Retain talent and level the playing field with targeted personal development

Workplaces are unfair. Employers inadvertently mirror the systemic inequality of UK society:

  • Only 2% of FTSE 100 CEOs are from a black or minority ethnic background, as compared to around 19% of the overall UK population.
  • 11% of FTSE Boards have no women on them and women are paid 20% less than men. In some industries, less than half of maternity returners return to their employment long term.
  • There are currently only two CEOs of FTSE 100 companies who are openly LGBT+ and there is pressure on LGBT+ leaders not to be open about their sexual identity: 28% of LGBT+ Owners, CEOs, MDs, Board members say they are not ‘out’.
  • Employment discrimination against people with disabilities is still the norm – in 2019, most business leaders surveyed admitted that they would feel ‘apprehensive’ or ‘very apprehensive’ about hiring a senior person with disabilities.
  • Although just 7% of the population attend independent fee-paying schools in the UK, the privately educated population still constitutes 74% of top judges; 71% of top military officers; 51% of leading print journalists, and 34% of FTSE 100 CEOs (and this last figure is distorted by the international nature of CEO hiring.)

Lack of representation at the top is a business problem.

There is increasing evidence that homogenous leadership teams lack innovation, have a weaker talent pipeline, and make poor decisions.  This is especially true when they fail to represent their customer base.

Equal treatment is not the answer

We are not all starting from the same place. Our differences can create barriers to participation, particularly when there are overlapping aspects of disadvantage at play. That’s why we provide research-based programmes for target groups. 

Our target programmes are not about fixing people. They’re about creating a shared safe space for development, where everyone feels supported to share experiences with those who get it.  

Our target programmes are only one part of the Equality, Inclusion & Diversity jigsaw because most of the change must be at the organisational level.  Nonetheless, they play an important role in building the confidence and resilience of people who, with the right support, will challenge inequality and be the diverse leaders of the future.

Related Article

Do we really need Women in Leadership Programmes?


More women hold leadership positions than ever before. That’s great news, except… there are still more FTSE 100 CEOs called Steve than there are women on that list. You’re even less likely to see someone who looks like you if you have an ethnic minority background or are openly ‘out’ as LGBTQ+.

Read more

How we create this change

Choose the products to help you and your organisation

Confidence and Impact Workshop for Women

To increase your confidence and impact through self-discovery and skills practice

Many women don’t identify with traditional or alpha models of assertiveness, power and success and there can be a tendency to perceive shortcomings, rather than value difference.

This two day workshop supports professional women to own their personal version of confidence and impact, through a combination of deep inner work and very practical advice. 

Having more confident women, who are supporting and championing each other, won’t eliminate injustice and bias, but it will empower more women to call out bias when they see it, put themselves forward and take more risks. This will see more women (including working parents) moving up the ladder, which in turn will provide the much needed role models, mentors, sponsors and inspiration for the next generation.

As a result of this workshop, you will have:

  • Increased confidence in yourself and your capabilities
  • The ability to sell yourself in a way that feels authentic
  • Greater awareness of any inner critic voices holding you back and new skills to manage them (imposter syndrome)
  • Greater understanding of the equal value and power of introverts and extroverts
  • Increased confidence in communication and public speaking, based on your version of presence
  • Greater understanding of gender inequality and the systemic role confidence plays
  • Insight into the neuroscience debate about our gender differences and feminine strengths
  • A strong community of peer support

The workshop is highly interactive, and will suit participants who would like to work on increasing their inner confidence and who are willing to be open-minded and to try new concepts and creative ways of learning.

Two Day Workshop

Confidence and Impact Workshop for Target Groups

We began our targeted work on Confidence and Impact with women. That’s what our clients were asking for back in 2016, and it’s a space we naturally relate to because we are ourselves female leaders. 

However, a diversity agenda is flawed if it’s translated as being mostly about gender. To create lasting change we must all recognise – and become comfortable talking about – the many ways that human difference can block success. Our research and experience leaves us in no doubt that it’s harder to feel confident and to make best use of your strengths if you feel different to mainstream organisational culture. That includes the most obvious elements of identity like skin colour, age and accent – but also applies to more subtle and nuanced aspects like educational background.   We already include a session on introversion vs extraversion in our Confidence & Impact workshop – because we have witnessed that people who prefer a more introverted style often feel less than, or marginalised or judged.

We create bespoke workshops and keynote talks on Confidence and Impact for a wide range of different audiences. So far these have included LGBTQ+ and BAME audiences. We’d also be keen to explore intersectional experiences in this area; and to work on social mobility, education and class; and on neuro-diversity, dyslexia and mental health.  We’d be thrilled to explore these topics with you – contact us to set up a conversation.

Resilience Workshop for Target Groups

There is no doubt that different demographic and social groups experience stress differently. We have been researching this since 2010 and continue to be fascinated by the emerging science.  The female stress response is only relatively recently being studied: see our take on Taylor et al's "Tend and Befriend" v "Fight or Flight" response in our Women and Stress article due for publication soon.

Working parents have an obvious resilience disadvantage, and women are still the group who have the lion’s share of unpaid family and caring duties in our society. 

We have run the Resilience section of Thomson Reuter’s award-winning Leadership for Women programme since 2010, helping them to level their gender playing field. 

And – it’s not just women who face additional stressors. Good habits that support resilience are harder to embed if you feel self-conscious, isolated or undermined; for example if you’re the ‘only one’ on the team who is LGBT+, or BAME, or who isn’t degree-educated, or who has dyslexia or long term health problems. In all cases, people often report feeling over-scrutinised and that they have to prove themselves, which gets in the way of challenging unrealistic workloads, saying no, and asking for help. There’s still a lack of quantitative data to back up what we know, but more is emerging all the time – and it presents a shocking picture.  Did you know, for example, that 81% of LGBT+ people have experienced a mental health condition, and 72% of those attribute their mental health issues to work?[1] Or that 12% of BAME LGBT people report having lost a job in the last year because of being LGBT?[2]

We create bespoke workshops and keynote talks on Resilience for a wide range of different audiences. So far these have included LGBTQ+, BAME and female audiences.  We cover our regular resilience content, inviting participants to explore how the overlay of their identity helps or hinders them.

We’d be thrilled to explore these topics with you – contact us to set up a conversation.

[1]Cited in The Prince’s Responsible Business Network: Working with Pride, Issues affecting LGBT+ people in the workplace. Published on 30 January 2019

[2]Stonewall: LGBT Work in Britain Report, Chaka L. Bachmann Stonewall, Becca Gooch YouGov.

Maternity and Working Parent Coaching

The business case for maternity and returner coaching is clear. Increasing numbers of maternity leave returners are opting out of employment or going freelance in an attempt to balance the competing demands of a high commitment career and being a present parent. In some sectors as many as half of those going on mat leave with their second child do not make a long-term return (Halryngo and Lyng, 2009.) This is creating a (mostly female) talent drain of 30-45 year old professionals who are at their peak in terms of training, experience and value to the organisation (Cahusac and Kanji 2014.) The commercial implications – lost experience, expensive recruitment and retraining costs, and under-representation of women in senior leadership – are potentially disastrous.

Maternity and Returner coaching is one way to address this issue, by helping returners make a positive transition back to work. 

Whilst every client is different, typical outcomes include:

  • Increased confidence in yourself: owning your place back at the table
  • Owning your strengths and your range
  • Finding your way of best combining a high commitment career with being a present parent
  • Support to work through live business issues with an ally
  • Getting clear on immediate and long-term career plans and how this period can work for you in achieving them
  • Feeling calmer, happier and more engaged through a sense of increased control and choice
  • Higher performance and better relationships with others

Six Coaching sessions per maternity leave (with one session taken prior to leave, one during leave and four on return.)

I’ve attended numerous courses over my career but I’m struggling to think of one that has had quite such an impact as yours. I came out buzzing with inspiration and ideas – and several days later I’m still feeling it.”

Anna Hollaway
Head of Global Sales Strategy and Planning, BBC

I found maternity coaching with White & Lime invaluable. The coaching had a significant impact on re-gaining my confidence levels on my return to work. Each time, I left the sessions feeling amazing and full of self-belief. The sessions were a mix of working on deeply personal feelings and getting to grips with balancing the logistics of a return to work. My Coach was incredibly knowledgeable in both.”

Mary Dean
Senior Associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

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