7 Steps to Developing Diverse Talent

27 May 2022

We sat down with industry leader Greg Eppink to discuss the impact he has had on the leadership teams he oversees, most recently taking the number of female leaders in the commercial team from zero to nine. 

We discussed this achievement in detail with Greg, and covered his thoughts on why gender misrepresentation still exists in the Life Sciences space, and how he worked to overcome this within his own team.

Alongside encouraging leaders to challenge their own unconscious biases, Greg attributes much of his success to a successful talent mapping program. While many organisations have processes in place to support this, the concept may be less familiar to those coming from a start-up or growing business environment. With this in mind, we put together the following white paper together with Greg to outline a suggested process to follow that can support the improvement of diversity structure of teams.  

Set Criteria

Begin by identifying high potential, promotable talent within your organisation. Consider the criteria for their development and share it with your team to give them clear and achievable guidelines for progression. 


Next, engage with the high potential talent to gain an understanding of their career aspirations for both the short and long-term. It is important to understand what your team’s goals look like for the next three to five years, then encourage them to project these goals out to the end of their career. Many people have not invested time to fully explore their possibilities, and so encouraging high-potential individuals to get thinking helps to solidify their career aspirations in their minds, thus making the goal more tangible and motivating. 


Align an individual’s goals and career options for the next one to three years with their progression in your team or organisation by advising them on the key skills, experiences, and exposure that they need to work on. For individuals in underrepresented groups, it can be difficult to picture how to move up the career ladder, as they may not have seen examples of this within the same demographic.

With this in mind, interaction with others who have experienced a similar career path will be extremely beneficial. For example, company sponsored ‘Leadership Summits’ for specific demographics can make a huge difference in inspiring your talent to reach their full potential.


The plan should be a formalisation of the Aligning step, including specific tasks with due dates and outlining any supporting activities or materials that will be required. The individual needs to understand their development is their responsibility, and the plan helps them to own it. At the same time, it is critical they know you are there to support them; regularly meet with the talent to review their progress and amend the plan when needed.

Coach & Mentor

Outside of the plan, provide the talent with regular meetings with yourself or another manager that will invest in their development. Set schedules and agendas with follow up items, ensuring this is a formal process rather than an ad-hoc ‘chat’.  

Anticipate any natural obstacles. For example, many new managers face anxiety regrading imposter syndrome, which can be particularly prevalent in minority groups. Sometimes individuals from these groups will question whether they received the promotion to ‘tick a diversity box’ rather than because they deserved it off their merit. Some of this can be alleviated with the early-stage engagement and aligning on career goals but mentoring gives an opportunity to directly address any remaining concerns and build self-confidence. 

Let them know that making errors are part of the learning process and there is nothing wrong with it and give them an outlet to discuss any concerns or worries that they have. 

Mentorship and coaching from one individual will eventually limit the talent’s growth. It is probable that the talent will need to engage with a professional coach, hired in confidence just for them. If this is not possible, give them access to other leaders from other verticals across the organisation. Most talent will pass when offered, so don’t offer. Assign.


When you have an open role that was not filled internally, or lacked diverse candidates, you need to understand why. You need to develop the programs and processes to sustainably build an inclusive culture and therefore a diverse talent funnel.

Points to consider:

• Do the individuals you manage and develop look like you?

• Do you call out the “one” in the room?

• Do you assume that a scribe would be a woman?

• Do you talk over female co-workers?

• Do you mispronounce names?

• Do you use nicknames for some individuals and not others?

• Do you talk about topics that may exclude female co-workers?

• Have you ever said, “I hope HR isn’t in the room…”?

Summary: Breaking the Cycle

Following a robust talent mapping plan without bias means that the most qualified person for the role will get the job, which means both the company and individual will have the most chance of success. This helps to overcome some of the key barriers to minorities progressing in the industry, such as bias, imposter syndrome, and lack of representation.

Diversity and inclusion go hand in hand. Unless you have a truly inclusive culture, it will be difficult to build an environment where minorities feel welcomed to apply to leadership roles and know that they will be treated equitably going through the process and even when they are in the position. 

You need to proactively watch for opportunities to include everyone while removing any barriers that may limit inclusion. Here are some key take-home tips for achieving this:

• Invest in the development of your diverse team

• Call on the silent few, rather than the first-to-speak dominant voices

• Develop a culture of trust and respect, where everyone feels safe to speak up; especially when sharing feedback on behaviours that made them or others feel excluded

• The leader sets the tone. When you become aware of when you acted in a non-inclusive way, share it with the team and tell them what you should have said or done instead

Creating a diverse and engaged team may not come naturally. It takes time and effort to fully explore every bias you hold and how they effect your behaviour. Every team member has the right to feel included and be comfortable enough to share their ideas and feelings. Create a culture that is demographically diverse and acts with trust, transparency, and respect. 

In Greg’s experience, creating a diverse culture attracts the most diverse talent and supports your retention of this top talent. This improves your ability to move quickly through change management initiatives and increases the creativity of new innovations, ensuring you are always one step ahead of your competition. 

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