Developing Women Leaders

09 March 2018

A spirited debate explored the progress which has been achieved in workplace gender balance in the 100 years since the start of women’s suffrage in the UK.

Ninety-five aspiring and experienced managers from the region took part in the event organised by Bournemouth University and CMI Southern.

Jo Strain, from the CMI Southern Board, said: “This event recognised that while much has been achieved, there is much more to be done before all managers and leaders are treated equally.”

The panel discussion led by Deborah Taylor featured:

  • Liz Finney – General Manager AFC Bournemouth
  • Angela Piromali – Managing Director, Rock Recruitment and The Rock Awards
  • Sarah Ali Choudhury – Celebrity Chef and Ambassador for the UK Nepal Friendship Society and Child Nepal
  • Helen Walbey – Managing Director of Recycle Scooters and Chair for Diversity and Health for the Federation for Small Businesses

Students had prepared questions for the panel based on CMI’s latest Blueprint for Balance: Broken Windows research which identifies common challenges women are facing daily and provides actions on creating and maintaining gender diversity in the workplace.

“Some students shared their dismay at the behaviours women are experiencing in the workplace today,” added Jo. “Participants and panellists enjoyed a spirited discussion which reflected the wide range of challenges, experiences, solutions and viewpoints of the panellists and audience.”

The common themes were:

  • a desire to offer equal opportunity for everyone
  • to get to a position where everyone has equal choices by, for example, tackling unconscious bias
  • improving parental leave rights for fathers
  • making flexible work options available as standard
  • providing better options for mid-life career changers and returners
  • the importance of everyone challenging and calling out unacceptable behaviours
  • supporting and championing others

Jo reported: “Recruiting men and women as agents of change was seen as key to accelerating progress. The consensus was that the keys to changing behaviours and organisational culture were to make equal opportunity part of the leadership agenda, demonstrate commitment and positive behaviours from the top, and to regularly track progress.”

CMIWomen initiative – this is one of a number of CMI programmes to encourage fairness and equality of opportunity in management and leadership, offers research and resources to enable individuals and organisations to change the status quo.

CMI’s Blueprint for Balance resources – provide practical support to improve diversity in the workplace.

CMI’s Gender Inequality report – this is a how-to guide which shines a light on examples of “Broken Windows” behaviour – whether it is describing women as “bossy” or interrupting women in meetings – comedienne Stevie Martin and actor Thom Tuck bring gender stereotypes to life by acting out discriminatory behaviour in the workplace. Watch it once to see the overt behaviours and then again to spot all the subtle behaviours which undermine Thom’s confidence and authority.

Jo added: “Do share the resources above with your friends and colleagues, and email your feedback and ideas for improving diversity at work.”

More CMI Southern blogs on supporting women managers and leaders and the CMI Women initiative

Report of the IWD 2018 event on Bournemouth University’s website

Video from the event (YouTube)