How workforce agility promotes gender equity

Our latest research with Boston Consulting Group sheds light on leveling the playing field


By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

July 29, 2022

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When it comes to achieving gender equity in the workplace, most businesses have a long way to go. For every 100 men that are promoted to managers, only 86 women are given the same opportunity. At the same time, women are more burnt out than their male colleagues, and the gap in workplace stress levels keeps widening.

Businesses can’t afford to let burnout build and settle for inequitable access to career development opportunities. Instead, leaders must turn their attention toward internal mobility programs to reimagine talent management tactics and break down barriers.

Innovative companies are already tapping in-house talent for promotions and evolving business priorities. Yet, the most impactful internal mobility programs will take it one step further by democratizing access to opportunity and helping employees chart their careers at a micro level—both of which are game-changers for promoting gender equity.

Promoting gender equity with internal mobility

Access and agency are at the heart of successful gender equity initiatives—and they’re also crucial concepts for internal mobility programs. Research shows that lateral opportunities are more than twice as effective as compensation in predicting employee retention, underscoring the high value that workers place on accessing these experiences.

Yet, many women aren’t receiving the same level of access to opportunities as their male counterparts. Studies found that women have fewer chances to participate in stretch assignments, which are particularly crucial for career advancement—even when they explicitly say they’re interested in working on more challenging projects.

This discrepancy indicates that most internal mobility initiatives are missing the mark when it comes to promoting gender equity. What sets the next generation of internal mobility programs apart is that they’re rooted in skills and designed to make the most of innovative HR technologies, like workforce agility platforms. As a result, these programs are better equipped to facilitate skills-led career mobility decisions, rather than letting biases and preconceived notions tip the scales.

4 ways to promote gender equity with a workforce agility platform

At Gloat, we’ve seen firsthand how workforce agility platforms enhance internal mobility and gender equity. Recently, we collaborated with Boston Consulting Group to explore how skills-based internal mobility programs can increase career development opportunities for women.

Here are their top findings, which directly align with our best practices when it comes to promoting gender equity with a workforce agility platform:

#1. Increase access to opportunities
Back in the day, opportunities were allocated on the basis of who you know, rather than what you know. In contrast, leading internal mobility programs post projects, gigs, and assignments publicly on a company’s talent marketplace, making these opportunities visible to a broader slate of candidates.

#2. Make skills the deciding factor for career progression
Increasing the visibility of opportunities is a step in the right direction. But to move the needle on gender equity, leaders must also ensure that career mobility decisions are based entirely on skills, which is where the talent marketplace comes into play.

The platforms suggest potential matches to both posting managers and employees on the basis of the employees’ profiles. By suggesting good-fit possibilities, a talent marketplace encourages women to apply for opportunities that they may have never otherwise considered and expands the pool of potential candidates for managers seeking recruits.

#3. Mitigate bias
Bias and preconceived notions have no place in career mobility decisions. Talent marketplaces can hide bias-forming parameters, like gender, in employee profiles. The platforms also track and report personal qualities, making it easier to intervene and mitigate bias in hiring decisions.

#4. Take fear out of the equation
To maximize participation in internal mobility programs, employees must be able to look for opportunities without initially alerting their manager. This is particularly important for women since a recent study of exiting workers found that women were less likely than men to ask about internal opportunities, perhaps because they feared repercussions. When companies configure their talent marketplaces to provide visibility into all opportunities, employees can browse open positions, stress-free.

Democratizing access to opportunities in action: How Seagate is cultivating a more equitable workplace

While skills-based internal mobility programs may be relatively new, there are a handful of trailblazing enterprises that are already harnessing these strategies to move the needle on gender equity—and Seagate is one such organization.

The leading data storage solutions provider launched a workforce agility platform to democratize access to career development opportunities and support a large-scale talent redeployment. Seagate’s talent marketplace suggests jobs to employees on the basis of their skills and aspirations. Characteristics such as age, gender, and geographic location aren’t factored into the platform’s suggestions, and it has mechanisms to mitigate the risk of bias in internal hiring.

Their talent marketplace has led to a 58% increase in the participation and assignment of women to open internal positions, not to mention a savings of $1.4 million within four months of launching their platform.

Now that companies are facing a moment of reckoning in the workplace, no business can afford to let inequitable career development practices continue. If you’re looking to drive lasting change, find out how you can harness a workforce agility platform to build an inclusive workforce.

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