I spent an inspiring day in London last week at the Telegraph’s Women Mean Business conference, listening to the likes of Mary Portas, Clare Balding and Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt talking about the challenges and opportunities facing women in the workplace, as well as the huge contribution that all of us can make.
This industry has worked hard over recent years to transform its appeal to women and it’s really rewarding now to see so many high profile figures being appointed to key positions, as well as the influx of resourceful, motivated young women joining at all different levels. What was probably most interesting about the conference for me was not that it waved the flag for women, although obviously that was one of the main drivers, but that it made everyone who attended question and reconsider everything about their own workplace and the value of every single person within it.
Mary Portas talked about how she changed the culture of her own agency with initiatives such as allowing employees to be MD for the day, creating a ‘sunshine committee’ to empower the most junior staff to bring in a breath of fresh air, and implementing 360 reviews so that everyone could learn how to interact with one another better. Others talked about the importance of training to address unconscious bias in the workplace and the benefits of having a 50/50 talent pool when recruiting. It wasn’t just women on the panels either; we heard from men as well who made the vital point that men need to be on board with any changes which are made and that introducing feminine values into the workplace actually helps men as well.
I actually think that Mila is a pretty great place to work and I’m very proud of the gender balance we have here and the fact that our staff turnover is very low. What I learned was that there’s no room for complacency though. The world of work is changing very quickly and if we are to keep on attracting and retaining the brightest and the best – whether that is men or women – then we need to be prepared to look at new initiatives and new approaches.