work life balance

Where are professionals most likely to be promoted?

In our latest study, we asked 1,950 professionals if they had been promoted in the last five years. Results show that working for a large firm in a well-established industry is one of the best ways to obtain regular promotions. On the other hand, the very smallest companies appear to be much more conservative when it comes to promotions. Contrary to expectations, gender does not seem to impact promotion patterns.

Promotions by sector

Have you been promoted in the last 5 years?YesNo
Consulting & Professional Services68%32%
Retail & Trade67%33%
Construction, Real Estate, Architecture64%36%
Apps, Web, eCommerce62%38%
Consumer Goods60%40%
Manufacturing & Industrials59%41%
Financial Services58%42%
Transportation & Logistics56%44%
Technology & Telecoms55%45%
Services, Tourism, Restaurants54%46%
Energy, Mining, Chemicals, Environmental54%46%
Public sector & Education53%47%
Media, Communication53%47%
Pharmaceuticals & Biotech48%52%

Very few laggards. In every industry but pharmaceuticals & biotech, more than half of the employees have been promoted in the last five years.

A well-beaten path. Consultancies and insurance companies both have well-established career paths and promote their junior employees on a very regular basis (as many as 68% of consultancies' employees have been promoted in the last 5 years). The constant threat to see employees leaving for a corporate job is one of the reasons that lead to this fast career evolution, often used as an incentive when remuneration disappoints.

Promotions by company type

Have you been promoted in the last 5 years?YesNo
Public Sector46%54%
Charity & Not For Profit52%48%
Micro (1-10 employees)52%48%
Small (10-50 employees)61%39%
Medium (50-250 employees)59%41%
Large Private (250+ employees)56%44%
Large Listed (250+ employees)60%40%

Go small...but not too small. Companies with 10-50 employees are where career evolution is the fastest (61% of employees have been promoted in the last 5 years). This particular size is the perfect sweet-spot between micro companies, where there are so few employees that there is no room for promotion or a structured set of titles, and medium companies (50-250 employees) with more opportunities but also more competition and where the promotion system remains fuzzy.

...Or very big. Listed companies often use a well-oiled career path to motivate their employees, who can expect to be promoted on a regular and predictable basis (60% of employees from listed companies have been promoted in the last 5 years).

Promotions by gender

Have you been promoted in the last 5 years?YesNo

Happy surprise! Gender does not seem to impact promotion paths as our sample shows the exact same ratio of men and women having been promoted in the past 5 years.

Promotions by degree

Have you been promoted in the last 5 years?YesNo
No Degree45%55%

Studying will set you on a path to promotion. Professionals are 15% more likely to be promoted when holding a bachelor degree compared to those without a degree at all.

...Only up to a certain point. With only 2% more of Masters and MBA graduates versus bachelor degree holders, the benefits of two extra years spent studying (as well as costs incurred) appears very marginal. Even more ominous for PhD graduates who are promoted less frequently than those with only a bachelor degree, as many of them end up working in the public sector, where the track record for promotions is poor.

Titles aren't everything. With fresh practices in many digital businesses where "Guru" or "Top Lama" are labels used to define a role instead of seniority titles as a tongue-in-cheek approach to stuffy corporate culture, the impact is being drip-fed slowly into wider-ranging industries. More and more, professionals do not necessarily hanker for a particular title but actual on the job responsibilities such as managing a team or a set project, and being given more autonomy and increased pay. While a shiny new title is generally well-received, it is less likely to satisfy professionals compared to a generation ago where corporate labels were more static and also probably revered.


Emolument provides bonus and salary statistics based on data submitted directly by professionals like you. It is free, anonymous, and already a trusted tool for thousands of professionals worldwide. Are you paid enough? Click here to find out now.

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