~ By our Marketing Consultant Laura Ball ~
You know it’s been a good event when you’ve laughed and cried in equal measures! And that is exactly what happened when a group of twenty like-minded business women got together to start their conversations around Diversity and Inclusion at a Board-level and what it meant to them.
The event was the brainchild of Rowan’s Louise Stephenson (Associate CIPD) and HSBC’s Jyoti Chhiba; both senior leaders in their companies and with a passion for leading a diverse team.
Louise opened the speaking for the day, leading the group in a toast to an iconic female leader, The Queen. Jyoti followed up with hard-hitting facts and figures on females in board positions, along with a thought-provoking quote close to her heart; “You can’t be what you can’t see”.
As the conversations started to flow we heard stories of inequality based on which school or university our female leaders attended.
There were examples of being asked to serve the tea and coffee by fellow board members at their first ever board meeting.
Instances of being drawn into conversations on the assumption they are the wife of the business owner and not the owner themselves! And the struggle to find the opportunities despite coming through the care system or growing up on a council estate.
There were also celebrations. Of fundraising for a school to enable them to increase their bursary scheme to reach a more diverse section of the local community.
Of moderating a panel at the One Young World Summit. Of setting up a business where 95% of the staff are female.
As the story-sharing continued and many business achievements celebrated the group were transfixed by the speaker Kellie Rixon MBE FIH as she shared her journey to where she is today as a successful business owner. Kellie spoke with passion about her first board role at De Vere hotel group, where she spearheaded the launch of their hospitality academy.
She spoke with great awareness of how gender inequality had impacted her progress as the only senior female in a business. But it was the change that Kellie was able to drive for a more diverse and inclusive ‘non-graduate’ recruitment scheme that really captured the attention of the group.
The day ended on a high, with plans in place for a follow-up event and the commitment to take learnings and ideas back to their places of work.
Thanks go to Jyoti Chhiba, from HSBC, for co-hosting the event with our own Louise Stephenson (Associate CIPD). And a special thank you to all our wonderful attendees; Christy Foster, Claire Thomson, Jenny Linney, Kathryn Shuttleworth, Nichola Halverson, Rita Abrol, Danielle King, Christina Taylor, Suzanne Keating, Victoria Cosgrove, Zoe Brimelow, Louise Ellis, Tammy Hopla, Lexi Graty and Samantha Hanley.