“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” ~ Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In
The 30% Club: Carving Opportunity for Female Professionals Around the World
In 2010, Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management decided it was time to address the gender imbalance in the boardroom. Realizing that there was a significant lack of female representation in boardrooms throughout the UK, she founded the 30% Club, an organization set on seeing women make up at least 30% of seats on FTSE-100 boards by 2019.
Five years later, the proportion of female directors in the UK has risen from 12.5% to 22.8%, and what began as an initiative to bring gender balance into the workplace, has become an international movement, committed to realizing a pipeline of senior female talent from “schoolroom to boardroom”.
Having recently celebrated the launch of chapters in the United States, Ireland, Southern Africa, Australia, and Malaysia, Canada’s chapter will be officially launching in September. They invite Chairs, CEOs and other influencers to become members and support initiatives and policies that further the cause.
Why 30%? Because it takes 30% to reach critical mass – only at 30% can a minority group become heard in their own right. Starkly against the setting of quotas when it comes to gender equality in the workplace, 30% Club suggests that 30% is more of an aspirational vision they would like to see achieved across the board.
Miles Travelled, Miles to Go: The State of Women in the Workplace
Five years down the road, and committed to the 30% goal across the board, here are what the numbers tell us (Source: 30% Club Website):
Figure 1 Percentage of woman board members in current 30% Club chapters
While some countries, like Canada have moved beyond 20+ percent of women representatives in boardrooms, other chapters like Ireland and Malaysia are decades behind. While changes brought about by 30% Club chapters will help other countries catch up quickly, women mustn’t stop taking steps needed to break through the barriers in pursuit of senior non-executive and executive roles.
When asked what women can do to help themselves get into executive positions, Jane Griffith of the Four Corners Group revealed that some women tend to opt out, rather than opt in, and suggest that it’s a matter of conversation and confidence holding them back: “Women have to change the manner in how they have that conversation. Women have to understand what they bring to the table.”
The role of women in the workplace and the push to join the conversation at a senior level is a timely subject. Riding alongside the force of Sheryl Sandberg and her call for all women to Lean In, and working hand in hand with global non-profit, Catalyst, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for women in business, the 30% Club is in fierce company, and poised to make a significant mark in boardrooms around the world.
Show Them the Money
At the end of the day, the bottom line for businesses interested in signing up for 30 Percent Club membership will be whether or not gender balance in the workplace makes a noticeable financial difference when it comes to improving, and augmenting, the bottom line. Brenda Trenowden, Head of the Financial Institutions Group for Europe and member of the 30% Club Steering Committee certainly has something to say on the subject.
In a profile released on Trenowden by QSB Magazine, “A Seat at the Table”, Trenowden insists that creating gender balance at all operating levels is good, nay great, for business and references the approach taken by the 30% club when addressing such concerns:
“The group has rejected imposed quotas, focusing instead on education, using research that has shown that a greater balance in gender at board and management levels helps improve financial performance. The group also cites findings that institutional investors are increasingly considering overall board effectiveness, including gender balance, as an important aspect of good governance.”
Learn more about the 30% Club initiative on their website at 30percentclub.org.