Yesterday Cplhosted a Building Inclusion Together workshop at the Alexander Hotel, Dublin. Those in attendance represented a broad spectrum of industry leaders and thinkers across a number of sectors from technology and finance to law and insurance. The workshop consisted of 90% men at CEO and Director level and focused on helping those attending understand gender diversity, its problems and its opportunities.
Peter Cosgrove, Director of Group Marketing and Communications at Cpl, and Sandra Healy, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at DCU, hosted the session. A key objective was to remove the guilt and alienation that men can feel when it comes to the debate on diversity. Issues such as board representation, promotions and the pay gap often make men uncomfortable. However, changing mindsets on these issues is vital if we are to make waves.
Diversity as an opportunity
Diversity is apriorityfor many businesses globally. The positive impact of pursuing inclusive policies are evident. The most valuable brands in the world have a higher than average proportion of female board members. The top seven brands in 2013 had an average 22.7% female board membership. While diversity is a priority, it's the reluctance to open conversations and truly engage that is holding many organisations back. That is why the 30% Club and Cpl are working together to encourage more open and confidential discussions with actionable strategies for change.
The problem of unconscious bias
Another challenge that was raised was the issue of unconscious bias. Unconscious prejudices can deprive an organisation of valuable ideas and innovation. Women often avoid raising their voice for fear of backlash. Yale psychologist Victoria L. Brescoll found that when male executives spoke more than their peers they were rated 10% more competent; when female executives did so, they were rated as 14% less competent. Orchestras try to combat bias by holding blind auditions. Companies can incorporate similar processes by focusing on the idea rather than the person voicing it.
After the event Peter Cosgrove commented that 'the feedback from men on this event has been incredible. So many are looking to understand not just the issue, but what actionable steps they and their organisations can take to make the requisite changes. I would be very hopeful, given the engagement, about the future of gender diversity, and men's role in supporting it'.
Including men in the conversations around diversity is critical if we are to achieve gender diversity. They have a seat at the table, and have a great deal of power to enact the changes we need to see happening. We need to encourage everyone to raise their voice, remove the guilt in doing so and ultimately convince the influencers that diversity equals success.
The 30% Club aims to increase female representation at board level through collaborating with prominent Irish businesses and ensuring a constant spotlight on the issue in the public sphere. The Club is working towards achieving 30% female representation at board level.