NHSA Insider: NHSA Interim CEO on why women do belong in the boardroom

Interim CEO Nicola Wilson on the way in which women continue to be under-represented in the workplace

25th March 2019

Colleagues, I hope my blog finds you well.

Attending the Northern Power Women Awards in Manchester on March 18th inspired me to write this piece on the way in which women continue to be under-represented in the board room, in the lab and across diverse settings in general.

In his address to the audience at the awards, Metro Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham spoke passionately about how his opinion on gender politics had been shaped by having two daughters and wanting to ensure that he was contributing to a future in which they will receive equality of opportunity to that of their male counterparts, but there is still a long way to go and much more to do.

Research undertaken by McKinsey in 2016 resulted in a report “Women Matter 2016: Reinventing the workplace to unlock the potential of gender diversity”, findings of which revealed that to increase the number of women in senior management roles there had to be a step-change to address the disparity between the numbers of European women who undertake part-time and unpaid hours in comparison to their male peers.

Furthermore, from as long ago as 2010, McKinsey evidenced that companies across all sectors with the most women on their boards of directors significantly and consistently outperform those with no female representation – by 41% in terms of return on equity and by 56% in terms of operating results.

Sadly, there also persists a shortfall of women in STEM, particularly at senior management level. In her article “Women in Stem: Critical to Innovation”, Stephenie Foster identifies that “in the UK, women are underrepresented in STEM at every stage of the pipeline” starting with the low numbers of females undertaking STEM subject A levels.

Equality in life and health sciences benefits us all. To support women in the field in the build-up to International Women’s Day 2019, the NHSA again undertook our annual campaign #NorthInnovationWomen. We ask our followers on Twitter to use the hashtag to recognise the excellence of female innovators working across the North – this year receiving over 300 nominations of women working in diverse roles within health and life science innovation.

Indeed, role models such as Dr Liz Mear, CEO of the Innovation Agency and Dr Amanda Lamb COO of Connected Health Cities and many more made both the NHSA and Northern Power Women Lists.

Ultimately the Northern Power Women Awards and #NorthInnovationWomen campaign are still necessary because there is still a lack of diversity in senior management across the North and greater UK which damages us all.

I look forward to a time for my three-month-old granddaughter, and future women of her generation, to look forward to; studying and working in a world when neither campaign is needed and the diversity of senior management and across organisations reflects accurately the diversity of our society.

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