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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Tackling Gender Diversity in the Boardroom, London, UK, December 2010
Article Type: Event reviews From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 10, Issue 3
At the end of 2010, Intouch Consulting held an interesting and engaging seminar on “Tackling Gender Diversity in the Boardroom.” The guest speaker was Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Services Skills Council in the UK, clearly a very successful woman herself and a great role model to kick-off proceedings with an insightful presentation on why gender diversity matters. She presented a range of research-based arguments that together made a compelling case for giving women greater access to the boardroom.
The second speaker was John Hunter, a director of Intouch, who explained a number of the barriers that women face in organizations. However, he was keen to stress that the barriers are not placed there just by men and, indeed, many men suffer from the same cultural, organizational and stereotypical issues.
The second half of the seminar, facilitated by Jean Crawford and Terry Russell of Intouch, enabled the audience to participate fully in looking for solutions by sharing ideas and exchanging experiences. The session enabled everyone in the room to benefit by learning from everybody else, before providing an opportunity for each individual to reflect on what they had learned and on what action they would take as a result.
Discussions result in practical solutions
It was clear throughout the morning that there is not a single answer to the issue; there is no “silver bullet.” But rather than being deterred, the seminar participants appeared motivated to make a difference and excited by the opportunity to create a number of smaller changes that would add up to significant improvements overall. Practical ideas that emerged included:
Specialist development programs for women.
Setting up early career networks.
Inviting successful women as speakers to provide role models where none exist internally.
Measuring performance based on objective assessment of outputs (thus allowing more flexible working and for less attention to be paid to hours worked).
The importance of engaging men in the organization was also recognized, together with the value of running programs for both men and women that raise awareness of gender stereotypes and their impact. For a number of participants a key “learning” was that this is not just an issue of gender but of recognizing and valuing a broader range of leadership qualities and styles that exist in both sexes.
Another key insight was that although the HR function has a central role in tackling the issue, real progress comes from engaging existing board members and winning their genuine commitment to improving prospects for women.
Terry RussellDirector at Intouch Consulting.
For more information
Intouch has uploaded the presentations, research references and some of the output from the discussions to its web site, www.intouchconsulting.co.uk Owing to the level of interest, Intouch is considering running a second seminar on the subject in the first half of 2011. Anybody interested in attending should contact Intouch directly.