Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. The IWD 2023 campaign theme seeks to forge worldwide understanding about why equal opportunities aren’t enough, and a focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA.
International Women’s Day belongs to everyone, everywhere. Collectively, we can all help create a diverse, equitable and inclusive world.
1. How can companies strive for more equitable talent attraction?
I think the first step is for organisations to recognise the benefits of what a diverse workforce brings to the organisation. This includes different approaches, different ways of problem-solving and, of course, being able to challenge the status quo. The organisation needs to make it clear in its brand through recruitment campaigns that they want to attract the best diverse talent. For women specifically, I think this is publishing employee case studies demonstrating equity in the workplace that can be used as part of the recruitment campaign. It should include employees from all levels in the organisation.
2. What does being an effective ally for women look like to you?
For me, my allyship with women means using my personal privilege to support women, be that personally and/or professionally. I do this by taking action that I feel promotes equality. A recent example was I was asked to speak on a conference panel on the subject of building diverse teams. I suggested to the organisers they needed a more gender-diverse panel. They wanted to charge a female potential panel member a fee to speak, whereas I was not being charged. I publicly called out the behaviour as unacceptable and removed myself from the panel. I will not take part in panels that are not diverse.
3. What is your top advice for making job descriptions more inclusive?
Unfortunately, research has shown that women tend to only apply for roles where they match 90+% of the role description. I think when writing job descriptions, we need to be very clear about the must-haves and desirables. Too many job descriptions list everything as “must haves”. Language is also really important, depending on the gender of the author or their preconceptions, the use of certain language and terms can result in a gender bias in the job description, thus putting women off from applying as they believe the role may be for males only.
4. International Women’s Day is also about celebrating women and their achievements. What woman/women inspire you?
There are many inspirational women that I know, but one person I would like to call out is Dame Lynne Owens – Deputy Commissioner Met Police, formally Director General NCA and Chief constable Surrey Police. I had the pleasure of working with Dame Owens when she was CC of Surrey Police. I spent a day shadowing her and learned so much from her leadership style. For me, what I learnt during my time working with her certainly made me a better leader and was instrumental in my career development.
5. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Unfortunately, in leadership, there is still an imbalance when it comes to gender sitting at the top table, it's getting better but there is still some way to go. I think some of this is down to many top companies not having female leadership. In fact, only seven companies in the FTSE100 have female CEO’s. I think this potentially creates a negative view that women cannot succeed in top jobs, which of course, is rubbish! We need more strong female leaders to come forward and speak out to demonstrate that you can be successful in top jobs.