Maximising the contribution of women to business and public life

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Maximising the contribution of women to business and public life

Barclays sponsored, Business meets parliament breakfast.

On Wednesday 25th of February, Christine de Largy, Managing Director of Impact Executives and Chair UK Board Practice for Harvey Nash Group plc, attended the Barclays sponsored Business meets parliament breakfast at the House of Commons.

Celebrating international women’s day coming up on Sunday 08th March 2015, speakers on the day included Antony Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer, Barclays, The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary of State for Education, Minister for Women and Equalities, Dame Julia Cleverdon DCVO, CBE, Vice President of Business in the Community and Mary Macleod MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Parliament.

Anthony Jenkins group CEO Barclays discussed the business case for diversity as a commercial imperative and the need to reflect the diversity of customers. More and more there is a need for access to the best global talent with clear evidence that diversified teams perform better.

There has been movement from bias where women were deemed not as strong as men but still an unconscious bias remains prevalent. Women are often described as having sharp elbows but have the same qualities men with delivering and capability.

Supporting women entrepreneurs around the world must be a priority e.g. Businesses set up by women in Africa tend to be more successful than other areas of the world.

We need a long term outlook – where do you we go from here? The key issue at the forefront of minds is being unhappy with 30% but true representation in line with populations.

The right honourable Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary of State for education spoke on how more businesses are led by women today making £82bn worth of contribution to the economy. Also pointing out huge progress from days of old with every FTSE currently having at least one woman on the board.

The Women’s Business Council has helped the government take forward legislation to help women. The Supporting Your Life campaign encourages girls to study STEM subjects. (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) hopefully promoting careers which historically have lacked a female presence.

Dame Julie Cleverdon DCVO CBE vice president of business in the community spoke about the real sense of rage and the opposing sense of pride with diversifying the workplace.

Julie was part of the set-up of ‘Opportunity 2000’ in 1991. Thinking 9 years would be enough to achieve a balance of genders at all levels of employment and encourage organisations to set their own targets for increasing women’s participation, 24 years later the battle is not over. The campaign proved the business case and McKinsey identified that mixed boards performed 15% above the rest. Nowadays we all know it makes good business sense.

Still, ‘Sticky floors’, low aspirations and lack of confidence have to be dealt with. A recent survey of women aged 25-45 found that 43% don’t feel they are treated fairly in progression. Pulling back in to Anthony Jenkins point, the education of teenage girls is essential.

With only 6% of executive directors in FTSE now Women, the pink parachute into the board is not enough. We need to invest in middle level managers – There is not enough appetite to build flexibility into roles. This should be part of how we do business. Every chairman should mentor two women and every maternity ‘leaver’ should have exit interviews. We must be passionate and adamant that in 15 years, we will have got there.

About Impact Executives Ltd Impact Executives is a leading interim management provider to organisations of every size in the UK and globally. Originally formed as a specialist practice within PA Consulting Group, over the past 25 years Impact Executives has helped over 2000 companies, including more than two-thirds of the FTSE 250 – find the very best executive interim management talent. Clients choose to work in partnership with Impact Executives because of our proven ability to offer clients immediate solutions to improve their organisation’s performance.

With offices covering the UK, continental Europe, Nordics, Asia Pacific and Australia, Impact Executives is part of the global services consultancy Harvey Nash Group plc, giving clients and interim managers the confidence that we have the resources, expertise and focus to deliver results – fast.

For further information on Impact Executives, please contact Steffany Young, Impact Executives, Tel: 0044 20 7314 2011 Email: