Hazel McLaughlin, Partner at OE Cam and lead author on the international research, “Women in Power,  Contributing factors that impact on women in organisations and politics; psychological research and best practice“, shares her top tips around diversity in this short video for Crafty Counsel.  She highlights: how to address unconscious bias, going beyond the day job to build social capital and senior leaders as role models & instigators of new ways of working.

Hazel says: “Despite a 50:50 split at graduate level, women are still under-represented in Boards and it will be a real challenge to meet the 2020 targets of 33%“.

33% representation of women on FTSE 350 Boards and FTSE 350 Executive Committee and the Direct Reports to Executive Committee by the end of 2020.

The third report from the Hampton-Alexander Review “Improving Gender Balance in FTSE Leadership” suggests that progress is being made towards these targets, but there is still much to be done to achieve true equality…

When it comes to gender equality, companies today suffer a ‘knowing-doing gap’. Most executives know how strong the empirical evidence is that proves the link between fostering more diverse mindsets and achieving superior financial performance. But progress is still too slow. Achieving real change requires committed leadership at the top and sustained effort to shift mindsets and correct hidden biases across the organisation. Purpose driven companies that create value for society as well as for shareholders build from a foundation of diversity and inclusion.  (Dominic Barton, McKinsey, Hampton-Alexander Review, November 2018)

Part of an organisation’s diversity action plan is to think about Unconscious Bias.  Hazel says “We all use shortcuts to interpret our world and this opens us up to making assumptions, to stereotyping and unconscious bias.  It’s these biases which hold women and minorities back”.  At a basic level, senior leaders and HR can look to incorporate specific development activities that build awareness of unconscious bias.  For example, our assumptions about the way women dress and the pitch of their voice in meetings.

Secondly, organisation’s can support individual’s to build their social capital.  For example, by proactively enabling women to take on projects and playing a key role in company-wide initiatives.  Through mentoring and coaching, everyone can learn how to be more strategic in their networking to achieve their career goals.

Hazel’s final tip concerns new ways of working.  How can leaders take more of a conscious approach to removing the barriers to equality around recruitment, retention and promotion?  “As psychologists, we work with leaders to build their talent strategy and to attract, retain and develop diverse talent within their organisations. This is a really powerful way for organisations to change policies, practices and procedures that will enable diverse talent to succeed in their organisation.”

For further information about how OE Cam can support you to build greater organisational diversity, please contact hazel.mclaughlin@oecam.com or phone our Cambridge office on +44 (0)1223 269009.