Good Work for All: Raising confidence and ambition amongst frontline female workers at Royal Mail

After a company survey revealed a lack of confidence amongst female employees preventing them from seeking new responsibilities, Royal Mail decided to try and help frontline female workers to identify and overcome barriers to progression.

The company put in place The Springboard Women’s Development programme and 1,600 employees have now taken part. Royal Mail has seen a 10 per cent increase in women going into junior and middle management roles and also taking on further responsibilities within their workplace, A further 15 per cent have taken on roles as women union representations, workplace coaches and deputy managerial roles within the operation
Royal Mail is the UK’s sole designated Universal Postal Service Provider, connecting customers, business and communities across the country. We are proud to deliver a ‘one-price-goes-anywhere’ service on a range of letters and parcels to around 30 million addresses, six days a week. Royal Mail is one of the UK’s major employers, employing more than 140,000 people. One in every 185 jobs in the UK is provided by Royal Mail.

Royal Mail strives to employ a diverse mix of people that reflects the communities that we serve. We recognise that a diverse workforce is more likely to attract a wider customer base, have the ability to recognise new potential markets and to provide a better, more tailored service to meet individual needs.
 
In 2005, a company survey revealed a lack of confidence amongst female Royal Mail employees. It seemed that this issue was preventing them from seeking new responsibilities, which was reflected in the figures - at that time only 13% of managers in the business were women.
 
The process
This is when Royal Mail began working with The Springboard Women’s Development programme developed by the Springboard Consultancy Ltd, a world-leading international training and development consultancy.  The company wanted to help frontline female workers to identify and overcome barriers to confidence and progression. The programme is delivered over four one-day workshops in a three-month period and combines these sessions with ongoing self-paced learning via a workbook, support networks and female role models.

It aims to help women
  • Assess their current situation
  • Decide their next steps for personal and work development
  • Equip individuals with the positive attitude, confidence and skills to take these steps
  • Encourage participants to take responsibility for their own development
From 2005 to 2012 Royal Mail ran 50 Springboard programmes, reaching over 700 women, 10%  of whom progressed to take up management roles, or Workplace coach roles and representative roles within our main union, the Communication Workers Union (CWU).  Recognising the value delivered by the Springboard programme, in 2013 Royal Mail set a new target to support another 1,000 women through the programme, to continue to address the gender balance in frontline operational roles and junior managerial roles. 

Since then, more than 1,600 women have been through the programme. As a result, Royal Mail has recently seen a rise of another 10%  going into junior and middle management roles and also taking on further responsibilities within their workplace and a further 15% choosing roles as women union representations, workplace coaches and deputy managerial roles within the operation.

As part of the programme we now coach for CV writing and 60% the of the women involved now have a current CV. Royal Mail is looking at further development following the programme with coaching and mentoring alongside interview techniques training and access to the Royal Mail job site from their home computers/laptops and tablets.
 
The benefits
The business benefits for Royal Mail are clear. 88% of the programme members say that they are now likely to remain at Royal Mail. Royal Mail is increasingly seen as a female-friendly organisation and is now one of The Times’ Top 50 Employers for Women.
 
Andreyana Ivanova, Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Royal Mail Group, explains why the programme is so important:

“The Springboard programme at Royal Mail aims to empower our female colleagues and provide them with the confidence to be able to achieve their full potential. Along with other targeted programmes, it supports our commitment to increasing women’s representation and their move to management levels in Operations. Springboard is not only about supporting our colleagues’ career aspirations but also their lives and passions outside work.”