“If not us, who? If not now, when?

Why We Need a Joined Up National Approach to Achieve Gender & Equality in the Workplace

The recently published Sawers Review identified a diverse and active gender support eco system in Scotland and across the UK. This eco system is aimed primarily at supporting women in the workplace and within companies and sectors who have specific talent, skills or business needs.

In Scotland alone the Review identified over 90 organisations with a gender related focus. Many of these organisations are self funding, offering support and services delivered by volunteers (Change the Chemistry, LeanIn etc), others are subsets of national organisations (30% Club, Inspirational Journey, Women on Boards etc), business or trade organisations (Association of Scottish Businesswomen, IOD, BITC, CBI, Chambers of Commerce etc) or organisations with a specific sector or industry focus (such as those in law, construction, engineering, education, ITC etc). Others are aimed at supporting female start-ups and entrepreneurship (such as Woman’s Enterprise Scotland, ESpark etc) or driving engagement on policy or political change (such as 50:50, Engender, Close the Gap, SCDI etc). Some provide services free whilst others charge for access to services and support programmes. Within the workplace itself there are also woman specific support services offered by Trade Unions and a large and growing number of company focused women’s networks that offer specific, tailored services, including career development, workplace representation, mentoring, training and skills development.

Furthermore, the number of gender focused groups and representative bodies continues to grow on an almost daily basis – underpinned by new legislation, a growing awareness and desire for change by women themselves and also as more companies recognise the bottom line benefits and business value of having a fully engaged workforce and a diverse talent pool on which to draw upon within their business.

This is mirrored by the increasing focus of many existing business support organisations on the opportunities to provide gender related services to their members, to women directly or through third party organisations. Likewise new networks, services and support groups have emerged to fill perceived business or gender support gaps in the market and workplace. Equalities and women support related services is fast becoming an industry in itself.

The scale, extent and pace with which this is happening highlights the very fragmented and diverse nature of the business, public, third sector and government approach to gender as a national economic opportunity.

Whilst acknowledging the valuable support and contribution that many of these organisations make to the promotion and support of women’s issues and representation, there is surely a need for a single unifying “National Gender Action Plan” that sets out clear objectives, goals and guidelines that businesses and the support networks can invest in and work towards. A “National Gender Action Plan” could also provide a focus and framework within which many support organisations could operate, ensuring coordination of activities with others and an alignment of contributions, resources and support towards national shared goals and objectives.

In the absence of this framework, how do we know what “good” looks like and when will we know when we get there? In times of austerity and financial constraint, surely a joined up approach to an agreed set of objectives and measures across the public, private and third sectors makes sense.

As businesses seek to respond to growing equalities legislation, increasing workforce, shareholder and customer expectations, and to manage the impact of disruptive technologies and wider economic factors, surely we can agree that there is now a need or commercial imperative for better connection, collaboration and partnership working across many of these organisations. This will ensure, as a nation, we deliver the most effective gender related return on the time, resource and effort invested in resolving many of the issues and in maximising the potential and opportunities that equality in the workplace will provide.

The Sawers Review specifically identified the need for a “National Gender Action Plan” – evidencing the value of having shared national economic objectives and goals linked to gender. This coordinated approach would enable measurement of the return on investment on programmes and activities and allow an effective assessment of progress and impact over time for businesses, support organisations, for Government and importantly for the economy.

Work has already started to bring participants and stakeholders together from across Scotland to scope this framework and identify measures, if you would like to contribute and join us in this work, please get in touch.

Professor Lesley Sawers, is Executive Chair at GenAnalytics, a people science social business, using data and analytics to unlock business and economic performance linked to equalities.

lesley.sawers@genanalytics.co.uk
@ProfLesleyS

Measuring for Growth and Impact: #Womenomics

Since publishing my #WomenomicsReview in March I have been overwhelmed by the offers of support, assistance and willingness to progress the actions and recommendations from across the public and private sectors and from men and women of all ages.

This #Womenomics Review seems to have touched the zeitgeist of working women and many companies and sectors across Scotland. Like me, those individuals and organisations recognise the need for change and want to see a more gender balanced society in their lifetime. And most importantly they are willing to play their part to make it happen.

The sharing of anecdotes and experiences has also continued and whilst I believe the Review captured the key issues and opportunities linked to gender in the workplace, what has become apparent to me in recent weeks is that the depth, scale and extent of the impact at an individual level on many working women and business owners is greater than I first anticipated. I am now coming to the conclusion that the Review only evidenced the “tip of the iceberg”.

Consistently, everyone recognises that we need measures, we need coordinated action plans and we need to focus on delivering results all within an agreed timeframe. For a nation with around one million women of working age, we are not short in organisations and agencies that represent us. The Womenomics Review identified 66 organisations (and that’s excluding 59 Trade Unions and Trade Union Councils) representing the female voice in the workplace and in the Boardroom within Scotland. Just think what we could achieve as a nation if we pulled these resources, identified a common agenda and action plan and worked together to deliver a 3 or 4 step change programme over the next 5-10 years.

I am also convinced, more than ever, that we need national government gender policies and programmes informed by economic strategy, hardwired to economic performance and growth and measurable in terms of a return on investment and GDP. This is the positioning and approach that will drive business engagement and support and ultimately change workplace behaviours and cultures. That is how we will eradicate gender bias be it unconscious or manifested in talent pipelines, pay differentials or business start up rates.

Now that would be progressive.

Professor Lesley Sawers

@ProfLesleyS

Lesley is Vice Principal Business, Innovation and Enterprise and also holds a number of public and charitable Non Executive Director roles. She was previously CEO of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry and of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce following a successful career in the corporate and business sector.

LeanIn and Shout Out!

This week sees the launch of LeanIn Scotland, the Scottish based connection to the global movement for woman founded by Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. The response and reaction to the formation of the group from women in both the private and public sector, at all levels within organisations and from across Scotland has been phenomenal.

The desire for change and the passion and commitment to make a lasting and real difference to the lives of working women across the nation is clear. Moreover, it chimes with the global action for change movement, supported by the LeanIn organisation that is taking place across the world.

Globally, nationally and locally we have the opportunity to make a real and lasting difference to the working lives and contribution that women make to the economy and civic wellbeing of Scottish society.

In my three plus decades of workplace experience, I have lived, worked, and been part of four landmark eras in female workforce participation and progress. From the post feminist “Female Eunuch” focus of Germaine Greer; the “Superwoman” decade of Shirley Conran and the “Have it All” power women epitomised by Nicola Horlicks through to the twenty first century of Dr Lois Frankel’s “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” right to today’s millennium generation of LeanIn’ers championed by Sheryl Sandberg.

But never during my working life have the gender stars been so in alignment to achieve significant progress and that much needed step change in terms of equal opportunities at work. With the coming together of the passion, the ambition of a new generation, the widespread desire for change in organisations and the new emerging social and business orders, matched with legislation and policy drivers never has the possibly of transformational change of the role of women in the workplace been so great.

And yet, currently even with this most influential and connected generation of women of all time, despite the energy and work undertaken by generations of my predecessors, contemporaries and successors and despite enabling legislation, we still have woeful numbers of women in leadership positions or participating in boardroom discussions. We still have too many women in part time or unskilled roles, many earning minimum wage and disproportionately impacted by the recession and lower levels of female business start ups.

Why is that? We have the talent, we have the ambition, we have the opportunity – so what do we need to do as a society and economy to finally smash the box that keeps women stuck to the floor or pinned down by a ceiling?

Starting at the top of an organisation, seems to be a logical place – I have never supported board quota’s, preferring to endorse the best “person” for the job. However, in my experience and observations on progress over the period of my working life, has convinced me that unless we legislate for change, we will not make the significant progress that society and our economy needs.

I know I am not alone in my views. In my own peer group, most women I speak to share this view. Most of us have also grown impatient with the pace of change and the lack of progress in this area.

So in coming together this week to encourage and support a generation of women in Scotland to LeanIn, they also deserve those older, wiser and battled scarred female colleagues to Shout Out, and push for the change that will finally deliver gender equality at all levels in the workplace for women in Scotland.

Professor Lesley Sawers
Vice Principal & Pro Vice Chancellor Business, Innovation & Enterprise
Glasgow Caledonian University

A Living Legacy – New Blog Post

I was recently asked to give an address to the Trades House of the City of Glasgow and to outline my thoughts on the importance of supporting our young people to achieve their maximum potential.

The Trades House is one of the oldest institutions in the City, and their mission of providing support to the needy and encouraging young people through support for education remains central to its activity.

Although Glasgow Caledonian University is a modern institution – granted University status in 1992 – we can trace our roots back to 1875 with the founding of Queens College. Compared to the Trades House we are still very much in our infancy however we share an aligned focus to our work.

GCU’s focus has always been, and will continue to be, providing access to higher education for many young people from across the region. Our successful track record in opening up university education to disadvantaged communities is fundamental to this. 96% of student intake is from State Schools, higher than the Scottish benchmark rate of 80%. 32% of our students come from disadvantaged backgrounds compared to the Scottish average of 26%. And this year we supported 700 students to transfer from HNC’s to a University degree, the highest in Scotland.

Through our community engagement programme, the Caledonian Club, seven thousand young people (aged from 3 to 18) and three thousand families facing extreme hardship have been supported to gain core life skills and experiences to support them to access education and job training.

We recognise the role that we all play in developing the skills and most importantly the opportunities for young people in the City.

Education and training have the ability to transform lives; it did for me.

Young people are our future and in the short time I have been at Glasgow Caledonian, only five months, I have been inspired by the ambition, energy and positivity I see around me from our twenty thousand students. And whilst I hear many businesses talking about how higher and further education does not produce work ready graduates I’m beginning to think they must be recruiting from the wrong place.

At Glasgow Caledonian, we are third in the UK for graduate employability – ahead of both Oxford and Cambridge. And we are working with organisations such as Hewlett Packard, Morgan Stanley and KPMG to integrate their business needs into our degree programmes. I believe that’s the model for the future. Business and Higher and Further education institutions working together to create a talent pipeline that meets the needs of business but at the same time, allows young people to achieve their ambitions and full potential.

2014 will be a year that Glasgow and Scotland will be recognised across the globe with the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup taking place within just a few months of each other.

Everyone across the City has the responsibility to make this year and the focus on Glasgow and Scotland a huge success. I am confident that we will all use our resources, networks and creativity to ensure Glasgow 2014 is the best Games ever.

But with all of this, we also have an added responsibility, beyond the 2 weeks of sporting celebration and achievement during the Games. We have the responsibility of ensuring that we deliver what I call the “Living Legacy” from 2014. This means that we need to work together to ensure this city’s young people have every opportunity and chance to improve not only his or her own life chances but also their families and generations to come.

To make this happen requires partnership and support at all levels not just for my own organisation but for many other colleges, universities and in many workplaces.

The 14 Trades of this city are the heart of that investment, its history and very being is focused on skills and training, it is in the Trades House DNA. The challenge that we all face is to take our proud industrial history and legacy and ensure its relevance in a contemporary and connected global city.

Within Glasgow, we have a strong partnership approach across the City Council, the Merchants, the Trades and the Chamber – one of the longest and most enduring and still effective business networks outside the City of London. This partnership delivers. The opportunity to deploy and focus that network in support of education and training, aligned to the City economic strategy is immense.

As we face even greater pressure on resources and public funding of training and education, the importance of business engagement and support becomes even more critical.

People Make Glasgow – Delivering a Living Legacy for a City – New Blog Post

Over the last eight years, I have been part of the business and civic community who have worked to translate a vision of hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games into reality.
And as we approach the landmark year, we know that 2014 will be one of the most exciting times to be living, working or studying and investing in Glasgow.

It will be a hugely memorable year for the City in terms of the not just for the Commonwealth Games, but also for the Ryder Cup and the MTV Awards – all global events, attracting audiences in their hundreds of millions, all delivered within a sixteen week time frame. And as a city we have new world class, iconic venues to support an exciting calendar of Games, cultural and sporting activities at the Emirates Arena, the Hydro, Tollcross Aquatic Centre, Kelvingrove and the new Waterfront Museum.

In addition there is a £17million upgrade at our international airport and a growing digital quarter on the banks of the Clyde anchored by the BBC and STV, leading on entertainment, news and the creative industries. Glasgow is a city that is investing for the future. We have a £24 million national technology demonstrator project underway matched by significant investment across the higher and further education sector, including a £30 million programme at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Glasgow is a 21st century global city of education, events, retail, culture, leisure, leading healthcare and technology innovation, life sciences and financial services.

But most importantly it is a city of unique and extraordinary people.

The recently refreshed city brand recognises this valuable asset and the importance of Glasgow’s social capital in driving its economic renaissance.
It is “People who Make Glasgow” and it is the people of this city who will deliver the most successful Commonwealth Games ever. But the real prize for Glasgow will not solely reside in the bricks and mortar or in hard wired digital infrastructure it will be the “living legacy” that resides within our communities, our students, our citizens that will shape the future for our businesses, our economy and the young people of this city.

At Glasgow Caledonian University, we are also investing in our future, the future of our city and our young people. We recognise the significant potential and opportunity that exist for Glasgow beyond 2014, not just in technological innovation but in the growth of social innovation and enterprise. We are aligning our teaching and learning with the growing global demands of the economy and we are future proofing the opportunities for young people from across the region. And with access to our campuses in New York, Oman, Bangladesh and London we are creating a global network of learning and opportunity for all.

At Glasgow Caledonian University, we believe the future looks bright and as we move towards 2014 we are determined to play our part to deliver the living legacy for this city and the people who make Glasgow great.

Advice given to Sir Alex Ferguson…”You can’t win anything with Kids”….

Last year Kofi Annan addressed SCDI’s global leadership event, his message was aimed at young people and in the potential and contribution they make to society and to economic growth.

He recognised the capabilities of Scotland’s youth but acknowledged the challenging economic environment they face especially in securing jobs and training opportunities. 

His message was however, one of hope and encouragement. Encouraging young people not to hold themselves back, to take ownership of their lives and importantly to believe in themselves and to set goals.

Next week is Scottish Apprenticeship Week (SAW2013) and Kofi Annan’s message is still as relevant to Scotland’s young people today as it was last year.

In Scotland around 17% of young people are unemployed, less than many other European countries, but it is still too high and it disguises the damaging long term effects that youth unemployment can have on the aspiration, ambition, health and wellbeing not just of the young people themselves but of a nation.

During SAW2013, we will focus on the success of many of Scotland’s young people in becoming Apprentices and we will work to encourage more employers and businesses across Scotland to introduce an apprenticeship scheme and to recruit more young people into their workforce.

With 67,000 16-24 year olds in Scotland still looking for work, the aim is to have more of Scotland’s smaller businesses, estimated to be in the region of 300,000, employing at least one young person in an apprenticeship scheme. That’s just over one in five of businesses across Scotland giving one young person that life chance.

In a week that also saw the football legend Sir Alex Ferguson retire, a well known pundit once famously remarked to Sir Alex that “You can’t win anything with Kids”, well we all know how wrong that proved to be!

If you are in a position to make a life changing difference to one young person check out how to go about it and what support is available at http://www.sds.co.uk/SAW2013

Support Scottish Apprenticeship Week

 Last year Kofi Annan addressed SCDI’s global leadership event, his message was aimed at young people and in their potential and contribution they make to society and to economic growth.

He recognised the capabilities of Scotland’s youth but acknowledged the challenging economic environment they face especially in securing jobs and training opportunities. 

His message was however, one of hope and encouragement. Encouraging young people not to hold themselves back, to take ownership of their lives and importantly to believe in themselves and to set goals.

Next week is Scottish Apprenticeship Week (SAW2013) and Kofi Annan’s message is still as relevant to Scotland’s young people today as it was last year.

In Scotland around 17% of young people are unemployed, less than many other European countries, but it is still too high and it disguises the damaging long term effects that youth unemployment can have on the aspiration, ambition, health and wellbeing not just of the young people themselves but of a nation.

During SAW2013, we will focus on the success of many of Scotland’s young people in becoming Apprentices and we will work to encourage more employers and businesses across Scotland to introduce an apprenticeship scheme and to recruit more young people into their workforce.

With 67,000 16-24 year olds in Scotland still looking for work, the aim is to have more of Scotland’s smaller businesses, estimated to be in the region of 300,000, employing at least one young person in an apprenticeship scheme. That’s just over one in five of businesses across Scotland giving one young person that life chance.

In a week that also saw the football legend Sir Alex Ferguson retire, a well known pundit once famously remarked to Sir Alex that “ You can’t win anything with Kids”, well we all know how wrong that proved to be!

If you are in a position to make a life changing difference to one young person check out how to go about it and what support is available at http://www.sds.co.uk/SAW2013