International Women’s Day: Embracing equity in the workplace
By Nicky Hall, Head of Marketing at Directorbank Executive Search
Today is International Women’s Day and the theme is #Embrace Equity, a powerful reminder that each and every one of us is responsible for driving gender parity.
As a female member of Directorbank’s leadership team, and a mother of two young children, this is something I feel strongly about.
I want my kids to grow up with opportunity, in a world that’s inclusive and fair. When they begin a career, they should be able to pursue something they feel passionate about. And if they choose to have a family of their own, they shouldn’t feel compromised, ‘stuck in a rut’ or guilty. They should have the opportunity to perform at their very best, to gain confidence, to pursue success. That opportunity should extend to everyone, regardless of gender.
In the business world, at Board level, the value of female representation is well documented, backed up by hard research. Companies with diverse leadership teams perform better financially and are better equipped to understand and respond to the needs of their employees and consumers.
A diverse leadership team brings different perspectives and experiences to the table, adds depth and creativity to discussions, and delivers smarter outcomes. It serves to educate and inspire others: a visible demonstration that women can, and do, contribute real value to the bottom line.
But in reality there is much progress to be made. Within the FTSE 250 there are just 47 female-held executive directorships (12.1%). In the mid-market, women in key executive roles are also greatly underrepresented.
As executive search specialists working across the mid-market, we can see that strides have been made. Company boards are placing greater emphasis on gender parity, and we are increasingly being asked to provide diverse, inclusive candidate shortlists. With a still comparably more limited pool of female candidates with proven Board-level experience, and a company network still largely dominated by men, we have become more creative and open with our search processes in order to widen the talent horizon and pinpoint individuals with the right skill-set to do the job well.
Gender equality is not something that can be fixed quickly. It requires collective effort, a change in mind-set, a re-evaluation of company culture, and a conscious drive to break down systemic barriers from the top down and the bottom up.
Businesses need to work harder to attract and engage women and support them into positions of leadership. And this drive goes beyond recruitment. It requires a re-evaluation of professional development initiatives, mentoring opportunities, company values and working practices. There needs to be a move from ‘supporting the collective’ to ‘supporting the individual’ so that ALL employees feel encouraged and empowered to thrive.
As a Directorbank employee, I am very proud to say that 50% of my colleagues are female including our German team and our Heads of Research, Finance and Events. We were all hired because we were the best candidates for the job, we all work extremely hard, and we take pride in delivering value for our team and clients.
In return we get to work for a business that places a great deal of emphasis on work/life balance through flexible, tech-enabled working practices and strong communication. A leadership team that understands the pressures that young families or sick elders can bring and, above all, a business with an overriding culture of trust and respect.
Directorbank has evolved and modernised, and it works. Performance is strong and we seem to have achieved a balance that works for all.