WISE says that transparency around career progression is vital to create a virtuous circle of growth for employers looking to build greater gender balance in their STEM roles.  Women represent just under 25% of the core STEM workforce, and only 17% in tech, a figure that has been almost static for a decade. 

Kay Hussain, Chief Executive Officer of WISE, the campaign for greater gender balance in STEM, explains: “I am encouraged to see many employers today actively focusing on attracting more women into STEM roles. However, it is not enough to simply recruit women, an inclusive environment is essential to help retain them, and enable them to progress to the most senior levels.

“In a WISE survey* conducted earlier this year, 90% of respondents said that transparency of progression was important to them. Women are more likely to want to work for an organisation when they can see other women in senior roles, and where opportunities for progression are justly visible and accessible.”

Based on its industry led Ten Steps framework, WISE is advising employers to consider the following best practice to improve the recruitment, retention, and progression of women:

  • Be transparent when advertising career progression opportunities.
  • Ensure all roles are advertised internally across the organisation and apply external recruitment standards to internal recruitment and promotion.
  • Create robust recruitment and progression policies for all hiring managers to follow. This provides consistent recruitment practices across the organisation.
  • Recognise employees’ transferable skills. Give individuals the opportunity to work in different departments, use their transferable skills and develop new skills.
  • Include career progression discussions as part of an employee’s annual review to identify goals and the creation of a career development plan, including how employees can gain the skills needed to progress.
  • Provide opportunity for potential applicants to talk directly to the hiring manager. This can be particularly helpful in supporting cross-departmental applicants, allowing for discussions around transferable skills and retraining opportunities.
  • Introduce a career development programme or network to provide opportunities for women to find mentors, boost confidence, learn new skills and plan their progression.

Kay concludes: “Adopting a transparent approach to progression demonstrates fairness and equity for all, which ultimately lets your employees know they are all equally valued, and the organisation is committed to supporting everyone to fulfil their potential.”