Case Studies

Case Studies

Recruitment and Selection Processes

Case Study on Job Design and Description Formulation

Organisation A’s Intended Outcome – Encouraging Greater Gender Balance in the Technology Sector

Organisation A is an employer in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sector. As the number of women entering STEM roles is generally lower than the number of men, Organisation A, like many STEM organisations, found it difficult to achieve gender balance across the enterprise. Recognising this, Organisation A adopted a variety of practices to promote greater gender balance at all levels, including:-

  • A comprehensive review of job descriptions. This was based on previous research which revealed that the language and number of items listed on a job description can determine whether or not women are likely to apply for particular roles.
    • The research was from a Hewlett Packard report featured in Harvard Business Review in 2014 which stated that men will apply for a role for which they meet only 60 percent of the requirements while women will not apply unless they have 100 percent of the stated requirements
  • The job descriptions were then categorised into job families. Creating job families essentially involves grouping jobs together according to profession, skills and competencies, and level of knowledge required for organisational roles.
  • To encourage more women applicants, Organisation A’s hiring managers and HR business partners updated the language in their job descriptions to make them gender neutral, that is, using a combination of language perceived as masculine and feminine:-
    • Words perceived as masculine include Decisive, Determined, Challenging, Competitive, Lead, Independently, Superior
    • Words perceived as feminine include Committed, Cooperative, Connected, Dependable, Interpersonal, Loyal, Responsible, Supportive
  • Lastly, having established where women were less likely than their male peers to apply for a position, the competencies, skills and job requirements were reviewed at Organisation A and a clearer differentiation was made between critical and desirable requirements for each job.


Performance Management Process

Case Study on Job Design and Description Formulation

Organisation B’s Intended Outcome – Introduce Competency-based Evaluations

Organisation B is a leading global financial services firm. In line with a competency-based approach to recruitment and selection, Organisation B’s Leadership Standards framework was designed to reflect the core competencies and behaviours expected of individuals in leadership positions. A competency-based performance management system is a formalized method of establishing the skills and behaviours that employees need to have and exhibit in their current roles and for future growth in their organisations.

The next step for Organisation B was to ensure that the goals set for performance appraisals were aligned with the competencies listed in job descriptions. The Leadership Goals below were written in gender-neutral language. They were also openly available to all employees to provide transparency on Leadership accountability within the Organisation:-

  • Drives Client Value – Creates unique value for internal and external clients based on expertise and in-depth knowledge of the stakeholder environment
  • Delivers Results – Raises the bar and creates a clear path towards sustainable results
  • Leads Change – Pioneers and accelerates productive and innovative changes that support Organisation B’s vision and global strategy
  • Acts as an Owner – Takes responsibility for addressing problems, finding solutions and making prudent decisions
  • Works as a Partner – Collaborates and partners to break down barriers
  • Builds Great Teams – Creates a competitive advantage by emphasizing talent, learning and apprenticeship


Promotion and Succession Process

Case Studies on Top Management Support

Intended Outcome – Ownership of Gender Diversity Approach and KPIs by Senior Leadership and, for Organisation C, public commitment to increase the number of women holding senior roles

Responsibility for designing and monitoring policies that affect the gender composition of organisations generally resides within the HR Department. However, their role in achieving gender balance is made easier when a member of the top management team has accountability for achieving gender balance with the premise of ‘what gets measured gets done’. On top of this, senior management achieve greater success when they actively demonstrate their support for making gender balance a priority for the organisation, beyond integrating it into strategic goals and plans. Management Initiatives to effectively support gender balance include:-

  • Raising Awareness among male executives of the need for gender balance, including encouraging men to take on roles as sponsors for women who had been identified as high-potential candidates. Multiple organisations have instigated the MARC (Men Advocating Real Change) initiative, with the primary aim is to support and inspire men to drive meaningful change with regard to gender roles within their own organisations.
  • Investment in time and resource for gender diversity programmes. This may include investing in executive coaching for women, establishing employee resource groups or addressing reward allocation mechanisms that perpetuate a gender pay gap.


An effective illustration for the effectiveness of Top Management support relates to a UK Bank, Organisation C. In 2014, Organisation C made a public commitment to increase the proportion of senior management roles held by women to 40 percent by 2020. The company has subsequently reached a figure of 29 percent representation of women in senior management roles and was voted among The Times Top 50 best places to work for women in 2015.

Case Study on Support Programmes & Flexible Working Policies

Intended Outcome – Higher Company Visibility for Participants

A practice that can has been adopted at multiple Companies is the introduction of employee resource groups (ERGs). An ERG brings together employees who share the same characteristics (e.g., gender), experiences (e.g., remote workers) or interests (e.g., environmental). The premise behind ERGs is to provide support within the workplace for these groups while recognising difference and promoting inclusion.

Employees may choose to be a member of more than one ERG. Membership provides opportunities for networking with individuals with whom the employee might not otherwise be in contact during the course of their work. This benefits the organisation as well as broadening communication links.

Finally, for individuals who take on the responsibility of running ERG events, such as specialist seminars, their own visibility to senior leaders in the organisation is enhanced, which provides them with opportunities to display talents beyond that of their immediate job role.

Case Study on Flexible Working Policies

Intended Outcome – Higher Company Visibility for Participants with Leadership Aspirations

Other forms of employee support may focus on work and career flexibility. Part-time working, remote working and flexible working hours are standard work-life balance options within many organisations today; these options are leveraged by women and men alike.

As these policies have grown in scale across all industries it has been recognised there is a need to consciously focus on the visibility of individuals taking advantage of flexible working options.

Some remote workers believe that their working arrangements limited their opportunity for advancement since they are physically less visible in the organisation, even as their work outputs are visible. The additional concern, shared by part-time employees and those on flexible working hours, is that career progression can stall because such arrangements are not viewed as compatible with more senior.

It is also recognised that this perception of incompatibility has two sides. It can arise from the individual, thus self-limiting their aspiration and from the Company, thus limiting the potential future leadership pool.

There are steps Companies can take to mitigate this impact, for example:-

  • Core Hours Policy – Organisation D introduced a policy of ‘core meeting hours’, whereby critical meetings were only to be scheduled between the hours of 10am and 3pm. The aim of the policy was to reduce the likelihood of employees with flexible working arrangements missing a meeting or having to put alternative arrangements in place to make the meeting.
  • Video-Conference facilities – Organisation D also introduced the ability for remote workers to increase their visibility when attending meetings by use of laptop-based video-conferencing technology.

To overcome barriers, organisations should also work to support flexible working arrangements in senior as well as middle and junior roles. For many organisations this may be a large culture shift but we are moving apace into new working practices where flexibility and ambition are compatible.

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