Addressing the Shortfall of Women in LeadershipIn February 2016, the government appointed Sir Philip Hampton and the late Dame Helen Alexander to chair an independent review which focused on encouraging increased female representation on FTSE boards and women in senior executive positions. Targets were set and stretched and it was encouraging that last week’s 2019 Hampton-Alexander Review shows some positive progress.

Whilst the target set has not yet been fully achieved the data shows that significant movement has been made. FTSE 100 looks set to achieve the target 33% of Women on Boards by end of Dec 2020 and this year the FTSE 250 outperformed the FTSE 100 boards.

It is becoming increasingly rare now for all male boards, in fact many investors shun all male boards, however, the top jobs (CEO and Chair) appear to continue to be occupied by men. It is important therefore, that we continue to move forward and build upon the successes that have been made and that companies make them sustainable.

With over 10,000 companies now required to submit their gender pay data on an annual basis the spotlight will continue to shine on gender equality, but we should not lose sight of the importance of looking at all underrepresented groups and awareness and understanding of intersectionality plays such a key role.

There are some companies that still have a significant way to go but we should celebrate the changes and progress that has been made by organisations and offer support, motivation and inspiration to others to accelerate change. It’s important to showcase the stories of those women who have risen within an organisation so that they can inspire others, but equally we need to showcase the men who continue to be ambassadors and allies for others.

The next steps would be to ensure that this progress is embedded so that it becomes sustainable for the future.  Ensuring that there is a sufficient pipeline of talent including those from all underrepresented groups is essential but should not be seen as tokenism. The spotlight on gender is important but this success needs to be built upon in order to create an environment whereby everyone feels valued for their unique differences.

To ensure success we should be focused on creating opportunities for everyone and not focusing on initiatives that exclude others. Organisations need to really focus on creating an inclusive culture that creates a sense of belonging. When someone enters the workplace they should be celebrated for their value and contribution, not just how they ‘fit in’ or tick a box to achieve quotas. Companies will find that without placing the focus upon inclusion and making those people feel like they truly belong they will never be able to say they are truly diverse. There is also a need to fully integrate inclusion policies across their business strategy and make sure these are future-proofed.

In truth, there is no ‘quick fix’ and there is still much more to be done to create an inclusive culture, however we should acknowledge the progress that has been made. The annual review makes interesting reading with poor experiences of workplace culture but also lots of examples from leading companies that are leading by example. The review is a good benchmark each year and clearly shows that when we focus our attention then change can be made.

For further help you can access my Tribe5 Diversity & Inclusion ™ Methodology to build and embed diversity and inclusion in your workplace available in book form – ‘Closing the Gap – 5 Steps to creating an Inclusive Culture’ or a free online Scorecard, or you can join my Inclusion247 community where you can listen to my free Podcast.