Using Gender Diversity as a Lever for Operational Excellence, Global Growth, and Innovation

Ingersoll Rand
CLIENT:Ingersoll Rand, a Global 1000 company known for its diverse range of industrial technology and climate solutions
LOCATION:Headquartered in Davidson, NC
SIZE: 6,600 employees

Client Profile & Challenge

Ingersoll Rand is committed to adopting new strategies that drive improved operational excellence, innovation, and global growth. Senior leaders understood that for these strategies to succeed, it was necessary to broaden and strengthen the gender diversity of the company’s global team and champion corporate-culture changes.

The company operates in an engineering-driven industry traditionally dominated by men. While women were well-represented in Human Resources, Finance, Marketing, and other internally focused functions, they were severely underrepresented in the middle- and senior-management ranks that have profit-and-loss responsibility.

Due to the lack of advancement opportunities, women were more likely than their male counterparts to leave the company — further perpetuating their underrepresentation among senior leaders. The result was a renewed commitment by Ingersoll Rand’s executive team to develop and support women, and drive the following 4 learning objectives:

  1. Improve retention of women team members.
  2. Build an internal network of emerging women leaders.
  3. Strike a stronger gender-diversity balance.
  4. Further enhance business performance.

Ingersoll Rand asked the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) to help with 2 initiatives: Clarify barriers for women on their leadership journey and create a comprehensive Women’s Leadership Program.

Gender diversity driving innovation growth at Ingersoll Rand


CCL, drawing on its experience performing research and collaborating with leaders from different cultures and disciplines, interviewed 16 mid-level and senior executives from across Ingersoll Rand’s global operations. The following are among the key interview findings underlying the gender-diversity challenge:

  • Gender imbalance in critical decision-making positions was well recognized;
  • Outdated and implicit assumptions existed on whether women could be effective leaders;
  • Flexible work arrangements supporting employees with primary caregiving responsibilities were limited; and
  • Strong, informal networks among leaders were reinforced by traditional male interests and activities.

Ingersoll Rand partnered with CCL on the Women’s Leadership Program, which was designed for mid-level managers aspiring to senior leadership positions. The program empowers women to be responsible for their career development while addressing organizational and cultural challenges. Multi-disciplinary program features range from face-to-face training and self-assessment to experiential learning and personalized support:

Mentoring by senior leaders guides women in better understanding Ingersoll Rand’s business and challenges.

Customized training develops skills required by women to lead themselves, other team members, and the company.

360-degree feedback helps women understand their strengths and development needs, and compare strengths to valued company leadership qualities.

Action-learning projects assist women in applying new insights and skills to everyday job responsibilities and raise their visibility within the organization.

Individual coaching and personal-development planning ensure women approach their Ingersoll Rand career purposefully and are supported in reaching career goals.


A pre- and post-program assessment of skills, knowledge, and business impact was among the methods used to evaluate the Women’s Leadership Program.

Every data point revealed that the program met all learning objectives and yielded tangible business returns, with improved leadership capabilities for all participants. A notable 45% of participants have transferred program knowledge, skills, and behaviors to their jobs to a “significant degree,” with 31% sharing learnings with others — and infusing the company with program benefits. The impact has been so far-reaching that according to more than 50% of leaders, the program has delivered either “moderate” or “significant” positive results to the company.

Positive results went above and beyond professional development. In fact, they’ve had a sweeping effect on company culture as well as team size and diversity. With CCL’s support, Ingersoll Rand is not only achieving talent development and business goals. The company is also making a powerful — and enduring — difference in the lives of women leaders.

(% of participants)
say gender-diversity awareness has increased company-wide.
find greater visibility of women among top management.
report more women are under consideration for management positions.
agree there’s improved mentoring and sponsoring of women.

Participants were rated 22% higher in job performance and 18% higher in competency ratings. Also, the promotion rate for participants is 4 times the average rate for other managers.

Participants Say

“I learned a lot about ‘influencing’ techniques and skills, which is fundamental to meeting company goals and having employees feel they are an active part of the company.” 

“I will carry what I learned from the program with me in everything I do.” 

Partner With Us

We can work with you to develop a custom women’s leadership development program designed to equip women who are already proven leaders with the knowledge and skills needed to have a greater impact and broader influence within their organizations.

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