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#Balanceforbetter is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue

07 March 19

#Balanceforbetter is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue

This year I’m proud to be helping organise International Women’s Day. The theme is #balanceforbetter, but what exactly does that mean?

For me, it’s about understanding what we can all do to help improve the gender and diversity balance in our workplace. The benefits of doing this are really huge, no matter what your gender. In fact, great gender balance and equality has been shown to improve the quality of life for men too[1]. This by its self is a good enough reason to make it a business priority. And the list doesn’t end there! Here are a few more of my favourite reasons why #balanceforbetter is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue:

Reason 1: It widens the talent pool

Imbalanced teams are missing out on the talents and abilities of half the population! Committing to #balanceforbetter incentivises us to spread the net wide when we recruit new people, and this can make a huge difference to productivity. It is also linked to employee engagement, as illustrated by a recent study[2], which analysed data from 50,000 managers around the word. They found that the engagement rate of employees in gender-balanced teams increased by an average of four percentage points over two years compared with an average of one percentage point for unbalanced teams. Furthermore, the wider the team’s diversity, the more we can learn from each other.

Reason 2: We can better understand our customers

Last year I witnessed Kate Davis, the Chief Operating Officer at Energy and Utility Skills, give a great speech on water industry demographics (see figure below). The crux of the matter was that the water industry as a whole isn’t all that representative of the communities that we supply. Energy and Utility Skills point out that by attracting and hiring a more diverse workforce, we can mirror and speak to our communities[3]. This is so true! One of our biggest future challenges at Affinity Water will be to influence customers to be far more water efficient. We can make this easier for ourselves by creating the culture that we need to attract the workforce of tomorrow; a balanced workforce who understand and represent all the communities that we serve.

Reason 3: It’s required to attract the brightest talent

Hiring talented people can be tricky, especially in the South East where there are many competitors. We know that millennials in the workplace think that gender equality is more important than previous generations, and it is now becoming apparent that a key differentiator for millennials (and for many others) is company commitment to gender equality[4]. Published information, such as gender pay gap statistics, as well as our values and culture and becoming increasingly important.

- Rebecca Carlisle

 


[1] Gender equality gives me better lives: http://sciencenordic.com/gender-equality-gives-men-better-lives

[2] Gender Balance and the Link to Performance: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/leadership/gender-balance-and-the-link-to-performance

[3] The Sector’s Inclusion Commitment: https://www.euskills.co.uk/the-sectors-inclusion-commitment/

[4] Why investing in gender equality is crucial for your company’s future: https://www.inc.com/shama-hyder/why-investing-in-gender-equality-is-crucial-for-your-businesss-future.html

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