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Bridge the divide as a business imperative

The case for gender diversity in the workplace has been well and truly proven, but the number of women on boards continues to lag. We speak to Andrea O'Bryan of Diversity at Work, Steve Rowe of IAG and Simone Carroll of REA Group for their thoughts on attracting and retaining women.

Video transcript below:

Donna Sawyer, HC TV
Donna Sawyer:
 The business case for gender diversity in the workplace is clear and yet the number of women in executive positions continues to lag.  Andrea O’Bryan of Diversity at Work says it’s time to set quotas especially to increase the number of women on board.  

Andrea O’Bryan, Diversity At Work
Andrea O’Bryan:  You set quotas for every other aspect of your business from the revenue you expect to generate, from the continuous improvement, from what your costs will be in your head count.  So it seems very natural that you would include quotas for increasing your women on board.  That makes good business sense.
 
Steve Rowe, IAG
Steve Rowe:  We have about 60% of our population are women, but at the senior leadership level it’s only around 29%.  We are looking to grow that to 33% by the end of 2015.  So yes, we are not satisfied with the balance at the senior leader level.
 
Donna Sawyer:  IAG’s General Manager of People & Culture, Steve Rowe says gender diversity has been a real focal point for the company which has introduced a suite of HR policies aimed at attracting and retaining women. 
 
Steve Rowe:  There is a new conversation going on in IAG and elsewhere around the business benefits of diversity and inclusion, particularly around gender diversity.  So for us it is a no-brainer.  I think there is a very clear link between having a more diverse work force which requires you to have, you know equal numbers of men and women and so forth and performance.  So for us it was a clear business imperative.
 
Andrea O’Bryan:  If the executive team are living the values of diversity and inclusion, it’s natural that it’s going to filter down to the managers and to the team.  
 
Simone Carroll, REA Group
Simone Carroll:  Diversity is really important for innovation.  So we want to have men, women from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of experiences working towards a common purpose which is to serve our customers and our consumers who search our site.
 
Donna Sawyer:  Simone Carroll of REA Group which has been recognised as an employer of choice for women says attracting women to untraditional roles opens the door to innovation.
 
Simone Carroll:  What’s more important is that you think of yourself as a place that women would want to work.  So you have to have the mind set of someone looking for perhaps flexible work arrangements, perhaps opportunities that are not typical for women to explore.  So you think about areas that are non-traditional areas.  IT for example is a non-traditional area and we think about, “well how can we make that a more attractive place for a woman to want to come and work in”.  So we do things like make sure that our IT folks are working in cross functional teams.
 
Andrea O’Bryan:  Best practice organisations are not taking any of their approaches for granted.  They are continually going back to their population and checking what are some of the drivers.  They are assisting some of their diverse employees to move up and what are some of the stoppers.  We find that they are incorporating everything from mentoring programs to learning and development programs and opportunities to shadow senior people.  
 
Donna Sawyer:  This Donna Sawyer reporting for HC TV.