Persistence leads to parity

This International Women’s Day, this Year of the Woman 2018, let’s celebrate the real and positive evolution towards parity that is happening all around us – in business, in sport, in film, in life.

The pace of change in the 100 years since some women were given the right to vote has been steady. ‘Nevertheless, she persisted.’

A straw poll on what International Women’s Day means to the Women Ahead and Moving Ahead team had these words bouncing around the room – ‘awareness’, ‘data’, ‘change’, opportunity’, ‘empowerment’, ‘inclusion’, impact’, ‘inspiration’. That range demonstrates the huge scope of the day – it’s a moment for everyone as individuals to take stock, to see how far we have come, how far we have to go, and to realise the great opportunities a more equal society would offer both men and women.

The 30% Club is making great strides towards parity, through sustained pressure and a clear common goal. There are now 28.4% women on FTSE-100 boards, and 34 FTSE-100 CEOs have signed up to achieve 30% women on boards by 2020. Another target the 30% Club is pushing for is 30% women at senior management level of FTSE-100 companies by 2020 (currently women make up 25.2% at FTSE 100 ExCo + direct report levels). There’s a note of caution too, though, with a backwards drift to just 4% female FTSE-350 CEOs currently in position.

Gender pay gap reporting is transforming the workplace. What gets measured, gets done – 60% of CBI members are making changes as a result of their initial results. It’s worth remembering that the legislative push behind this drive has been needed to make this change.

Let’s make this a collective journey. Men are also confined by the patriarchy and a more fluid world would give them many more life choices and paths to follow. The dominant group in any organisation needs to understand the benefits of a revolution for it to occur. Our speaker Dr Michael Kimmel is leading this charge, alongside pioneering Michael Cole-Fontayne, winner of our Inspirational Mentor of the Year award.

We’re seeing an overarching drive for inclusion across business and sport – not just with a gender focus – and it is revolutionising our attitudes to work. Truly connected cultures that optimise the ideas, perspectives and approaches of diverse individuals and teams are being recognised as the best way forward for everyone – for individual wellbeing and for business creativity, performance, retention of talent and results.

So, let’s keep up the pace – let’s ‘persist’ – and grasp the opportunities that inclusion gives men and women. Together, through connection, we can all thrive.

And finally…. We have noticed that there is so much interconnected but disparate IWD activity today, in workplaces across the world – our cogs are whirring and we are dreaming big to create cross-company, cross-border event to celebrate IWD 2019! Watch this space!

-        Liz Dimmock, CEO and Founder of Women Ahead and Moving Ahead, and 30% Club Steering Committee member


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