HR Policy: How to Promote Gender Diversity to Top Management

During the 15months since the Lord Davies Report in 2011 the percentage of female non-executives on FTSE 100 boards increased from 15.6% to 22.4% while the percentage of female executives is still abysmal at 6.6%! While it appears that companies are finding it relatively easy to outsource to bridge the female gap in non-executive board positions, the ability to find and nurture female talent up through top management to executive positions appears to be lacking.

Not certain why gender diversity in top management is important? Check out our other factsheet HR Policy: Why is Gender Diversity Important in Top Management? Continue reading for how HR Policies can help to improve your company at promoting gender diversity up to top management.

Create an effective HR Policy Plan:

To be effective at promoting gender diversity the HR Policy Plan needs to work from three directions:

  • Monitoring and periodic evaluation of the gender equality and diversity in the company from entry level to on the board; identifying where gender diversity is going awry and the causal inequality barriers, measuring the effect of current and any additional HR policies employed and ensuring that good HR policy is kept and ineffective HR policy is improved.
  • Building and delivering the case for gender diversity to ensure that adjusting the gender balance is not approached as a numbers game of filling quotas but as an opportunity and requirement to diversify the abilities of the top management team.
  • Take action and make policies that break and overcome the inequality barriers causing the gender in-balance starting at the most damaging barriers within your company indicated by the monitoring and evaluations.

Monitor & Evaluate the Effects of current and additional HR Policy on Gender Equality & Diversity:

The only way to understand when, where and what the most damaging barriers are against gender diversity in your company is to monitor the progress of gender diversity and equality within your own business. Following this, as HR Policy is put in place or changed to improve the situation, monitoring needs to continue so that the ‘improvements’ can be evaluated to ensure they are doing their job or if further tweaking is required. Although not an exhaustive list, a few suggestions for factors to consider for monitoring (and why) follow.

  • The ratio of males/females at each level of progression through the company structure from entry level to senior management – This can help to identify where gender diversity is dropping in your company and so where the most damaging barriers to success are acting.
  • The gap (if there is any) between male and female approximate pay/hour for similar levels of job responsibilities (disregarding the amount of hours per week total worked as this has no leverage on the value of the work done per hour) – This can help to identify where/if the company pay scheme may be unfair and a possible cause of the loss of gender diversity.
  • The ratio of male to female applicants for new positions – This can help to identify if jobs are appearing more attractive to one gender than another.
  • Gauge existing opinions towards gender roles and abilities in management and/or barriers to gender diversity in top management (maybe through anonymous questionnaires) – Although the opportunity to do this well would be reliant on company size, this can help to identify any existing bias that the case for gender diversity needs to address and may also shine light on specific barriers that are the most felt in your company against gender diversity.

Build & Deliver the Case for Gender Diversity in Top Management:

Magical Quotas:Before putting in place magical quotas to aim for gender equality in top management it is extremely important that these quotas are not seen as free ride tickets for females to the top, or as a requirement for filler positions for conformance with equality laws. In either of these cases the females that do make the cut to management may be undervalued by their peers and subordinates losing the positive effect being aimed for and ensuring that the business is not improved by the efforts made to diversify. Another three fold division of labour is needed here as employees, managers and share holders all need to be convinced that the changes are for business improvement and not for token equality measures to ensure that the change is most effective.

Share Holders: Obviously if you want to fix this age old problem successfully it is going to take resources, and your share holders are going to want to know that these resources are being used for a reason they like. The bottom line (in our ‘why’ promote diversity factsheet) may well be the fastest and most effective reason to convince this group that the resources are most certainly worthwhile.

Managers: Your managers are your eyes and ears for searching for new talent to come up through the ranks. As such you need to ensure that they are on board with your plan of change and improvement for the future. As discussed in our why promote diversity (complementary gender skills), male dominant abilities tend to give them an advantage for being noticed in the company as achievers whereas more female dominant abilities (that are also important for management) can be easily overlooked. Based on this it is important that your managers understand all the skills and abilities that they need to be looking for in candidates to help to make sure that they are not overlooked so easily.

Employees: The questionnaires may help to bring to light some of the bias present in your employees towards gender diversity in management that may need to be combated subtly to ensure that male and female management figures are taken seriously with equal importance. It is also important to educate all employees of all the skills wanted from candidates for management as many females in your employment may be management material but don’t know it and so won’t apply for the positions. With very few role models about to show the more dominantly female management skills in action it would be easy for a female to feel that she is not up to the task of applying for management as they do not have the skills seen in the current male dominated management.

Take Action and Create HR Policy to Break and Overcome Gender Diversity Barriers

Now you have everyone reading from the same page it may be useful to set your company a target to meet for improving the male to female ratio in your top management so that you have something to work towards. More importantly though is to look to barriers beyond existing bias among your company members, barriers in place by your own HR Policy. The questionnaire may bring to light some barriers that are of poignancy in your own company but even without a questionnaire some things that come up regularly in the papers and gender equality blogs may be things to look at within your company. The following list, again not exhaustive, contains some of the areas in which you may be able to help even the playing field between males and females to help promote gender diversity through to top management:

  • Equality of pay/hour for similar work responsibilities (regardless of hours per week worked) – as females regularly have to take part-time work to be able to work around child responsibilities that aren’t expected of males. Being paid less for the same work means you are more likely to change jobs until finding a company that shows your skills are valued rather than the time per week you can give.
  • Availability of flexible work hours or work from home where possible – again this would help for females where certain shifts are impossible around child responsibilities leaving females no choice other than to move job. It has also been shown in polls and studies that employees would be happier and more productive with flexibility in shift hours and/or the possibility of some work from home so this arrangement could be a double edged winner!
  • Improve handling of maternity leave, for example treating it more like a sabbatical or long term sickness rather than a ‘lack of commitment’ to the workplace – maternity leave is said to have two effects: Firstly, females coming back from maternity leave are can be either not ready to jump in at full speed at first and may crumble if put under too much work pressure or on the flip side may feel undervalued for their capabilities if they are left out of the loop with activities as employees have adapted to not using them as a ‘go to’ while they were absent. In both these cases sufficient support is needed to ensure that on returning the employees re-integrate comfortably with the company (so they do not feel the need to leave) and continue their progress as high as they can get in the company (especially as working mums are likely to be improving their management skills in their free time almost constantly with children and a household to look after).
  • Use your advertising for top management to create attainable role models for female management traits. Maybe even set up a campaign within your company to find candidates and train them for fast track to the management positions they should already have made it to if the company had fixed the issues sooner! – You may not be able to provide female-dominant-trait role models right away for females to aspire to and recognise their leadership qualities through, but by being a bit clever when you advertise your top management positions you can create a visible attainable role model in theory at least, and with a bit of fast track training for top candidates you may even get the ball rolling a little faster with real role models.

Be Proud!

As a very final point, I feel it’s important to mention that (although in the UK we are still way behind many countries in our gender diversity in top management) taking on this age old issue is something to be proud of: It not only improves your company but helps to increase equality in society and that is something worth shouting about! So it makes perfect sense to make sure that you are open about your efforts to improve your company’s gender diversity in top management and to release your successes in the matter and make sure everyone knows that you are getting ahead of the game!

Factsheet: HR Policy: How to Promote Gender Diversity to Top Management
This information is provided for reference only – no liability accepted. All registered trademarks recognised. E&OE.

HR Policy: Change Management Check List

change management spider: data, plan, team, engage, execute, measure success and improve

The following information can be used as a checklist to help ensure your policies and procedures for change management makes the most out of the changes you implement for your company, and overcomes the negative emotional hurdles on the way to success.


Before beginning a change to the company, whatever it is, small or large, it is important to work out the Who, When, Where, How, Why and What about it. The plan doesn’t have to be concrete, it is much better to have a plan that needs reviewing then to have no plan to refer back to.  Your Human Resources Policy should stipulate that a plan is needed for all changes that are to be implemented.

Know the Laws: Some laws need to be taken into account when planning for company change. A couple of examples are ICE and TUPE regulations. ICE, Information and Consultation of Employees regulations, states that employees can request that arrangements are set up to inform and consult with them about issues with the organisation. Although these regulations only apply to businesses of 50 or more employees the guidelines set out in these regulations can be useful to aid transition for any business.

Resources: Without the right resources available at the right time a change can become a disaster field. Plan what resources are needed and when, and what extra resources may be needed to ensure any negative impacts during the transition are reduced:

People: Who is required to make the change run smoothly, do you need to bring in someone to oversee the changes (or maybe someone for health and safety or HR consulting etc.) or is there someone who can fill these caveats already in your company? Which employees will be required, and when, to receive information/training about the changes? Who needs to be involved with the planning/consultation phase of the changes?

Company ‘systems’: Which systems, and how will they be involved with the change and when? Does the change have knock effects to other systems that are not directly being changed?

Communication services: How will the change information be given to employees, customers and suppliers? What communication services will be needed to perform the task?

Time/timing: How much time is required for the change to take place? Will extra man hours be required to reduce the impact of employees learning new processes and knowledge? When would be the best time to make the change to avoid ‘busy trading periods’ to reduce negative impacts or to have the improvement in place in time for an event for better publicity?

Training/Education: What extra training and education will be required, for who and when, to ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them during the change. How will the training/education be supplied?

Change monitoring systems: How will you know if the changes are effective, what data needs to be collected before during and after the change?

Building a Vision/Value for the change: To be able to sell the change to your employees and customers as a move towards a better company, service or product a case for the changes needs to be built, a vision of the change value. Why is the change needed and how does the improvement outweigh the resources and possible negative impacts endured on the way? If a strong case cannot be made for the change in light of the resources required then the change should be reconsidered before continuing!

‘Communication/Training – Action – Auditing’ Circle

Once the planning is as far as it can go without action and you’ve decided the change is definitely to go ahead, it is easy to forget that the change management is not finished at just writing the policy and processes. The policies and processes cannot just sit hidden in a book on a shelf; the circle of effective ‘communication/training, action and auditing’ needs to be implemented. It may be pertinent to address in your policies and procedures not only that the circle of ‘communication/training – action – auditing’ is required, but what best practice should be used at each stage for the company to gain the most from each change.


Effective communication is required both internally for employees and externally to suppliers and customers to ensure negative effects can be minimised or planned around and that the positive effects can be accentuated as a selling point for the company.

Instruction/Training: For employees to effectively action the change they need to be aware of the change and have the knowledge of how and when they are involved. Provision of appropriate communication of the instructions or training is required as well as enough time to take on board the knowledge ready for use.

Leadership/Team Motivation: How willing an employee is to put in the extra effort involved in dealing with change is greatly affected by the perceived value of the effort. Sharing the aim/vision that the change is working towards and the value of the change with the employees can help to motivate them. How and who you choose to deliver the information and lead the change is important to ensure that the messages keep the employees both positive and engaged with the change. Any form of change can lead to disruption, concern and take people out of their usual ‘comfort zone’. It is too easy for change to be seen only as something negative, resulting in loss of morale and productivity. Be aware of supporting employees with the extra resources they need to achieve the change you want to see; to listen to concerns and suggestions for improvement; and to promote the positives to them, not just the company. How you manage the change with your employees will be the difference between a positive improvement that is achieved efficiently and with good results, or a slog to try to reach whilst battling the negativity of the people involved.

External Change Promotion: Allowing suppliers and customers to find out about the changes through firsthand experience, and allowing them to guess the reason for delays or changes in expectations from the company can lead to the wrong message being sent out of incompetence and poor management. Instead anyone who could be affected by the change during the transition period should receive timely notification of the possible negative effects to allow them to minimise the effect it has on them. The same communication can be used to promote the efforts being made by the company and how it aims to improve products or service to replace the negative feelings towards the effects with positive feelings towards the effort for a better product or service in the future.

Problem Solving: Open communication lines both externally and internally should be maintained to ensure that any problems that may occur can be caught as early as possible and dealt with. Ask your employees what they think of the change, and really listen. Employees are a great source of ideas for processes that they deal with every day so they may catch something you missed before it becomes an issue! Getting your employees involved with the evolution of your company not only ensures that you make the best choices but gives your employees a greater feeling that their knowledge and skills are valued.


Keeping on Track: Monitoring the progress of the change is important to ensure that the transitional phase is as quick and painless as possible. Any barriers impeding the change should be identified and eliminated as soon as possible. Appropriate levels of priority need to be given to the change or it will fall to the way side in favour of ‘business as usual’; if sufficient priority is not being given because productivity level cannot be held satisfactorily at the same time it may be necessary to rethink the plan to involve more man hours or to implement a work around to get the change fitted in.

Evolving the Plan: As stated near the beginning, the plan does not have to be concrete, in fact it is actually helpful if it is not set in stone. Refinement of the plan should be possible at any time to put into play any ideas that can improve the smooth transition or indeed the end point of the change. Also, amendments may need to be added to avoid, or minimise any problems that are only found during the implementation stage of the change. And of course, for all additions to the plan all necessary personnel need to be informed of the changes, the where, when and why so that everyone is working from the same script and can act accordingly on it.

Continued Motivation and Leadership: Communicating the successes of the change and acknowledging the individuals involved with the success can keep the positive vibe about the change pumping and keep employees motivated to push through to get the change in place where they may be currently sliding back. Getting top management involved with the acknowledgements even if just in name can also have a real impact on adding value to the change and improving employee motivation. Having management available on the ‘shop floor’ to help, not only identify change barriers, but to aid productivity during the transition where employees are struggling can show a greater understanding of the effort involved physically and mentally during a change creating a stronger bond between staff and company leadership also improving employee motivation.

Auditing and Continuation of the Circle for Change Management

Auditing is essentially monitoring the success of the changes so that planning for future improvement and communicating of the progress to the company vision can continue. Policy and processes should be audited regularly: Are the policies being followed? Are changes working to improve the company? Can the policies be improved? Audits may lead to policy/process improvement or retraining of specific staff, or may prove that the set up is currently working. Appropriate actions indicated by the audit should be made and the chain starts again with communication/training of necessary staff about any amendments and communication of results achieved by the company. It is good practice to audit all policies and procedures including the auditing procedures themselves regularly, it may be useful to include a time table for auditing in your Human Resource Policy to ensure nothing gets overlooked.

Building for Future Change

Managing change well not only improves the company due to the change itself but also improves the company image subsequently helping to increase the company’s market base. Also, following a well managed change employee pride in their work is higher leading to higher levels of motivation and employees are likely to be more open to future change given success in previous change.

For more information on HR policies and procedures for change management see ACAS.

Factsheet: HR Policy: Change Management Check List
This information is provided for reference only – no liability accepted. All registered trademarks recognised. E&OE.

Human Resources: Getting Employee Morale Right!

Spider diagram for employee morale: People: Empower, Train, Reward

Low employee morale leads to less productivity. As discussed in our blog (Improving Employee Morale: Do your employees know you value them?) quick fixes like budget staff parties and paper plate awards can provide only temporary morale boosts for some employees and may even cause more problems than they solve with others. Employee morale measures need to be part of the everyday running of your business to ensure your employees feel valued and stay positive and productive.

It may be a thankful surprise that the list below of most popular steps taken for making employees motivated in their work can be even cheaper than the quick fixes!

Make your workplace positive:

We’ve all heard the expression at some time ‘you couldn’t pay me enough to work there!’, if the work atmosphere isn’t pleasant employees expect extra value back just for ‘enduring the day’. Making your workplace positive puts you back on a level playing field for what is expected in return for their work.

  • Laugh at the small things, not everything at work needs to be serious and a laugh can really lift spirits
  • Don’t dwell on mistakes, fix them and move on, focus on achievements, celebrate them as a team and build on them to keep moving forward
  • Encourage regular breaks for all, not just smokers, a stroll away lets them relieve any building stress making the day less of a slog and breaking work into smaller chunks is also known to improve productivity levels
  • Don’t forget to smile… a smile is infectious!

Give your employees job satisfaction:

If your company earns awards, helps the community or simply satisfies a client enough for them to send thanks, share this with your employees and celebrate it with them. Similarly, if there is a press release about a reward, include the employees that helped to achieve it. Even sharing news about breaking small targets can improve job satisfaction and help encourage employees to keep up the good work. Essentially sharing the pride of the company with the individual employees outsources the job of making employees feel valued!

Show your employees ‘real’ appreciation:

Rewarding hard work goes a long way to encouraging it to continue as it shows you value the work. However for the reward to work its magic it has to be something of value to the person receiving it. Make rewards personable rather than assuming one size fits all. A bouquet of flowers may make one employee feel special while another employee may not appreciate it at all and feel the act was more a cheap PR trick than a reward. Find out what drives your employees as individuals and reward them for exemplary work with something of value to them to ensure your efforts show real appreciation for their work!

Empower your employees:

An employee that feels their ideas are listened to and acted on feels empowered by their position and so valued by their company for their skills/knowledge. Ask your employees what they think of their jobs and what they think can be done to improve things, and really listen. Employees are a great source of ideas on how to improve processes that they deal with every day so it is win win! Get your employees involved with the evolution of your company to ensure you make the best choices and that your employees feel their knowledge and skills are valued. After all, you hired them for their skills and experience or paid for their training in the position so it makes sense to use that skill and experience.

Help your employees reach their full potential:

Providing training lets an employee know their development is valued. A lot of employees don’t just look at their salary for what they get back from their company. Many employees look for skill development to help them reach their full potential. Training doesn’t have to cost the earth, it can be as simple as opportunities for newer employees to pair up with veterans or to be part of problem solving groups to improve on existing skills and knowledge or you can help to broaden their skills and knowledge by allowing them time to work in other departments.

All these steps work together to ensure your company treats your employees as the valuable assets they are and makes them more motivated in their jobs – higher employee morale = more productivity! (and a much nicer atmosphere for everyone to work in).


Factsheet: HR – Getting Employee Morale Measures Right?
This information is provided for reference only – no liability accepted. All registered trademarks recognised. E&OE.

Right to Work Checks – Avoiding Employment of Illegal Workers

The law requires employers to make checks and keep records of rights to work for all persons employed from January 1997 onwards. This factsheet gives an overview as to the why, how, when, and what to check, as an employer, to gain a statutory excuse to avoid prosecution and or fines if an illegal worker is found working for you.

Why? The Law: Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006:

You are breaking the law if you employ a person who does not have the right to work in the UK.

Under Section 15: An employer not completing the necessary checks can be charged a civil penalty of up to £10,000 for each illegal worker they have hired.
Under Section 21: employer knowingly employing an illegal worker can face criminal prosecution leading to the possibility of up to 2 years imprisonment and, or an unlimited fine!

Duties from the 2006 Act apply to anyone who starts working for you on or after 29 February 2008. However, the previous 1996 Act means that you should have already acquired appropriate Right to Work documents for all employees that started working for you between 27 January 1997 and 28 February 2008.
NB: Right to work documentation only needs to be kept until 2 years after a person stops working for you.

How? Check and record right to work documents to provide a statutory excuse:

With a statutory excuse, if an employee is subsequently found to be an illegal worker, the employer may avoid charges and, or prosecution. The following checks and records are required for your statutory excuse for all existing employees who started work with you since February 2008 and every person you look to employ:

  • Request and be given original documents fulfilling one of a-g from list A/B in the documents table(bottom)
  • Check each document is genuine, belongs to the person you are checking, and shows that they are allowed to do the type of work you are offering. If any of these checks prove to be false then the person\’s right to work is not proven and you are not entitled to hire them.
    • Any photographs and, or date of birth listed should be consistent with the person\’s appearance
    • Any date of birth listed should be consistent across documents
    • Any shown limited leave to enter or remain in the UK expiry dates should not have passed
    • Any shown UK government endorsements (Biometric Residence Permits, stamps, stickers, visas) should show that the person is allowed to do the type, and or amount of hours work being offered
    • The name should be consistent across documents, or if it is not, a further explanatory document should also be used (eg. marriage certificate, divorce decree absolute, deed poll, or statutory declaration)
  • Copy, and store securely, the relevant pages of the documents in a format which cannot later be altered (eg. photocopy or scan)- it is suggested that you write on the copy the date it is made:
    • For a passport/travel document – copy the front cover and all pages containing either the holder\’s personal details or UK government endorsements showing their permission to be in the UK and to carry out the work you are offering.
    • For all other documents – copy them in full (including both sides of a Biometric Residence Permit)
  • Keep a record of every document you have copied.

When are the checks done?

You must check every person you plan to employ before employing them. Ensure this is done for all employees to avoid discrimination. If the documentation provided satisfies one of a-g from list A in the documents table (bottom), then this is the only check that is required as the statutory excuse will last as long as their employment with you.

If the documentation provided satisfies one of a-e from list B in the documents table (bottom), then their right to work checks must be repeated at least every 12 months, or sooner, if a person\’s limited right to work is due to expire before the 12 months deadline.

What documentation is needed?

The table on page 3 summarises the documents that can be checked and recorded to provide your statutory excuse. You need to have checked correctly either a singular document or combination of documents that satisfies one of a-g list A or a-e list B that clearly indicates about the person one of the options shown adjacent to the document in the right column (overlapping rows from the left to right column show where more than one option is available for a given document).

Also important to note, the following list of documents (1-9), taken straight from the April 2012 Summary Guide For Employers On Preventing Illegal Working In The UK, are NOT acceptable as right to work documentation for your statutory excuse:

  • 1. A Home Office Standard Acknowledgement Letter or Immigration Service Letter (IS96W) which states that an asylum seeker can work in the UK. If you are presented with these documents then you should advise the applicant to call us on 0151 237 6375 for information about how they can apply for an Application Registration Card;
  • 2. A National Insurance number on its own in any format;
  • 3. A driving licence issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency;
  • 4. A bill issued by a financial institution or a utility company;
  • 5. A passport describing the holder as a British Dependent Territories Citizen which states that the holder has a connection with Gibraltar;
  • 6. A birth certificate which does not have details of at least one of the holder\’s parents
  • 7. A licence provided by the Security Industry Authority;
  • 8. A document check by the Criminal Records Bureau;
  • 9. A card or certificate issued by the Inland Revenue under the Construction Industry Scheme.

Right to work documents table

For the full UK Borders Agency summary guide for employers on preventing illegal working in the UK, and write to work checklist: summary-guidence.pdf

Factsheet: HR – Right to Work Checks – Avoiding Employment of Illegal Workers
This information is provided for reference only – no liability accepted. All registered trademarks recognised. E&OE.