Tackling Female Executive Progress

We have long argued that balancing the pyramid of women is the true key to sustainable change, and it is no secret that it continues to be an issue for business. It remains an issue because there is no single identifiable reason behind the lack of a strong pipeline of senior women, which makes a ‘one-size fits all’ solution near impossible. Sociological, biological and cultural factors are all at play, as are traditional business practices, which are often in need of modernisation.

Creating a better gender balance at all levels of a company requires a sustained, concerted series of efforts, and it was with this in mind that we launched the 30% Club cross-company mentoring pilot in September 2013, in conjunction with EY.

The objective of the pilot was to offer and facilitate a cross-company, cross-sector mentoring programme to complement existing schemes in the UK and within individual organisations. Intended to address the issue of scalability in mentoring, this new initiative was the first step in creating a ‘village’ of networking opportunities, leveraging technology with the ultimate objective of reaching hundreds rather than tens of women as is the case with many current mentoring programmes.

The success of this pilot has enabled us to take another step towards tackling female executive progress, and formally launch the programme. As of September 2014, hundreds of talented mid-career women across a variety of organisations will be able to benefit from cross-company mentoring – an opportunity that until now has been reserved for senior executives.

This approach brings with it the potential to really broaden the female talent coming through participating organisations. By identifying the pivot points in each organisation where career paths diverge, we hope that the programme, and the positive experience for both mentors and mentees, will result in a step change to the number of women attaining senior leadership roles in their respective organisations. Concerted efforts to tackle female executive progress will ensure that we get more women not just into business, but staying in business and reaching the top. Only then will we achieve meaningful and sustainable change.