Best practices for diversity!

We have done the research and worked with companies and institutions. Please find an extract of the most common themes which we encounter below.

What are the fears you have to tackle when it comes to implementing diversity measures

  • Men fear to lose job opportunities as more women enter the workforce and want to advance which equals to more competition.

  • Concepts like job sharing and part time are still considered as ‘does not really work in our business’.

  • The concept of ‘You need to move firms to gain experience’ is important. Thus, as people move around anyways, little effort is made to retain talent and enhance corporate culture.

  • Sabbaticals are still seen as a reward for long and loyal service. Maternity Leave and Parental Leave disrupts this concept because this means that employees who do not “deserve” the sabbatical privilege, get access to it. Sabbaticals are not considered an asset or learning opportunity.

  • Men agree that taking care of children is hard and that they either do not want to do it or feel that women are genetically better equipped to do it. That is one of the reasons why men do not take their parental leave.

  • Furthermore, most men agree that taking parental leave has a negative repercussion on their career and salary progression.

  • Even if it is agreed that diversity is a good thing and can have significant positive results due to the benefits to decision making and creativity, it is still considered as difficult as ‘Initial integration is difficult’.

  • The belief that ‘Clients don’t want diversity, but they want continuity and stability’

  • Adapting and changing old habits has made some men reticent of change and inclusion as they liked the old ways.

  • Business management is challenging – as they have to ensure that part time workers and sabbaticals do not upset the continuity of the “business” e.g. don’t want gaps in work output – depending on the activity of the company

  • The “this will change on its own” argument - Generational change is still often seen as the answer to a lot of problems

  • Fear of harassment claims pushes some senior managers (men) to fear taking younger female colleagues for lunch which in turn causes a loss of networking opportunities and mentoring for younger women

  • Age limits for certain roles, f.ex. become partner by 40 or never

  • Assumptions made by managers on female employee’s attitudes, f. ex won’t want to travel

  • Interaction between management and staff such as a male boss chatting regularly tomteam members about football matches, and thus interacting more regularly at social level with male team members; thus, preferring or considering men more often for promotion.


What can be done on a Corporate level to take these fears head on and lobby for gender diversity?


Hiring Process and Advertisement:

  • Anonymize information from CVs for example name

  • Clearly state that Sabbaticals in any form (including Maternity Leave and Parental Leave of course) is accepted and encouraged

  • Work with a program called “The returners” which empowers women to get back into work.

  • Implementation of targets for hiring and retaining women, in parallel to creating a pipeline to ensure good choices

  • There is the possibility that women self-select out because of the way the advertisement is written. An example of this could be the terminology such as “needs gravitas” in the employment advertisement where women do not feel that the position fits their profile. It is thus important to better define the role in the beginning with as little stereotypical language as possible.

  • Teams conducting much of its recruiting through recruitment consultants need to make sure that consultants understand that they are specifically looking for women.

Corporate Culture:

  • Helping women by creating a corporate setting where they feel comfortable to talk about what they want and need

  • Create safe space for men to ask for flexible working hours. Men are often afraid to ask due to fear of looking weak

  • Redefine what Success means: Sustainability, Inclusion etc.

    • Measure senior people on their ability to build a diverse team

    • Particular coaching for women on how to progress and ask for promotion§ Encourage to talk about areas where women have complementary skills: attitude to risk management, willingness to ask questions reduces riskso A mandatory rule for senior employees to take parental leave could provide the necessary role models for middle management and the staff overall

Working conditions:

  • Ideas from what Silicon Valley has to offer:

    • Creches

    • Free lunches to encourage staff to eat together

    • Homeworking

    • Flexible working hours to manage time according to needs (can be changed over time such as part time when kids are small, full time later on, part time when parents need attention)

    • Encourage remote working which helps with mobility issues

  • Move away from the necessity to do “normal hours” and move towards objective measures of output and work

  • Maintain a policy of a 5pm cut-off for meetings

Career advancements:

  • Promotion processes need to be reworked to incorporate:

    • Offering career chances instead of having to ask

    • Instead of taking opportunities, offer opportunities

    • More coaching & mentoring opportunities 

    • Confidence booster sessions

    • Active encouragement for women to stand for promotion

    • Re-onboarding people back into the team after a sabbatical, maternity leave or parental leave through encouragement, support, “re-boarding program” and valorization of skillsets learned useful at work

    • Creating networking possibilities for women and men which do not include after-hour beers is important. Encouraging mingling in other settings help women tostay on the radar for promotions and new tasks or projects.

    • Demonstrate which soft skills and hard skills one acquires after different types of sabbaticals


What can the overall society and politics do to help gender inclusion at work and an overall better work-life balance for all employees?

Work-Life:

  • Better support system for dual career families by designing work days around families or schools so that both partners can work equally

  • Campaigns such as “daddy help” from the Network which increases awareness of the different ways women and men are a great start to highlight some changes, but it is a more powerful message if it comes from men advocating for a work-life balance

Culture and role models:

  • Cultural issues need to be addressed – The traditional societal system is the economic “system” which is set up to win or lose. We need to move away from capitalist model and move towards more social values

  • Role models for women and men need to be created and advertised, f.ex. career women and part time working men

  • The women need to know that their skills are valued and recognized. They need to build confidence.

  • Cultural norm needs to be created that men (and women) go home to be with the family at reasonable hours

  • Definition of what a successful person means is changing – not only career counts but the balance of life and career is becoming more important

  • Encourage seeing parental leave as a great learning experience: new perspectives, multitasking etc.

  • Unconscious bias – Work on women’s own expectations of themselves as feeling that their natural role is more in a homely setting than in a business setting

  • Women need to be encouraged to reach out to recruitment consultants.

Looking for best practices and examples how to implement changes and diversity and inclusion policies, contact us below!