Every year we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March and the achievements of women are shared throughout the month. As part of the LCR High Growth Programme, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some of the brilliant women in our region, and soak in their expertise. The theme for International Women’s Day across the world is #EmbraceEquity, so we wanted to take that theme and hear from the most ambitious women in Liverpool City Region about how businesses can build more equitable workplaces through building equality into their growth plans.
Sumita Chopra is Transformation and Innovation Director at The Progress Group.
“Gender equality in its charter of 1945 and the universal declaration of human rights in 1948 officially recognised` women’s equality and non-discrimination on the basis on sex worldwide. Six decades later, gender diversity and inclusion can lull the organisation into a distorted sense of improvement.
Societal shift makes a strong case for ‘Neuro Diversity’ thus equitable opportunities regardless of protected characteristics.”
“These characteristics define where and how we have arrived instead of equitable opportunities at workplace/organisations – define what is our destination, aligning us to a common goal and vision resulting in a ‘win win’ situation of personal and business growth.
Organisations wanting growth need to deliberately recognise unconscious bias, break down silos via cross-level representation, breakdown cultural, language & accent dogma and see beyond skills, competencies and capabilities to attract, recruit and retain best talent, people are the biggest asset with manifold return to any organisation on growth journey!”
Jo Austin Greer is Founder of Marketing with Jo.
“It’s sad that in 2023 we are still needing to push for equality in the workplace as you would think by now the benefits of doing so would have penetrated even the biggest of sceptics. The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #EmbraceEquity. When I first saw this theme, it troubled me a little, wondering if simply embracing equity is the answer, as surely it goes much deeper than that.”
However, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think this is a good place to start. What does equality in business look like?
- Equal Pay
- Equal representation on leadership teams and boards
- Equal opportunity and investment in pathways for career progression
- Company benefits reflecting the needs of all the staff team and their families
If each business plotted these things into their roadmap to growth, they wouldn’t need to back track later. These things should be a given, but they aren’t. But companies who do have equality at their core will ensure they have a committed workforce who feel valued and in turn will work harder and be more productive.
A study from McKinsey & Company, which analysed more than 1,000 companies worldwide, proved that organisations with greater diversity among their executive teams tend to have higher profits and longer-term value as well.
Equality isn’t just the human and decent thing to do, it also makes business sense, so those who don’t prioritise equality as part of their growth plan, do their business a disservice.
Anyone with growth ambition should embrace equity as a core business strategy.
Lila Tamea is a Non-Executive Director on Baltic Creative CIC’s Board.
“The further I develop in my career I realise that how true it is that they need us more than we need them – by they, I mean organisations, and we, I mean diverse communities.
There are plenty of studies which show the impact of having a equitable and diverse workplace on revenue and business outputs so I won’t go in to that, but ultimately, having diverse and equitable workforces can help a business understand its blind spots and push it to improve.”
For instance, the finance team of a company might not realise that interest [both paying and being in receipt of] is forbidden in Islam and so Muslims can’t access their services – a Muslim colleague might raise this and help them unlock a new audience.
But – having equitable work spaces and practices is a lot more than business growth ambitions, Equitable workforces can improve more than just the workplace – they can impact wider society in ways that you wouldn’t consider. That colleague who, in private, may have negative biases and beliefs on Muslims, after working with one, will realise that they aren’t what the media says they are. That will trickle down and have a domino effect within their own circles and wider, creating a more pleasant society overall.
About LCR High Growth Programme
The Liverpool City Region High Growth Programme, coordinated by Growth Platform, is designed to support businesses in the City Region demonstrating high growth potential to innovate, adapt, and grow.
Part-funded by ERDF, the project works with business leaders to future-proof their business, identifying post pandemic opportunities to increase productivity and diversify with sustainability in mind.