The unique challenge of being a business that only promotes from within
At April’s Women’s Forum I was asked why, given we already have two female GMs, there weren’t any female city managers.
My answer was this. We’ve become self-aware as a company of building a more diverse talent pool. We’ve become educated that this is an important issue. Over the years we’ve evolved so now we’re also measuring our performance and I can say for the first time that we have a fantastic pool of female area managers. It’s only a question of time before we get a female city manager.
We start building the talent pool at MT level and females now represent almost 40 per cent of our UK employee base, and that almost 30 per cent of our managers are women. I am delighted to announce that we have once again seen our name listed in a prestigious list of the Times and Business in the Community Top 50 Employers for Women.
Our strategy is to recruit a diverse pool of talented candidates including women where the best and brightest will get promoted. Being a woman does not get anyone the job: it’s your abilities that do.
Which takes me into a broader issue. It takes time to understand why the Enterprise culture is so vital to our success – and why diversity is a lynchpin of our strategy rather than something we say. So in this edition of Drive I want to create a context for the work that we do to build a business that can embrace all ambitions, from the intern who is still at university to the Enterprise veteran who has been with the business for many years.
I want to do this because I know that our strategy of employing graduates and promoting from within means that many employees may have very little experience of working in other businesses.
So it may be difficult for our people to grasp just how uniquely precious and valuable this strategy is – and how challenging this can be in terms of ensuring diversity and quality.
The challenge of building a business that only promotes from within is that we must create a place where people want to work long term, because if they leave, we cannot replace them with someone from another company who has comparable skills and experience. We have to start again with a management trainee.
However, many of our employees have never had the experience of devoting themselves to a company that says that it wants to provide career opportunities, but looks to a competitor to recruit managers when that desirable senior position becomes available.
Or experience of those businesses that say they want to promote their people but enable glass ceilings to persist. Or that don’t make the promotion path transparent so that everyone, from trainees to the CEO, gets measured on the same simple metrics. Or that don’t drill employee development into every appraisal and promotion to ensure that every manager in the business makes it their purpose to nurture their people.
In this edition, you may read stories of individuals who have progressed rapidly by using the tools which Enterprise provides to all employees to enable their success and to build a culture which is fun. You may also read about training programmes that develop our managers into ambassadors so they can head back into their groups and nurture the ambitions of those who are taking their first steps in our business.
There is a lot that we still have to do to build the business that we want to be, but I want to congratulate everyone for their hard work and effort so far.