Inclusive Promotion in Practice

Inclusive Promotion in Practice – 3 Case Examples

By Inge Woudstra

What does inclusive promotion in practice look like? I’d like to show you how three organisations are implementing inclusive promotion in practice. With these 3 case examples you will see how male allies made a real difference. You will also see how that doesn’t just benefit women, but other groups too.

 1. Inclusive Promotion in Practice – Clear Career Pathways in an Insurance Company’s Tech Department

The Director of  a tech department was keen to ensure that all talent had equal opportunities and implement inclusive promotion in practice. He learned about research findings showing that women tend to be more risk averse about their career choices than men. So, they are less likely to put themselves forward for a new opportunity or stretch role.

Instead of trying to change women’s attitudes towards risk, the Director decided to do something different.

Here’s what he did:

  • Created opportunities for staff to shadow more senior colleagues.
  • Designed a way in which people could try out new roles for 3-6 months, without losing their old ones.
  • Made a wider range of role models visible to staff
  • Created a framework showing a range of career pathways through his department. That way people could see what specific skills and experience they needed to progress.

As a result of his insight and efforts, his department became the most gender- balanced department in the insurance firm. Staff engagement increased across the department.

2. Inclusive Promotion in Practice – Empathy and Listening at an Insurance Firm

The CEO of a large international insurance firm knew from personal experience that a diverse team leads to greater innovation and better staff engagement. He was keen to add more diversity to his Executive Team, which was mainly male. So, whenever a senior vacancy arose, he called  female colleagues whom he considered to be suitable for the role. In the call he asked them why they had not applied for the position.

The CEO carefully listened to the replies and took the feedback into account. For instance he changed the way that roles were described and changed timings and duration of meetings. He then worked hard to persuade them to apply, on the basis that the team required not just their expertise but also their gender lens.

His leadership team is now balanced between men and women. This balance has also had positive ripple effects on staff, as they have noticed different types of role models and valued hearing from leaders with different styles of leadership.

3. Inclusive Promotion in Practice – Clarifying Competencies in an Engineering Consultancy

A consultancy’s management team was keen to develop a more inclusive culture. In working with them to review their way of working, we looked at the way they promoted people. To their surprise, we found that the defined competencies for leadership roles were all about technical and commercial skills. As a result the people skills necessary for the roles were not rated by the assessor. This underrated those who were excellent at building relationships, even though this was a vital skill for the role. Interestingly, this is often an area where women tend to score higher.

When the consultancy recognised that they were assuming people skills, rather than assessing them, they added the previously-assumed skills as additional criteria.

As a second measure, they appointed one of the directors to take responsibility for career development of staff. Previously, it was each person’s own responsibility to progress their own career.

With the benefit of full oversight of all promotions, this new, collective approach to promotion into leadership roles has proved beneficial to a wider variety of people and made the leadership of the organisation more diverse.


I hope these examples of inclusive promotion in practice will inspire more ideas to improve the promotion process.  I would also love to hear your experiences with inclusive promotion – any initiatives that worked or didn’t work, and why you think that was the case.  Do email me.