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How to Increase Female Promotability by 66%

How Mars Implemented a Female Talent Development Program Resulted in 14 Internal Promotions in 18 months

I have always been a firm believer that mentoring helps individuals achieve their full potential. In my personal case, mentoring has allowed me to face the challenges that involve going from a small, one person business to a company with multiple consultants. Nowadays, we help the biggest names in the industry find the talent that they need to implement their most strategic assignments. 

This made me look into how mentoring affects performance and how effective mentoring programs are. An in-depth case study performed by Wharton University at Sun Microsystems showed that:

  • Employees who participated in the mentoring program were five times more likely to advance in pay grade, and mentors made even more progress.

  • Mentees were promoted five times more than those not in the program, and mentors six times more.

  • Retention rates were significantly higher for mentees (72%) and for mentors (69%) than for employees who did not participate (49%).

The topic of diversity and inclusion is one which is a key priority for most C-level executives and the solution isn’t an easy one. This made me look at the effect mentoring programs had on diversity within organizations and how that can be leveraged even further.

Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations found that mentoring programs boosted minority representation at the management level by 9% to 24% (compared to -2% to 18% with other diversity initiatives). The same study found that mentoring programs also dramatically improved promotion and retention rates for minorities and women—15% to 38% as compared to non-mentored employees.

After finding out about all of this, I contacted Emer Brady, former L&D Director at Mars and a fellow diversity activist. She told me about her own experience with mentoring, running mentoring programs for Blue Chip Multinationals. I found out that the results of mentoring are astonishing if they are implemented correctly!

Case Study: Mars - Female Talent Development Program Resulted in 14 Internal Promotions in 18 months

Quotes from participants: 

“I did not buy into the program In the beginning, I was skeptical.   … my mentor was invaluable …. I did this!”  

“This experience was life changing …. I have learnt to create boundaries for myself so that I can give back to the business”   

“ I was stuck, this gave me the ‘kick in the pants’ to get unstuck, I am now thinking about the next move and the one after that… I am now as comfortable and confident as I can be”  


In 2017, Emer Brady, was an L&D Director for Mars at the time, put together a mentoring program to develop their internal female talent. It was a female mentoring program where they teamed up Senior Account Executives with Sales Directors, but from different geographies and different parts of the business – eg Asia gum with US petcare etc. 

They engaged the line managers from the outset and were clear on their role in the process, as well as working the mentoring objectives into the Personal Development Plans of the participants.

The results of this program were outstanding and out of the 15 females who attended, 10 were internally promoted within 18 months. 4 of those 10 were promoted to Sales Director level (2 levels higher) within the 18 months. 2 of those 4 were promoted 4 levels up to GM of significant markets or Regional VP within 4 years of the program. 

State 1: Mars wanted to develop their female internal talent to add diversity to their management roles 

State 2: After the program, out of the 15 females who attended, 10 were internally promoted within 18 months. 4 of those 10 were promoted to Sales Director level (2 levels higher).

Time Frame: 18 Months

Here is the Truth:

You can increase the promotability of your internal female talent using data science and AI. 

However, today most HR teams are not using tools that can help them map out their internal capabilities. They also do not have a curated network of experienced c-level executives outside of their industry who are passionate about building cross-industry knowledge. They lack the time to build such programs that support this development and execution sometimes falls through the cracks. 

Females are notoriously known for focusing so much on their team and internal performance that they do not continue to develop their knowledge through external exposure. This is not because they do not want to, but because they prioritize performance over learning and development. 

We are the best people dedicated to solving this problem for HR teams of FMCG organizations. 

My core concept is that you do not need to spend hundreds of thousands of Euros on executive search firms when you can build a program for your female talent to make sure that they are getting the development which they need to become CEOs one day. The reason why companies have to bring in top external talent is because they have not sufficiently been able to develop them as they have their male counterparts. 

Internal development programs are great, but only when paired with external exposure. 

Our Background and Team

Before we get into the steps and how-tos, here is a quick background on LS International for credibility reasons. 

For what it matters, we were founded in 2015. We help large blue-chip multinationals such as Danone, Carlsberg, and Puma, just to name a few with their talent needs. Our services include internal talent development, team development, executive search, and career consulting.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Lauren Stiebing and for the past 8 years, I have been identifying top talent with a 92.8% success rate and a 45% female placement rate. 

This has been thankful to 3 things, my passion for people, taking the extra time to network with the great female leaders of this industry, and for tools such as SuccessFinder.

Since starting this business, I have been listening to clients say that their talent needs to have more diversified experiences. They have been moving them to different countries, paying for expat packages and MBAs. Companies are cutting these benefits more and more, but are still requiring this diversified experience and broad knowledge gain. Companies must face the fact that females may not want to move countries every 2-3 years and if they are really invested in their development, it is their duty to provide them with other options.  

I have tried to look for affordable solutions to this issue and have been left with nothing. 

After being discouraged by what I found out, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create LS International’s Executive Mentoring Program.

By my side, I have Emer Brady who for the last 20 years has worked in the FMGC/CPG industry in HR and Learning and Development. She has worked at market, regional and for the last 10 years at a global level. She brings a wealth of experience on how to develop and retain top talent.

She recently started her own company and already among her clients there is a theme emerging. It seems that many companies are struggling to find a solution that helps develop the right capabilities within their current talent pool that will drive success in the future. They want to develop agility, enterprise mindsets, collaboration across geographies and different parts of the business, to name a few. 

She is excited to collaborate with LS International on building this Executive Mentoring program (with a twist) because it is one tool we could offer to FMCG/CPG Leaders that fosters many of these future leader capabilities.

By my side, I have Bruno Lubeigt. Bruno had a 18+ year career in the FMCG Industry working for P&G, Orangina Schweppes and Cadbury, having lived and/or worked in eight countries across Asia, Europe and North America. 

Bruno has transitioned from being a hard-charging profit-driven business leader to an executive coach who helps senior executives understand and transcend the psychological postures that impede their performance and growth. 

Client review

Bruno is a certified SuccessFinder practitioner. OD Consultant. MBA from ESSEC and a graduate from the Coaching Academy (Paris). Passionate about helping people grow by enabling them to find who they really are and what they are good at.

Over 5 Years of Driving Outstanding Professional Careers for Blue Chip Multinationals

Here’s the 4-Step Process to a Successful Mentoring Program for Female Leaders

This “new way” challenges conventional mentoring because the “old way” of development is not effective in the current business environment. Female leaders need both internal and external developmental plans to be able to grow the levels which they deserve to be. 

Step 1: Scientifically Map Out The Current Capabilities Of The Organization

Before HR leaders would ask managers and rely on subjective feedback to create a developmental plan for an individual. The output is directly linked to the type of relationship between a manager and their ability to accurately identify talent and know how to develop the gaps for success. I am sure you have studied unconscious bias and you can understand that this doesn’t make sense. 

Using AI tools which gives you a scientific result provides you with a much more objective view of the individual’s gaps and developmental areas. 

By using an AI tool, this allows you to identify the internal capabilities and gaps faster with more accuracy.

There are tools which include powerful insights into the individual’s behavioural strengths and preferences, and their linkages with predicted performance. For both HR and hiring managers, this is priceless information. This can greatly reduce the risk of incorrect hiring decisions or believing that an individual needs more time to develop because of unconscious bias. 

There is a tool which reflects 85 Behavioural Traits and 26 Competencies through 340 pairs of statements. Its ipsative (“forced choice”) approach requires candidates to choose the one statement from each pair that they believe applies more to them. The tool benchmarks each candidate against an extensive international database of professionals in specific roles and/or domains qualified as “highly successful”, “average” and “failing”. 

Some tools are able to leverage relevant predictive analytics through an integrated platform, powered by sophisticated algorithms and these are the types of tools which will keep your talent ahead of the rest.

In September 2019, Manuela Nocker and Vania Sena, from Essex University, published an article titled “Big Data and Human Resources Management: The Rise of Talent Analytics”. In this article, they stated that “The key contribution of talent analytics to value creation is in the fact that it allows one to exploit individual level data and help design measures that can support employees in a personalized way” 

In their article, they used Josh Bersin’s Talent Analytics Function , to talk about the 4 levels of maturity. Our experience tells us that most companies are between levels 2 and 3. If a company relies on Big Data and AI they could easily advance to level 3 and 4.

Step 2: Find Programs Which Can Support The Female's Specific Developmental Areas

In the past, there were no external programs specifically designed for females. 

This resulted in females either finding support on their own, organizing and paying for it, or getting left behind their male counterparts. It was extremely difficult for females to grow within companies as they were always trying to fit into the male mold. 

The best option is to identify a network which can support the specific developmental areas of each female individual and match them with a c-level executive who has strengths in those areas. This provides a much more targeted approach which allows the individual to only focus on her gaps, instead of a broad set of skills which some of them may already be an expert in.

Too often we see teams and leaders working in silos with very little cross geography collaboration, not operating with enterprise mindsets or seeking out external provocation. Yet these are the behaviours that female leaders should be exhibiting to drive businesses into the future. This creates an opportunity for internal female talent to experience a different style of leadership. Understand what it is like to work with someone 2 or 3 levels above where they are today in a trustful environment. Competition is high at these levels and having someone which she can share her weaknesses with, will help her tremendously to develop. She can be matched with someone who excels in the areas they need to develop that will guide and walk alongside them for 12 months.

This allows the individual to be exposed to different ways of working, a different way to manage and a different way to think. They then bring that breadth of thinking back into the workplace and use it to develop their teams as well as developing capabilities that they will carry through their careers.

Step 3: Effectively Monitor Program

When females attend external programs, usually no feedback is given by an external program manager and even then it is difficult to gather merasuable data. This results in little or no understanding of what that individual is learning. 

What should be provided are clearly defined check in meetings with the program manager where they would update you on the individual’s progress based on the initial assessment and goals. This results in much less time spent, and you would be provided with clear, tangible, accurate progress. You would be able to avoid time wasted and disappointment by you and individuals. 

In order to achieve measurable results, there must be a clear flow of feedback from the program manager.

Step 4: Assess Final Program Result and Promotability

A certificate of compilation is usually rewarded or not, and there is no real understanding of achieved learnings. Gut decision taken based on past performance and belief in the certificate. This results in not promoting qualified individuals, or promoting individuals based only on success in the past. There could be a high failure rate of female leaders, and then you are required to bring in external talent. 

If you use a final program assessment and c-level executive feedback to consider most appropriate future promotion, this gives you a broader scope of the promotions which this individual would be suitable for and sets that individual up for success.

 A quick recap of what you will need to do provide critical experiences to increase female promotability by 66%:

  1. Scientifically Map Out The Current Capabilities Of The Organization 

  2. Find Programs Which Can Support The Individual’s Developmental Areas 

  3. Effectively Monitor Program 

  4. Assess Final Program Result And Promotability

If executed well, not only can you significantly reduce the time needed to promote your internal female talent, but also, you will end up spending much less time and effort in the process. Which means you can focus on other aspects of your work, even as the development is underway. But perhaps best of all, you and your high potential female talent can avoid the risk of being disappointed by programs which do not address their specific developmental needs.

What Leaders Have to Say:

“(Mentoring) Can keep you relevant and sharp to learn from other industries, learn from other people. So I think it’s essential”

Nancy Rooney, VP Marketing Pepsico

“Why consider an external mentoring program:

  1. You get everything which mentoring is supposed to be about: helping and learning.
  2. You receive unsolicited help on problem solving, political issues, can challenge and get challenged in a different way. One also has more empathy because it is external.
  3. You both help one another network. You have opportunities to facilitate introductions and partnership. Good networking and good business.”

Brian Sharp, Chief Revenue Officer Profit Velocity

Working Women: Valerie Jarret and the Importance of  Mentoring

By Michelle Obama, Chief Revenue Officer Profit Velocity

Benefits of Partnering with LS International

  • You can forget about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on bringing in external female talent and develop your own instead. 

  • You will be able to scientifically identify areas of development. 

  • You will be able to bring in new capabilities for a fraction of the cost. 

  • You will be able to be recognized as someone with innovative talent development ideas.

  • You will be able to be recognized as someone leading the way in employee engagement.  

  • You will be able to show the GM and line manager the clear results of the program. 

  • You can forget about spending thousands of euros in training and development with no clear accountability or results. 

  • You can feel that your finger is truly on the pulse of the organization by supporting innovative development solutions which are curated for each female individual instead of a generic program.

How does it work?

1. Understand Internal Talent with the Help of AI

Before when you wanted to assess capability gaps, you would rely on subjective assessments from managers and team members. But now when you partner with LS International, you can use the power of SuccessFinder to scientifically map out the individual’s full capabilities based on 85 behavioral traits and 26 key competencies without hidden agendas or subjective data. Do you see how easy that is?

2. Grow your HiPos by Matching them with Director+ Level Executives Outside your Sector

Before when you wanted to identify which training and developmental programs for females, you didn’t know where to turn. But now, you can use LS International’s curated network of C-level individuals and find the best match for your talent in a fraction of the time.

LS International’s network has an enormous range across FMCG, Retail, Technology, Banking, Insurance, etc… depending on which skills and knowledge you would like your talent to gain, we will choose the perfect match for her

3. Develop your Internal Capabilities with this Handcrafted Program by L&D Leaders

Before when you wanted to monitor the execution of the program via personalized check ins, you would have chase down the individuals or program manager to demand updates with little or no success. But now, you can receive one-to-one quarterly updates with Emer Brady, expert in L&D without any planning or effort involved. 

4. Full Report On Program Success

Before when you wanted to assess the success of a program and promotability you would look to a certificate of completion or subjective feedback from the employee. But now you will  receive a complete and robust feedback report with the final program achievements and feedback from the non-biased c-level executive. You can decide on their promotability without using gut decisions.

What will LS International help you achieve?

If you wanted to expose your female talent to different ways of working, a different way to manage and different skills. However, you would need to spend 100,000+ Euros on an MBA Program. 

We are cheaper than MBA programs and still allow your talent to develop cross geography collaboration, different styles of leadership. They will be able to understand what it is like to work with someone 2 or 3 levels above where they are today in a trustful environment. She can be matched with someone who excels in the areas they need to develop that will guide and walk alongside them for 12 months.

This allows the individual to then bring that breadth of thinking back into the workplace and use it to develop their teams as well as developing capabilities that they will carry through their careers.

Traditional external development programs have been inefficient with often little or no feedback upon completion. 

With LS International’s Mentoring Program Here’s What You Get: 

  • SuccessFinder Assessment. This will allow you to identify the capability gap using AI. 

  • Assessment Feedback session with C-level executive turned coach, a certified SuccessFinder practitioner.

  • Initial Assessment Report: This will allow you to have a full understanding of the individual’s strengths, areas of concern, leadership style, expertise alignment. 

  • 12-Month Mentoring Program with C-level Executives from Another Industry. This will allow you to let LS International do the program work and make sure the relationship is running smoothly. 

  • Quarterly 1-2-1 catch ups. This will allow you to have personalized feedback and updates on the individual’s progress in the program. 

  • Facilitate two face to face meetings. This will boost knowledge exchange. 

  • Full Program Feedback Report. This will allow the individual to be held fully accountable and you will be able to show the CEO/GM that individual’s development. 

Mentoring Program Timeline

FAQ

This is a complement to a leadership development program, not a replacement. Think about it this way, in order to continuously develop as a leader, throughout your career you will need to undergo development programs, mentorship programs, capability building programs, industry networks,  etc…

The individual will be exposed to different ways of working, a different way to manage and a different way to think. They then bring that breadth of thinking back into the workplace and use it to develop their teams as well as developing capabilities that they will carry through their careers.They will gain insight into the pros and cons of various career options and paths, the opportunity to enhance self esteem and confidence when interacting with senior leaders outside of their organization and the opportunity for objective feedback on their executive presence.

Emer Brady, was an L&D Director for Mars at the time, put together a mentoring program to develop their internal female talent. It was a female mentoring program where they teamed up Senior Account Executives with Sales Directors, but from different geographies and different parts of the business – eg Asia gum with US petcare etc. 

They engaged the line managers from the outset and were clear on their role in the process, as well as working the mentoring objectives into the Personal Development Plans of the participants.

The results of this program were outstanding and out of the 15 females who attended, 10 were internally promoted within 18 months. 4 of those 10 were promoted to Sales Director level (2 levels higher) within the 18 months. 2 of those 4 were promoted 4 levels up to GM of significant markets or Regional VP within 4 years of the program.

This assessment has an 85% accuracy and every placement which we have used this assessment, the client has been extremely satisfied and 100% of them are still working in the company. We are sharing this as an example to demonstrate how companies can leverage this to get the most out of their employee as they grow within the company.

Jean-Luc Ayme – Former P&G Director 

“When Bruno introduced me to the SuccessFinder behavioural assessment tool, I was at first extremely skeptical. Having been taken through numerous tests in my professional life, I didn’t expect much beyond the usual “one size fits all” fluffy stuff.

I have to say I was totally impressed by the results. Not only did the test perfectly identify my behavioural habits and preferences, but it did so in a way that I even had never fully managed to grasp.

On top of the tests’ incredibly powerful insights, Bruno himself did add a lot of extra value based on his extensive experience as a top manager as well as a coach. He did not stop at delivering the results, but helped me a great deal in making sense of the numerous items that are measured by the test.

I wish I had discovered SuccessFinder way earlier as it would have helped me a great deal with my recruitments, internal promotions, choice of Executive Committee members, but also with my career and life choices.

You’ve got to try it !”

Of course you need to continue using your own internal competency model, this is the language of your organisation. The competencies used in SucessFinder are very broad industry terms and you will be able to relate those directly to your competency model and see where they align. As a result your employee can insert their development areas as identified by SuccessFinder into their personal development plan and create focus throughout the program.

This will be discussed at the beginning of the program to understand when the best time for each of them would be and what the transportation, hotel, appropriate meeting location, etc…would look like.

We will share a report with the assessment results at the beginning of the program, clearly defined outcomes/deliverables, as well as a report at the end of the program updating those deliverables.

We would assess the issue and reassign the mentee a new mentor. With the quarterly check ins this is very unlikely to happen but it is a possibility and we will solve it so that the mentee is able to get the most out of the experience.

One thing to remember is that with this program we have no control on the Mentee’s capability, learning agility or support network to put into action the learnings from the program. If they complain their manager isn’t allowing them to be promoted or blocking career moves we can only coach, not take affirmative action and ultimately results.

It’s a possibility and we don’t have legal jurisdiction to prevent that. However we will of course speak to all Mentors in advance about this and the negative impact it will have on the overall program. We know if your employee is feeling connected to their organisation, valued and invested in, then the chance of this happening is very remote. We also know that people leave managers, not companies, so it is important that the HR/Talent Director has a conversation with the manager to help them understand their role in this process. The manager will need to be open to allowing the individual to practice new found techniques and tools and ensuring that this mentoring is included in the development plan and they are coaching and pushing the individual to grow and learn.

The mentee will need to be elected by  October 1st, 2020 and the program will kick off on January 11th 2021. 

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