The war for talent is intensifying and one of the chief battlegrounds is the drive for greater gender diversity. With the gender pay gap alone still standing at 14.4% for full-time staff, rising to 43.2% for part-time workers, it is a battle many seem to be losing. Simon Kent discovers how international financial services company Citigroup won the Opportunity Now City Focus Award for Commitment to Female Talent.
Having recognised the need to address the retention and progression of female talent in the company only last year, Citigroup introduced a number of initiatives, from networking to recruitment techniques and achieved remarkable success.
The Europe, Middle East and Americas (EMEA) operating committee has risen from 9% to 14% female, while 37% of graduate intake is now female, compared to an industry standard of 25%. The proportion of female managing directors in the company has risen by 4% in the past two years.
Lynne Fisher, head of diversity and talent management, said the organisation's success has come through the use of '100-day task teams' - groups made up of diverse employees who were charged with delivering solutions to strict and short deadlines.
"The teams had to be diverse - they had to include people from different countries across the EMEA region, different disciplines and be a mix of men and women," she said. "We wanted to see results quickly rather than making recommendations for consideration by management. This approach had a clear action focus and suited our results-focused culture."
The teams were sponsored by senior managers. Fisher said they energised the work through their commitment as well as ensuring the team's activities remained constant on the task in hand.
Each team identified innovative practice and delivered pilot schemes in their particular area. Successful pilots were then adopted and developed by the diversity function and HR who expanded initiatives across functions and company businesses.
One initiative has seen the introduction of a mentoring programme which links female employees with the most senior person in their particular business. "The women were selected carefully to ensure they were at key points in their career," said Fisher, "They had just returned from maternity or perhaps were due for a promotion."
This mentoring s