Five steps to building a more inclusive talent pipeline

Five steps to building a more inclusive talent pipeline

The compelling business case for gender equality has been well promoted. Diversity is widely understood to be fundamental to the sustained growth of any business. Yet research shows there is a common tendency for businesses to have a ‘50:30:10 leaking pipeline’ of women.

This leaking pipeline ratio refers to the fact that many businesses have a 50% representation of women at entry level, 30% in middle management and only 10% in senior management. So how can businesses of all shapes and sizes take steps to build a pipeline where more women choose to stay with the organisation and progress within it.

At Pure we run a Women’s Leadership Programme designed to help businesses create a balanced talent pipeline. Run in conjunction with People and Performance, it doesn’t just develop aspiring female leaders, is also equips women with the ability to go back out to their workplace and to work with their employers to remove any potential barriers or unconscious bias. Here’s some of the key topics of discussion covered by the programme.

  1. Be willing to dig out problems and find positive solutions

The companies which are most successful at building an inclusive talent pipeline are fully engaged with the idea of tackling any potential problems in the first place. If organisations don’t know why women fail to climb the ladder they can’t dig out any problems and find positive solutions.

  1. Investigate all stages of the talent pipeline

Start from the beginning when exploring the talent pipeline. Is there an equal balance of men and women joining the organisation in junior roles in the first place? At what point does the number of women start to decline? Positive solutions to stop the leakage can vary across organisations, from removing any unconscious gender bias in the promotion process through to ensuring flexible working practices are clear, transparent and available to both men and women; backed by a culture which is focussed on results and not the amount of time spent in the building.

  1. Don’t make assumptions

Take time to find out the reasons behind any trends discovered when investigating your talent pipeline, as they could be surprising. For example, a recent study by Ambition UK showed that while it was commonly assumed that women left the workplace due to family reasons, for most women (62%) a lack of perceived career progression opportunities was their main reason for leaving their current company.

  1. Encourage and support female talent

We encourage organisations to focus on supporting a diverse range of high calibre employees to progress their career. Actively look for opportunities to build diverse project teams and to create a culture where everyone’s contribution is recognised and celebrated. Even if a female member of staff doesn’t immediately have all the right skills, if you spot the right potential, attitude and enthusiasm, then back them to do the job.

  1. Talk openly about career progression opportunities

Celebrate the success stories of both male and female rising stars and make them more visible within the organisation. This could be through the staff intranet, internal awards programmes or at company meetings. The Every Woman’s Advancing Women in Business report revealed that only 1 in 4 (25%) of female middle managers realistically expected to be in a more senior role in their current company within the next two years. If there are career progression opportunities available in your organisation, try to banish any misconceptions by shouting about them more.

More information about our Women’s Leadership Programme and how it can help businesses to develop a more balanced talent pipeline can be found here.


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Written by

Lynn Walters

Lynn is a founding Director of Pure and leads Pure Executive. She has over 25 years’ experience recruiting for executive appointments, and helps east of England-based businesses with senior management and board-level recruitment. Lynn also leads our Best Employers Eastern Region initiative and Women’s Leadership Programme, both of which help companies and people develop.

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