Jessica Chivers, The Talent Keeper Specialists founder and managing director, asks men to shake their tambourines for women in their workplaces. Remaining silent makes them part of the problem she says.
I’m preparing to give a joint keynote with Dianah Worman of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development at a conference next month and the title we’ve been given is ‘breaking through the glass ceiling.’ Invitations such as these give me the opportunity to put the reading of related research papers and digging around for best practice exemplars,at the top of my professional to-do list.
I have a folder in Outlook labelled ‘inspirational goodies’ where I tuck away e-mails from Twitter, Harvard Business Review, the Guardian Women in Leadership team and others to read when I have a spare few minutes. One such e-mail took me to Chris Blackhurst’s piece (3 minutes reading time) in the Evening Standard this week about how women need real power in British businesses, not just Non Executive Directorships (which is how we’re almost at Lord Davies’ 25% soft target for the number of women on boards of British companies). He’s completely right and it’s great to have a man bang the drum on this – to play a part in raising awareness and moving other men’s minds. I wonder if he’s signed up to the United Nation’s HeForShe campaign? Incidentally Iceland is leading the way and the UK is trailing far behind when it comes to men’s support for women by the measure of how many men have pledged support to this movement fronted by Emma Watson.
Did you know we have just five (six at a fudge) female Chief Executive Officers in the FTSE 100? They are: Liv Garfield (Severn Trent); Carolyn McCall (Easyjet); Alison Cooper (Imperial Tobacco); Moya Greene (Royal Mail) and Veronique Laury (Kingfisher). Alison Brittain will be joining Whitbread next year from Lloyds.
I’m making men the main thrust of my part of the keynote because it’s vital they’re lifting their tambourines and tickling their triangles for the women they work with (lest drum banging sound too militant). Men are key to women getting on and the latest bit of evidence comes from Columbia Business School research which finds that ‘Queen Bee syndrome’ is a myth. It’s men, not women who block access to the boardroom when one woman has ‘made it.’
Men need to make an active decision to be part of the solution and shape inclusive, balanced workforces. Keeping quiet is nolonger good enough and indeed is part of the problem. So pick up your instrument and join the movement.
In July I’ll publish my address to the delegates at the Coaching at Work conference. In the meantime, you might enjoy our ‘Talent Fueller’ interview series – Tim Yendell (Royal Bank of Scotland) and Steve Lake (Carillion) in particular.
** Page update 7/7/15 – link to extract of keynote speech ‘Managers & Men‘ **