The official campaign for this year’s International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity.
I suspect that many will associate targeted initiatives like international women’s day, legislation regarding the gender pay gap and discrimination with the push for equal opportunities and equality, as opposed to equity – it certainly means something else in my line of work!
To contextualise this year’s focus on equity, one needs to recognise that each of us has different backgrounds and circumstances. Allocating the exact same resources and opportunities, whilst a step in the right direction, is still insufficient to reach an equal playing field as depicted in the image below.
From an organisational and leadership perspective, this means that while inclusivity policies and an accommodating environment in the workplace is the key to equality, to progress this further, equity-based solutions, which take into account the requirements of different individuals, must be considered. This can include steps like providing access to additional mentoring, education or study or broader networks.
In the boardroom
Aside from the fact it seems logical for a board’s diversity to reflect the audiences and stakeholders which the company seeks to serve, having diverse boards ensures a greater variety of skills, opinions and strategies, which ultimate in an important step towards better governance. Statistics from McKinsey & Company, show that companies in the top 25% for gender diversity in management positions were 21% more likely to generate above average profits.
In order to facilitate board diversity, there many considerations:
· Start with the younger generation; focus on increasing the female talent pool by providing mentorship, skills enhancement, role models and networking to encourage ambition and aspiration to reach board level.
· Don’t just consider this at a board level, factor in gender diversity across the whole corporation and various departments, so that it becomes part of the culture.
· Potential support for people who are juggling work and family life, ensuring that policies like such parental leave and flexible working hours are equitable.
· Consider the board holistically and realign the focus moving away from considering candidates in isolation to those who would bring complementing skills to those who are already on the board. The goal is to build a balanced and well-rounded board that collectively brings the skills, experience and ability to challenge required for a successful board.
· Encourage communication and facilitate open conversations about opportunities to grow, progress and expand individual roles.
We are fortunate in the Channel Islands to have a supportive community with many opportunities for women to come together in a professional capacity across all sectors and we have plenty to be proud of;
- The Women in Work Index* (analysis by PWC - an IoD NextGen Sponsors) scores Guernsey in 19th position and Jersey in 24th position out of 33 OECD countries. The index measures progress in women’s employment outcomes such as salary and participation rates.
- A recent survey by the Guernsey Association of Trustees (GAT)* found that more than 50% of trust and corporate service providers in Guernsey have two or more female senior managers and 42% had two or more female directors.
- Not forgetting our very own Next Gen Committee, which is 60% women
Through the IoD, the Next Gen Forum aims to provide a diverse and inclusive network for all individuals to help with their progression and aspiration to leadership and director roles; from providing opportunities to build networks; training and mentoring.
Here’s to supporting the women (all directors) of the future!
*All statistics are based on data from 2020 onwards.