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Published on: 11th December 2013
20th December 2013
Ursula Brennan’s plea that “women need more than mentoring”, at the recent Whitehall and Industry Group Gender Diversity Conference, is a reminder of the need for a range of initiatives to accelerate change in this area.
Initiatives and ideas will only take root and grow into fruitful outcomes if the context is supportive and there is leadership to drive change. In many organisations there is still the need to tackle mind-sets and behaviours, especially amongst men in positions of power.
The ways in which the potential contribution of women is judged by men is subtle and frequently outside awareness. Unless there is work to raise awareness of these subtle judgments and unconscious biases on the part of many men, and key male executives are willing to more openly lead this needed change, then we will continue to see very slow progress in this area.
Take a look at how we can help your organisation drive change to improve Gender Balance
Katie Jacobs , HR Magazine, 06 Dec 2013
To help promote top female talent, organisations need to “do more than mentor”, Ursula Brennan, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, said yesterday.
Speaking to HR magazine at the Whitehall and Industry Group (WIG) Gender Diversity Conference, Brennan said organisations needed to focus on the female talent pipeline and make sure high potentials are getting support, encouragement and help becoming more “visible”, for example by helping them into non-executive director roles.
“By the time you get to the selection process [for executive roles], it’s too late,” she said. “You have to go down a level or two. What are the choices women are making? What jobs will help them reach the top?”
She added that leaders need to “relentlessly police” flexible working policies to make sure they are being adhered to. “Make sure that throughout the organisation people recognise you care about flexible working and create a climate that makes that clear,” she said.
Brennan added diversity was a “real business benefit” for recruiting the best and brightest talent. “They don’t want to work in a mono-culture; they want to work in a lively, diverse environment,” she said.
Diversity is everyone’s responsibility
Representing the private sector, Amanda Mackenzie, chief marketing and communications officer at Aviva, told HR magazine that diversity is everyone’s responsibility, and what matters is “deeds not words”.
“You need leaders who are fiercely passionate about diversity,” she said.
She added that young women needed more than role models; they needed “blueprints” for how to succeed in their careers, showing them what “success might look like”.
Citing a statistic that companies with female leaders outperform those without, she said: “If you are in business, do not walk past that statistic. You are letting your shareholders down if you don’t do something about it.”
WIG is an independent charity that brings business, Government and the non-for-profit sector closer together.