This year’s theme for IWD19 is “Balance for Better” the background behind the theme is that the world now expects balance, notices it’s absence and celebrates its presence and that balance drives a better working world.
It’s right that we should celebrate changes that are happening in terms of legislation, awareness and changes in attitudes towards women in the workplace. In our experience, there is still lots to be done, by that we don’t mean talking about it or announcing an initiative that ticks a box but actual, measurable, real change.
Balance is something that is hard to achieve in all its definitions (try standing on one leg with your eyes closed) and once it has been achieved it requires constant readjustments to maintain. The opposite of balance is “wobbly” “unstable” “unsteady” none of which are how organisations would wish to be described. So why is it so hard for the workplace to achieve balance, why does it so often get put in the “too difficult” pile?
We’ve heard the following from organisations:-
1. They don’t know where to start or the problem is too big
2. They they don’t have a problem
3. They can’t find enough senior women
4. Women have families
Here’s some food for thought:
1. Start small but do something, work out your pain points, test and measure the response.
- These organisations either currently have what they consider is a good balance or are part of the “one and done” in terms of having a female board director. However, they often don’t have a pipeline of future female leaders or a programme to sponsor and advocate their women.
- We believe in developing female leaders from the outset of their careers and run programmes to support this. There’s also a huge pool of untapped resource of women who have left the workplace looking for opportunities to return.
- Women have families not a shelf life. We deliver maternity coaching with a number of organisations that support the transition back to work. Flexible working will be the norm in the workplace of the future, yet the extent to which it’s currently used has not changed significantly in the last decade. What’s your approach?
We advocate career planning for women to work out if and when they want a family and how that will work with their career.
Only 56% of UK women in the early stages of their careers aspire to senior leadership, so there is a lot to do to achieve balance in the workplace. Start by doing something.