Thursday, 15 August 2013

Act Now or Lose Women to Entrepreneurship

Today the CIPD announced in their press release that business had to Use top female talent or lose it.

"it is clear that if business does not adopt flexible or innovative working practices, it will continue to lose impressive women who decide to set up their own businesses to achieve a better work-life balance"

The CIPD also said that if there were as many female entrepreneurs as men the GDP could be boosted by 10% by 2030.  

The report discovered women were 
1. motivated by purpose not just wealth 
2. they prefer self finance over risk and debt 
3. their approach is more personal 
4. They have more self awareness 

Businesses certainly need to create environments that suit woman.  We also need environments that suit families.  That means this has to stop being about gender and more about working families.  Men are also brilliant in business and want to be part of the home life.  They too want work life flexibility.  We need to understand the gender strengths and needs. 

So how does this add to the debate: 

1. We need to help women be confident as business people - we need to start that from primary school and increase awareness around the language we use to our children and the language teachers use to their pupils 
2. We need to be aware of our innate unconscious bias 
3. We need to understand our limited beliefs around women's ability to be top business women and our overtly assumed beliefs that men are great at business and leading.  This mental shift will increase out awareness of what 'good' and 'great' looks like. 
4. While we examine these ideas yes we can talk in gender but the ultimate goal should be equality for all 

So this is not just a piece about business - it's also about our own personal mindset and there is so much we as individuals can do to change that. More women (and men) need the confidence to become business people whether it as a staff member (intrapreneur) or with their own business (entrepreneur). 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Embrace Diversity & Kick it Out

Last Thursday I went to The Work Foundation and Kick it Out event at 7 Bedford Row to discuss Diversity and Inclusion in Football. I was intrigued.  Being a Glaswegian where football often was a religious issue,  Inclusion,  Diversity and Football didn't seem to be natural companions. How things have progressed!

Prof Stephen Bevan of The Work Foundation  gave the amazing statistic that white able bodied men in full time work are a minority at 20%.  So we have to challenge our meaning of diversity.

Ideally diversity is respecting and allowing difference to flourish.  This is important to the bottom line as some of these statistics show:

In a Job Centre Survey about 56% of customers said they were more likely to use a business with more diversity.

When Lloyds TSB matched the community demographic they increased sales by 30%.

Sainsbury's increased customer retention, customer satisfaction and had a higher level of workforce engagement when they addressed their diversity.

Diversity is not about ticking boxes or quotas it's about embedding diversity into the culture therefore it has to come from the top.  We now know that Diversity makes Business sense and we increasingly have the data to prove it.

Professor MIke West said "Leadership is the key, as there is very little evidence that Diversity Training on it's own works".  When there is leadership approval the business has better recruitment, better appraisals, better training and better systems for decision making.

In Professor West's study in the NHS he discovered that we behave with less civility to people who are different from us.  So if we train our staff to be mindful of this, it will build awareness and change behaviour.  We may believe we prefer to spend time with people who are like us but all studies show that diverse teams are more productive, creative and innovative and more socially integrated.

Anne Hurst from PWC showed a video challenging our own perceptions.  She discussed the importance of diversity promoting innovation and creativity and the impact it has on the bottom line.  One innovation Anne shared with us was PWC sent weekly emails to the staff suggesting they do something different eg read a different newspaper, go to a different place for lunch or sit in a different part of the office.  Practical things that broaden our horizons and can then impact other areas of our consciousness.

One other innovation they delivered to potential recruits was "shadow a female leader".  They found they doubled the number recruits by doing that.

Andy Ambler from Millwall discussed the importance of using skills and including cultures off the pitch.   His commitment to the importance of diversity in staff at Millwall has really shifted my perception and I hope to take a family visit soon! With Heather Rabbatts, the first female NED of the FA coming from Millwall they have an interesting record in gender promotion.

Clive Tyldsley, ITVs Chief Football correspondent  identified that football is at the centre of most communities in the UK and therefore the people that run it need to reflect that.   "We have a distorted sense of normal; we have a new normal"

After the panel there was a lively debate and a challenge from the floor about the lack of black coaches in football.  When West Ham Chief, David Gold admitted he'd never interviewed a black coach or had any applications from a black coach;  Lord Herman Ouseley, Chair of Kick it Out asked "where are these jobs advertised?" More may need to be done.

It's great to see companies actively engage in this important area.  It's no wonder because the evidence is consistently showing companies that take this seriously: increase their profits, increase customer retention, improve creativity and innovation as well as improving staff retention. A pretty compelling argument.