverse and engaged communities. We also have a lot of success with our internal referral programme for live roles.