Women in leadership
Gender and leadership is a much discussed issue of late with Lord Davies’ annual Women on Boards review being published, PR Week writing about PR and The Athena Doctrine and International Women’s Day taking place – all in March.
Coincidentally, an excellent Skills for Justice course for senior women leaders I’d been fortunate enough to have a place on also concluded at the same time.
One of the workshops opened with some words from the Chief of the organisation hosting the event and he posed the thought-provoking question ‘why bother?’ so I thought I’d try and answer it.
It’s proven that companies with diverse workforces perform better and, more importantly, public organisations should represent the communities they serve to be the best they possibly can.
Yet official figures tell us that women in the police and fire and rescue services make up fewer than 25 per cent of the workforce.
Therefore, that’s one reason why we should bother. But we should also bother because, judging by the people who were on that course with me, the senior women in the justice system are excellent at their jobs, have great values, experience and determination, and are just very cool.
On the very first day of the course I was able to be myself because of the inclusive environment the group created – not only was that great for me as an individual but authentic leadership is a vital factor in business success.
We worked as a group, excelled as individuals, nurtured each other, talked lots, made enlightening contributions and developed each other in subtle ways and, I’m proud to say, we lived up to many other typically female traits that make women great in the workplace.
The group also broke with stereotypes in equally brilliant ways – some of those women have done and are doing extraordinary things to be awesome people, better managers and top notch public servants.
Selfishly, I feel I’ve gained friends for life – only we know the full extent of what it was like to work together so intensely over the duration of the course, open up and share our experiences to get the most out of those days.
Crucially, these people are all in senior roles in police, fire or the justice system and combine with that motherhood, ageing parents, unusual personal circumstances and other priorities to give their full and unreserved commitment to a job that makes other people’s lives all the better.
Why bother? Why would you not try and support such talent in making their way to the top?