This year International Women’s Day (#IWD) is promoting the theme #EachforEqual, highlighting the need for us each to take personal responsibility for our actions to create a more equal world collectively.
Figures compiled as part of The 2019 North East Fastest 50 reveal that the number of female directors on the boards of the fastest growing companies in the region have actually decreased over the past four years. The list included 27 female directors, representing just 15% of the total number of directors at our region’s fastest growing companies, down from 21% in 2017.
There are several reasons for this, including the historic under representation of female candidates, leading to there being insufficient women with the right skills available to select from.
Thankfully companies are waking up to the benefits diversity at board level brings, including different world views, skill sets and opinions, which all lead to a more rounded organisation and more balanced decision making.
Here, Ward Hadaway Partner, Gillian Chinhengo, an employment law specialist, reveals her top tips for creating a more diverse boardrooms:
- Give thought to what you would like your board to look like. This may require a shift in mindset. You don’t necessarily want everyone to have the same skills and attributes as each other. In many businesses, the customer base will be women or minority groups – without these groups represented on the board, how can you reflect your customer’s needs?
- Schemes specifically targeting women coming back into work after having children can be very successful. It’s often at this point in their career after they’ve had children, when women decide to step off the ladder and valuable experience and expertise is lost from businesses. How can you make it easier for women to stay on a trajectory to the top?
- This leads onto the introduction of flexible working practices to support career progression. Giving your workforce more flexibility nearly always leads to positive outcomes because employees feel more valued and willing to give back, in return for making the arrangement work.
- Make fast track arrangements for talented people – whoever they are. Positive discrimination is limited in practice, but there are things you can do to recognise and nurture the talent pool in your business and help them shine. And make sure your senior people – men and women – actively mentor those they see potential in for the future.
- Be more open with women in terms of their career progression. They’re not always forthcoming when speaking up about their career aspirations, so make sure you are pro-active in talking about and supporting their development, if it is warranted.