Why are we still talking about Gender bias in 2021?

In 2014 I asked Peter Green the Headmaster of Rugby School, on his first day in the role what do you do to combat gender bias within a traditionally boys school? He was direct and no nonsense in his answer, almost astounded that I would be asking “As a Father of two girls in 2014 it is  just not a conversation we need to have.” He was right, and in the five fabulous years of my oldest daughters time there I can honestly say I never got the sense of anything other than equality for all.

I can’t explain how exciting it was for me that my daughters would have such a different experience to my school experience. In the middle of the 80s I did a term of car mechanics at 16 because of a stand I made where I signed up to an activity, purely because, of the many activities on offer, it was the only one that said “(boys only)” beside it on the sign up sheet.

Working in Lloyds Insurance Market in the late 80s and 90s I could write a book on the number of times I experienced discrimination. The City has changed, let me tell you it needed to.

So, if we can have equality in 2014 why is it still a discussion in 2021? Businesses are working so hard to redress the balance. My favourite initiative has to be from Ernst and Young who are proudly leading the way with “Women. Fast Forward ” .

“WOMEN. FAST FORWARD” is an initiative that has been developed from several different groups for women within Ernst and Young. It has centralised and focussed support for women throughout the Corporation . The original women centric groups included female entrepreneurs, a path for female athletes and an internal networking coalition for women at EY. This collaboration is purposeful and perfectly timed. Ernst and Young profess to want to be the Leading voice for women’s empowerment on a global scale.

“The time is now to act to create a world that is equitable for all.” Julie Linn Teigland EY EMEIA Area Managing Partner and EY Global Leader- Women Fast Forward.

So let’s Fast Forward and in 2021 EY are creating an inclusive culture to enable women’s potential, it is so exciting to witness. I love their initiative, I want to work with their women and support them into Leadership roles and change the balance at Board Level.

Does this strategy offside men? Or is it equality struggling hard to rebalance? This redress has to happen. Bias we MUST talk about wherever it is, it is generally borne out of fear or ignorance, it is very often not understood or recognised by the perpetrator, so more discussions must be had. We need to call it out, be aware and never ignore it, both in ourselves and in others. Let us empower everyone in business to imagine what success looks like for all.

Have you considered that great teams are made up of people who are emotionally intelligent and aware of each member of the team. That old cliche there is no “I” in TEAM. Gone are the days where working as individuals under the same roof is going to cut it… Move with the times and imagine how working in a collaborative, creative and cohesive team where no one is singled out for gender, race, or age, surely this is where success lives?

So here is the rub, I work with women… am I propagating the gender discussion? This is something I have thought a lot about, of course I coach men too, but my Business plan is  specifically supporting Women in business and in particularly the financial sector, globally. 

Women are still outnumbered in this arena, yes a lot has changed, and is changing at pace. It is astonishing however that in February 2021 S&P show only 5.8 %  of women in CEO roles in the Fortune 500. And yet firms with female CEOs and CFOs have produced superior stock price performance, compared to the market average. In the 24 months post-appointment, female CEOs saw a 20% increase in stock price momentum and female CFOs saw a 6% increase in profitability and 8% larger stock returns. These results are economically and statistically significant.

I was Vice President of an International Broking House and I am mother of 3, I have juggled business and family commitments for 20 years and I have experienced the devastating death of close friends and the earthquake that is divorce. So at 50 I feel I understand challenges faced by women. As an Executive Coach I am particularly successful and able to support WOMEN, but yes, I can coach anyone. 

So let’s start to take gender out of the discussion, listen to Peter Green when he says “it is not a discussion we need to have” … but be mindful of its importance and let us continue to redress the balance and support those firms who lead the way.

Should I therefore correct my business plan? Update my website? No, I work with anyone, my Best work is with Women in the Boardroom may more make their way there. …