You are currently reading Issue 28, April 2015

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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No April fool – Fiona Tatton, Womanthology Editor

Fiona Tatton - Womanthology Founder and Editor
Fiona Tatton

I pity the (April) fool. Quit your jibba jabba…

Hello and welcome to issue 28. So we’ve got a new edition out that happens to coincide with April Fool’s Day. Nooo! What is the best way for a self-respecting editor to face up to this journalistic make or break moment for the first time? Cue lots of crazy newspaper stories about new EU legislation (more on that later) or faux government plans to ban the humble selfie, or dogs that like to wear lipstick.

I’m taking a different approach to the whole concept of tomfoolery which involves the Mr T from the A-Team model: “The jibba jabba stops here! (I pity the fool.)” I’ve decided that from now on I’m investing all my energy into the people who don’t have any jibba jabba. From Mr T to Ms T.

Women on boards – where are we now?

So I’ve been out and about in the world and I’ve got lots to share. The highlight of my fortnight has to be my visit to Barclays HQ at Canary Wharf in London for the launch of the Davies Review Annual Report 2015 and The Female FTSE Board Report 2015 produced by the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders last Wednesday, 25th March.

You can read all about Vince Cable’s verdict on the progress made since 2011 here. I was able to grab a few minutes chat to him about the report. Not something I was expecting. He was very honest in what he said. He acknowledged that progress has been made, but there’s still an enormous amount to do.

12.5% to 23.5%

The FTSE 100 and to a lesser extent the FTSE 250 have made great progress under the watchful eye of Lord Davies to the point where representation on FTSE 100 boards now stands at 23.5% and representation on FTSE 250 boards is at 18%. (To put the figures in context, the FTSE 100 figure is up from 12.5% in 2011, so this is undoubtedly progress – it means that another 17 women need to be appointed to reach the 25% target before the end of 2015.)

It was noted however that the majority of the gains were made at non-executive director level rather than executive directors, which stand at only 8.6% for the FTSE 100. FTSE 100 female board chairs are at three, which needs to increase dramatically, however, all progress is welcome and we need to make sure that the next government will maintain the momentum – another reason to take an interest in the general election. Why not try asking your local parliamentary candidates about their position on gender balance in the workplace and see what reaction you get?

Upping the ante – 33% or 40%?

Vince Cable is looking for a third of top company boards to be made up of women by the end of the decade, but Dianah Worman of the CIPD suggests that 40% is a better target, including a 20% figure for the composition of executive board appointments. She rightfully points out that the threat of legislation across the European Union to make the achievement of 40% gender balance remains on the horizon.

No self-respecting FTSE company wants to be left behind as crowds of their brightest female talent stampede out of the door…

To the naysayers I’d say that gender balance is obviously nowhere near where it need to be, but what I am seeing is a growing acceptance that the status quo must be challenged. Surely the best way to do this though is to bring people along and get them bought into the business imperative for change? No self-respecting FTSE company wants to be left behind as crowds of their brightest female talent stampede out of the door, or worse still for a large corporate to be rejected by the all-powerful up and coming female Millennial who simply says “no”.

Female attrition – led by “an accumulation of micro disappointments”

It’s a gross over-simplification of the issue of women’s career progression in large organisations to put it all down to the motherhood penalty. Women I speak to leave organisations for a multitude of reasons. My all-time favourite description for the reasons female attrition comes from an excellent article that Carolanne Minashi of Citi wrote for us last year. “Female attrition seems to be led by an accumulation of micro disappointments.” I can’t think of an expression that sums it up better.

Female entrepreneurs creating something incredible on their own terms

A huge number of the brightest and best female entrepreneurs I speak to have chosen to take their life skills and experience and make these work for them. In this edition, Penny Power talks about how, “…Last year there were 371,000 more self-employed women than in 2009; the numbers are increasing at around three times the rate of men…” What could be more empowering and satisfying for a woman than having an idea, gathering together the necessary resources, building a strong team and combining all these things together to create something incredible on her own terms?

Less tolerant of wasting a day on something that doesn’t make our soul sing

The corporate world has a lot to compete with. In my experience, women who step out of corporate life do so for a number of complex reasons, not least tiring of corporate jibba jabba. They also have a strong desire to make more of an impact. The older we get, the less tolerant we become of wasting a day of our lives doing something that doesn’t make our souls sing. The best corporates work hard to understand that all important sense of connection and purpose that is so important to retaining the best staff, both male and female.

Diversity is diverse

As an endnote, I have to say that Lord Davies was not at all what I expected. I had been anticipating someone altogether more staid and down to earth, but what we actually got was a colourful character who I have great respect for. I had no idea he hangs around with Usher in his spare time however, and he has perfected the ‘running man’ move. It just goes to show that diversity is diverse. I can feel an unconscious bias course coming on…


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