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There have been organisational and industry level attempts at setting gender diversity targets – some which have worked successfully and others not so.  The Hampton-Alexander review of voluntary targets set by the government for women on Boards in FTSE companies in the UK, undoubtedly speeded up the process of achieving a third of women on boards by the target date of 2020.

We recommend that a truly gender-diverse organisation has at least one-third of the under-represented gender to a maximum two-thirds of the dominant gender at all levels and through each function.  Organisations that have a reasonable level of gender diversity throughout its organisation are likely to deliver higher returns.


gender balance targets


Diversity targets can be like marmite – you either love them or hate them.  Either way, here’s our three tips for simple and effective target setting:

  1.  1. Make the targets gender neutral

Numbers and targets should be gender neutral.  Rather than saying “40% women by 2023” turn this into saying “we aim to have a maximum of 60% of any gender in any function and at any level by 2023”.

This helps to avoid the dominance of women in staff jobs and men in operational, technical and senior roles. It also helps to reduce the conflict of this being about men vs women but more specifically about building balanced teams.

  1.  2. Sit them alongside other business targets

Research shows that gender balance benefits business, customers and shareholders.  This makes it a business issue and not a women’s issue (as adopted by many organisations). Gender balance should be a business priority with targets set alongside other business processes.  After all, what gets measured gets done.

In dealing with gender balance targets as a business priority leaders and managers will be encouraged to understand the current situation, increase their knowledge whilst putting energy and resource into achieving their targets.  Give the leaders the tools to build their balanced teams and pipelines.

This approach will ensure they are not seen as quotas.

  1. 3. Make the targets realistic

Based on an analysis of your organisational talent pipeline, identifying gender gaps in recruitment, retention and promotion along with incorporating attrition rates it’s possible to get a realistic picture of the opportunities to impact on gender diversity.

Using this analysis to set realistic targets that can be achieved with leadership focus seems a reasonable and sustainable approach.

By following these three ways of setting your gender diversity targets you are embarking on an evolutionary journey towards achieving gender balance.

Talk to us about how we can help you to set your gender balance targets and create the conditions for targets to be achieved.

We recently ran educational sessions for the leadership and management of a large organisation. We received this feedback from Mo Patel, Head of Inclusion at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust:

“CM Talent have laid the foundations for a clear vision and blueprint to make our organisation and workplace work for everyone, now and for the future. I am happy to commend them to employers who are looking to make gender equality an organisational and leadership priority.”

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