On International Women’s Day, I wanted to reflect a little on the 2019 campaign theme, #BalanceForBetter, and also talk about some of the wider business questions around supporting, developing and retaining female talent in the workplace.
It’s a subject that’s in the news pretty much every day and the figures don’t paint a pretty picture! There are only seven women CEOs in the FTSE-100 and we know from published reports that women are under-represented at board level. Then there is the whole equal pay conversation (let’s not go there!)
While initiatives such as IWD are doing a great job in bringing much-needed attention to these problems, it’s clear, as borne out by the stats, that much more needs to be done in terms of creating a level playing field to allow women to truly fulfil their career aspirations. In this day and age, losing top talent because, for example, family circumstances change, is frankly inexcusable.
If I look around me now, it’s incredible to see that there are so many more women in the office compared to say when I started at Roc six and half a years ago. You have to bear in mind that I work in recruitment, which has always been traditionally male dominated. So to some extent that balance is being redressed, which is great to see. And we’re fortunate to have some amazing female leaders and role models who set such a great example for younger women.
What I’ve realised is that having a diverse and inclusive environment is fundamental to changing the status quo. But, as with any sustainable change, it must come from the top, and be part of the company’s culture. There is no skirting around the issue. Everyone must feel that they can talk to others and share experiences. That’s why, for example, we have a quarterly lunch or after work drinks with all the girls in the office. It might seem like a trivial thing, but it’s so important.
As a working mum, I know how hard it can be to juggle work and family, and how important it is to have the full backing of your employer. There’s nothing more stressful than worrying about balancing being a mum and a career. I had to make some changes if I wanted to achieve my career goals, and fortunately, I’ve been allowed to work more flexibly so that I can manage my diary, as I just couldn’t have committed to a five-day week.
#BalanceForBetter isn’t just about improving numbers and box ticking, it’s about allowing women to continue their journeys with no limitations or holdbacks. Why wouldn’t you want to accommodate hard-working, trustworthy people who have proven themselves to be an asset to your organisation?
Ultimately, everyone should be judged on merit and have the same opportunities to progress.