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NEW BLOG: businesses MUST NOT BE alien or elite

Still a long way to go — progress continues. Keep it up!” said Cara, one of our twitter followers, responding to this week’s figures showing almost a quarter of all FTSE 100 board positions are now held by women, almost double the figure four years ago.

And that’s good news. If business wants to secure the trust of customers and employees it can’t be alien or elite. It has to reflect the people it serves, the communities it operates in.

When Liz Bingham of professional services firm EY wrote for The Great Business Debate, she said: “Countless studies have shown the link between the diversity of an organisation’s workforce and its financial performance.”

While it’s too trite and simplistic to believe putting more women in boardrooms is substituting a feminine & collaborative approach for a macho & competitive one — having directors and a workforce with a range of backgrounds, circumstances, experiences and perspectives does result in a wider range of approaches and better business decision making.

So good progress but more for businesses to do and more for them to gain.

My boss, Katja Hall said; “Businesses must now continue to work on building the talent pipeline by supporting more women to take on management roles”

The important thing is to start the process. I’ve found that sometimes it’s only as you develop a properly diverse team that you really become aware of what you need to do to go on having a diverse team.

Personally, I don’t have children. Would I necessarily interpret how we set-up and manage the demands of our workplace in the same way parents do? No.

There was a time when it had to be pointed out to me that working around a monthly team breakfast meeting is a bigger deal for a parent who needs to be on the school run than for someone in my position. It just hadn’t occurred to me. The team breakfast is now brunch so everyone can be involved. No-one is either under undue stress to make it or being forced to miss out.

Simply taking a positive approach to flexible working has resulted in a more diverse team and I’m now more aware of how being wedded to particular working arrangements can cut a business off from whole swathes of talent

It’ll often be little things like these that will make the difference and help us get to 50% of the FTSE 100’s board members being women.

Andy Bagnall is the CBI’s Director of Campiagns

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