On Monday the chair of Sport Wales, Professor Laura McAllister told an audience of business directors that it is up to all of those in leadership positions to encourage more women to go for top jobs.
She was speaking at a United Nations International Women’s Day lunch hosted by the Institute of Directors (IoD) (source: walesonline)
I would echo her call that it is indeed up to people who are at the higher echelons of business and other organisations to encourage women to reach high positions in their companies.
The shocking statistic is that Britain for all its ground-breaking work in equality legislation that we are 18th in the latest rankings for gender equality ranking well below some African countries. In addition, many top companies have a very low representation of females in non-executive roles. In the FTSE it is only 24% while in the next 150 companies this figure is even lower.
Professor McAllister doesn’t just say that this situation must change. She also points out the many benefits of diversity such as improving a company’s corporate profile and the clear evidence that productivity increases. She proves this by citing the Kinsey Report.
She is of course speaking from a position of authority as being a former Wales international footballer she should know a thing or two about what makes a successful team and has obviously appreciated the benefits of diversity that her former teammates brought.
I was very heartened to read that from April the board of Sport Wales will be 55% female and 45% male. This is in stark contrast to previously when it was predominantly made up of males. This hasn’t happened overnight; in fact, Sport Wales set out a clear strategy to create greater diversity on their board. I will certainly be watching with interest to see how things develop with Sport Wales over the next few years.
I firmly believe that proactive steps need to be taken to ensure greater diversity and going forward we will then reap the benefits of diversity across all organisations. One of the positive changes that could take place is to establish firm criteria for encouraging not just women but members of all sections of society to aspire in their chosen profession.
This may need particular targeting towards members of a specific group who are currently underrepresented. So that those people believe that they are able to enter and progress in their chosen career.
One of the most positive initiatives I have come across was in a particular company which ran a ‘Rising Stars’ scheme. The basis of this was that managers within the company were given particular training on recognising positive traits and potential that their employees had. Once the ‘Rising Star’ was identified, they were given specific mentoring, for both their current role and looking towards progression through the company.
One particular lady that I worked with was identified very early on by her manager as a potential ‘Rising Star’. She was then provided with one to one mentoring by a more senior member of staff and her career blossomed. She went from working in the warehouse, being rapidly promoted through the ranks to her current position as transport analyst.
This is just one example of a positive scheme which can have a lasting effect and show the benefits of diversity in the workforce and at all levels in an organisation.