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Diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

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4 Career progression

So far this week, you’ve focused on the beginning of someone’s career within your organisation, but career progression also plays an important part in maintaining their commitment and focus.

In this short film, Asif Sadiq explains the role of equity throughout the recruitment process and beyond – creating a level playing field for people from all backgrounds to succeed.

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Video 7: Equity
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Ensuring that all opportunities for progression and development are made transparent and inclusive, is another important step.

Transparent career paths

Coffman et al (2021) describe three steps an organisation can take to establish a culture of transparency in this context:

  • create strong career paths, determining the required skills and competencies to reach various roles or career stages
  • identify available training and professional development resources for employees to gain those skills
  • clearly and consistently communicate that information to employees so they can make informed decisions and pursue growth opportunities at the company.

Once everyone knows, or can easily find out, what their options are, careful monitoring of the diversity characteristics of those who apply for and obtain the various opportunities should be undertaken.

If the results of that monitoring demonstrate an issue with inclusion, there are a number of initiatives an employer might consider.

Career mentoring and sponsorship

Mentoring is a more familiar concept for most of us, described by Omadeke (2021) as

‘a relationship between someone sharing knowledge and providing guidance (the mentor) and someone learning from that person’s experience and example (the mentee).’

Sponsorship can be thought of as a more active process, in which the sponsor advocates for the sponsee in situations where they are not in the room, e.g. with senior leaders or decision makers.

Watch this short video from Everywoman Ltd., explaining the importance of sponsorship to those who are under-represented.

Video 8: The importance of mentors and sponsors | Sarah Churchman
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If you’re interested in finding out more, Bain and Company have some advice about developing a sponsorship and mentoring programme:

Video 9: Developing a Sponsorship and Mentoring Program
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Development programmes

In her article on diversity, equity and inclusion ‘game changers’, Corrales (2021) shares several examples of employer initiatives that are making opportunities more accessible for under-represented groups. These include programmes focusing on:

  • Women in leadership
  • Autism at work
  • Youth employment
  • Flexibility and work life balance
  • Targeted groups, e.g. migrants and refugees, or ex-military.

In several cases, an external organisation has been brought in to provide the structure for specialised training, coaching, networking etc.

The BBC, working with EW group (no date)

Under pressure over its lack of diverse ethnic representation at senior levels, the BBC worked with equality, diversity and inclusion consultancy, EW Group to develop training for a group of Black, Asian and minority ethnic mentees and their in-house, career development mentors.

After training, which included elements of skill development, knowledge sharing, profile raising and awareness building, all participants left with a practical toolkit to support them in being the best possible mentor or mentee.

After just three months, 38% of the first cohort had achieved recognised career development moves. The training is continuing with new mentors and mentees.