You are currently reading Issue 90: Womanthology Thought Leaders, November 2017

Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

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We can do it! Raising the bar and picking up the pace on progress towards gender balance in the workplace – Claire McCartney and Dianah Worman, Co-directors of Inclusive Talent


Claire McCartney and Dianah Worman are Co-directors of Inclusive Talent – a diversity and talent management research, consultancy and facilitation organisation. They are also research and policy associates of the CIPD.

Claire McCartney and Dianah Worman - CIPDClaire McCartney and Dianah Worman - CIPD
Claire McCartney and Dianah Worman

Claire and Dianah were facilitators at our Diversity Thought Leaders’ event at Warwick Business School in The Shard on 20th November 2017. They led group discussions and collated ideas from delegates. 

What we do

At Inclusive Talent, our aim is to help organisations to improve their approaches to recruiting, retaining rewarding and developing diverse talent. We help organisations to see how this makes business sense, how to make it a business issue, how to track the difference it makes to business performance, how to keep up to speed with business competitors and how to become a place where everyone wants to work.

Collaborating with Womanthology

We enjoy collaborating with Womanthology because it has a unique approach to communicating exciting stories and achievements about women’s employment, what they can achieve, how they do it, what they have deal to be successful and how they overcome problems that get in the way.

The personal stories show how being resilient, getting on with getting to where you want to be and giving as good as you get is how you do it. The #IDidItAnyway campaign is a brilliant concept to illustrate how being focused and determined helps women to achieve their goals. It gathers and shares personal testimonies showing how real women get on and get ahead.

Womanthology Diversity Thought Leaders event - Warwick Business School
© Liz Drake Photography

What attracted us to the inaugural Diversity Thought Leaders’ event on 20th November at Warwick Business School in the Shard was not just the glamorous building with its dramatic views of the London skyline (amazing though it was) but the purposeful programme.

Provoking progressive thinking

This was designed to provoke progressive thinking in business about practical ways of stimulating fair and inclusive gender employment such as applying nudge approaches in smart ways to shape policy design and business practices.

It included a private sector case study from Arnold Clark showing how to attract women into the traditionally male-dominated automotive sector as a business imperative by doing new and different things to tackle male stereotyping and get a better gender-balanced workforce.

A thoughtful panel discussion followed. This was designed to highlight how other approaches to business practices could help to pace up change. For example, focusing on supply chain management and using business focused metrics can evidence the added value women bring to business performance and outstrip that delivered by men alone. The examples showed how progressing diversity and inclusion needs to be a systemic approach to change and not limited to a portfolio of initiatives

Progress towards gender balanced workforces – bring it on!

© Liz Drake Photography

In our view taking nudge theory into account to influence workplace behaviours and working practices regarding gender-balanced workforces exposes missed opportunities to raise the bar on progress. Bring it on. But the evidence shows success will be dependent on customised approaches taking into account organisational objectives and ways of working.

There is clearly a recognised urgency for organisations to get better at attracting women and helping them to progress and this is not seen to be just about being in the vanguard of good practice. It is acknowledged that existing good practice doesn’t go far enough. We need to find out more about why this is the case.

Let’s incentivise people as well as chastise them regarding gender and fairness

This is where research will help. There is an appetite to evolve good practice and be novel about ways of doing this. Consensus is that more attention needs to be given to human behaviours to develop interventions that incentivise people as well as chastise them regarding gender and fairness.

Doing this will help to stimulate the pace of positive change. Importantly, business data needs to be taken into account to surface patterns and issues that show additional explicit reasons for considering and responding to gender issues in business.

Smarter interventions needed to support progress – time to go beyond the status quo

We were delighted to facilitate the group discussions to see what delegates thought would be things that could be given attention to raise the bar on improving the gender balance of workforces. The main themes that emerged were that law was not enough. There are good business reasons for paying attention to the agenda as a way of improving competitiveness but there needed to be smarter interventions to support progress.

Womanthology Diversity Thought Leaders event
© Liz Drake Photography

The quality of leadership for change on this agenda came top of energised discussion. Currently leadership on diversity and inclusion is seen as being rooted in maintaining the status quo by fixing the women rather than allowing women to be themselves. This is not seen as the right way forward because it stops women from being authentic.

Let’s be courageous enough to do something different

The benefits of diversity are seen as vital to stimulate creativity and innovation in business but many of the interventions adopted to help women to progress women stopped this from happening. There was agreement that it’s time to take stock of good practice to see what its real impact is and to be courageous enough to do something different to get the hidden benefits of gender diversity which might be being missed.

There was also discussion about the importance of tackling gender stereotypes in professions and ensuring that recruitment, job profiles and promotion opportunities are gender neutral and focus on the skills necessary to do the job. People felt that it was time to go beyond the use of role models and to encourage ambassadors across industries to champion change and influence policy in relation to gender balance and equality.

The high energy levels of collaborative open-minded group discussions throughout the evening were stimulating for us. Clearly opportunities to network and share thoughts, ideas and experiences are valued. Networking in itself will help to generate learning and confidence and stimulate progress.

A shake up is needed to raise the bar on diversity progress

We very much look forward to taking part in future events at which game-changers come together to help future-proof good practice fit for the 21st century. As was pointed out: “If we carry on doing what we have always done, we will get what we’ve always got.” That is rooted in the past and needs a shake-up.

Womanthology Diversity Thought Leaders event
© Liz Drake Photography

What we took away from a great evening was the value of well-designed focus group discussions, capturing what emerges and communicating messages to others to think about, comment on, try out and report back on so we can form an authoritative thought leadership group to recommend evidenced practical ways to excite others about how to raise the bar on diversity progress.

Moving forward together

The inaugural Womanthology Diversity Thought Leaders’ Event was a great success held at a great place, with great people who had great ideas, and we were proud to be involved. We look forward to taking part in the next event and sharing what we hope to learn from our involvement in two current international initiatives.

One is an important international diversity and inclusion study being driven by the OECD and the Dauphine University in Paris, which will deliver comparative data and the other the progress of diversity and inclusion in the Isle of Man where the jurisdiction has introduced equality legislation for the first time this year.


Diversity Thought Leaders issue

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