The conversations around the future of inclusivity and diversity are happening now, but I think it is up to us to encourage movement, action and impact. Let me ask you a question – when was the last time your organisation took a chance on someone?
Thirty years ago, when I stood on the bridge of a Royal Navy warship patrolling the Gulf, I couldn’t have imagined that I would go on to create Northern Power Women (NPW). The largest and most impactful gender community in the North, NPW has gathered and cultivated a diverse community of women and men who are accelerating gender equality across a range of sectors and roles. It was the opportunity given to me by my commanding officer in the navy, who took a chance on me, and insisted that this short northern lass took a chance.
The power of new people
Now is the time for you to take a chance on someone new, for your organisation to embrace mentoring, support and encouragement. Last year, my team and I launched Northern Power Futures, a campaign designed to support both young people and employers in the North – to provide them with the connections, skills and information on the exciting opportunities around the future world of work.
Embracing the experiences and knowledge of others can bring out the best in ourselves, make our own strengths come to the surface and make a difference in everything we do. We welcome around 10% of our audiences from underserved communities but it’s the 90% who will help to make a significant difference by taking a chance on young people, up and coming talent and those who are seeking to retrain or return to work.
Diversity in senior management opens up communication
You can’t be what you can’t see. Seeing a diverse range of people with a seat at the table creates role models and creates a space for people who are overlooked, amplifying their voices. This creates a wider community and opens opportunities, experiences and connects people. Today, I feel we have managed to move the conversation forward with employers now being more aware of the need – and business benefit – of a having diverse workforce and senior leadership team.
Diverse boards outperform their rivals and continuing positive action is required now to end the inequality in organisations and pick up the pace of progress. Our Northern Power Women Awards celebrates those change-makers, returners and pipeline talent that are making these changes that are happening right now. A Northern regional approach to tackling gender inclusivity is a bold and innovative move; it will help develop workplace equality for everyone and create a considerable competitive advantage in attracting and retaining the best skills and talent.
Bringing women together in the North has allowed individuals to achieve amazing things through these connections and networks. We want to signpost people to the immense talent that’s here in the North and create a significant shift in agenda.
Why is it critical to ‘pay it forward’?
I believe paying it forward is an opportunity to have impact. I think of it as the best advice I never got, and I used the chance to pass that on to someone who can use it to influence their career and change their career too. Paying it forward could be mentoring, taking the time to listen or using your skills and experience to leverage change.
I see it is as an opportunity for companies and organisations to address gender imbalance and diversity issues and discover new talent by taking a chance. It could be something small that can have a huge impact, so pay it forward today and enjoy the rewards that follow.