I could not let International Women’s Day pass without some comment…
True leadership and inspiration doesn’t discriminate. We often ask people who inspires them. Its a mother for her courage, it’s a sportsman for their determination or raw talent, its Steve Jobs, Margaret Thatcher, Martin Luther King, or The Queen. It’s personal. So why are we measuring the impact women have on business, politics, society by the number of us represented on the FTSE 100 Directorships?
Having attended 2 specific events this week on Women in Leadership I have mixed feelings on how we move forward. Cass Business School have their annual debate to tie in International Women’s Day. Last night the debate headline was ‘This house believes the future belongs to female leaders’. The final vote was very closely split with only just over 55% voting for the motion. I have to say I voted against and the reason is this…Oliver Blower quoted the Deloitte report ‘The Gender Divide’ that says ‘the future belongs to those…who can adopt and embrace the feminine archetype’ but he ended by saying ‘the future belongs to no-one but requires both male and female leaders’. I have to agree with this. Whilst Julie Verity talked about the scientific differences in how the male and female brain work, Douglas Board gave a more historical celebration of how women’s rights have come such a long way, but Oliver talked about the lack of female role models in the UK and he is right. The Forbes Top 100 Most powerful women have The Queen at #26 and JK Rowling at #78 and that is it for the UK. Anne Chatroux also highlighted there is no ‘Martina Luther King’ coming but ‘I am coming’. ‘I’ being every woman in the room, in London, in the UK. Women are not a minority in society, just a minority in the FTSE 100 Boardroom’s but does this mean we don’t influence, inspire or lead? All you have to do is look at Bill and Hilary Clinton. Hilary was always the brains behind the outfit but just not as visual.
Indra Adnan concluded and made a lovely reference to that fact that in a ‘work obsessed culture’ we are making decisions and judgements based on what is reality now. But what about next year or the year after that? We are experiencing a significant social change globally and whilst different countries and cultures are in different stages of change, there is change nonetheless. In 2025, the OECD forecasts that 71% of university graduates will be women. They say if you look after the cent’s, the dollars will look after themselves and I think this is true for women in leadership roles (whether that be in the home, at work or socially). The shift is already happening but we must be patient, just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Angela Franks is a Director at Macmillan Davies Hodes and doesn’t believe the answer is in quota’s.