Without a strong focus on all areas and elements of diversity and inclusion (D&I), businesses will struggle to innovate and evolve alongside the working population. To celebrate International Women’s Day, we brought together a panel of inspiring female industry leaders who discussed their experiences and highlighted what more can be done to promote equality in the workplace.
Our keynote speakers were Sonia Meggie, Inclusion Advisor at Business in the Community, Rahma Javed, Director of Engineering at Deliveroo, and Michelle Hands, Construction Engineer and Land Surveyor. These three women have worked through adversity to gain authority and respect in industries that are typically male-dominated. Hosted by Sheri Hughes, PageGroup’s Diversity and Inclusion Director for the UK, we were delighted to host such an enlightening discussion and explore these topics with an engaged audience. Here are some of the highlights discussed during the conversation.
The importance of gender diversity in senior positions
A diverse board and senior management team positively impact businesses in terms of productivity, inclusivity, and business revenue. Considering this, our panel discussed how the lack of female leadership in the various industries that the speakers worked within has impacted their development as individuals.
“It is important to really sponsor and promote women and recognise their issues, and to discuss what steps will make the workplace a lot more inclusive. I think that will genuinely help because one of the reasons why I had a lack of ambition was because I never had any role models. I only saw white men as role models, and I thought ‘Well, I don’t fit that demographic.’” – Rahma
A lack of female leaders in senior positions means that women do not have the same sense of comradery and belonging as that of their male counterparts. Both male and female leaders need to have buy-in to encourage the growth and development of their employees, so they feel the confidence to grow as individuals. Once they do this, they will grow your business alongside them. Empowering strong women now will create strong and well-rounded leaders for the future.
There have been developments in this area over the last 10 years, but there is still more to be done. Business leaders must learn how colleagues, friends, and family can work together to encourage better diversity and equality in the workplace. Michelle confirmed this by saying: “We are realising the bigger global issue, and we have seen the power of how we can help elevate each other to the top.”
“There are super supportive men out there, and they are great to learn from. Men are our allies, and it is so powerful because we can’t do this on our own. We do need to support one another because we will be stronger together.” – Michelle
Gathering allies to boost gender equality
As our speakers made it very clear, gaining more equality in the workplace can not only be done by women. Men need to actively push this agenda forward. As business leaders or women campaigning for gender equality, it is important to speak to people across your business and the wider market to evoke change across organisations. “If you’re in a group for women and you’re talking about the issues, that’s great, but you’re preaching to the converted” Rahma said. In order to drive real change, men need to be included in these conversations. She continued to say: “If we’re not talking to men about the issues, then they aren’t going to recognise how they can be a part of the solution.”
It is also important for businesses to be driving the D&I agenda through performance-based tasks. On this, Sonia highlighted:
“A lot of men are saying that their bonus should be attached to diversity targets. They are ensuring that they are a part of their allies’ programmes, and there are different groups of men who are meeting to look at how they can be better allies. It is also about inviting men to the events and ensuring that men are aware of what we are doing […] we need to have the minority in the room with the majority because they are never going to know or understand what women are experiencing if they are never told.”
In order to highlight gender equality and what it can do for businesses, there needs to be broader conversations happening with everybody in the workplace involved. Until we are having open discussions and getting buy-in from across the entire business, women and minority groups may still face the same challenges.
At PageGroup, we understand how businesses may face challenges when trying to improve the diversity and inclusion within their organisation. We have faced such challenges and are beginning to overcome them to improve our business and the wellbeing of our employees. If you are interested in learning more about how you can boost the D&I in your business, visit our hub page to view our bank of informative content.
To view the full video of our Women in Business Virtual Event, click here.
If you are looking to hire top talent to your organisation, please get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants for a confidential discussion today.