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Women in the boardroom its not a numbers game

Women in the boardroom – it’s not a numbers game

As the EU commission defends proposals for 40% of non-executive board members to be female, an Ochre House think tank reveals that perhaps, as Angela Ahrendts stated recently, quotas are not the way forward. 

According to the leading global partner in RPO and talent management, HR professionals can instead address the diversity agenda, including gender imbalance, by helping business decision makers experience exclusivity.

In its latest HR Network event, Ochre House brought together senior HRDs and business leaders from global organisations including Google, Virgin Media, BP, BBC Worldwide, Microsoft, Shell, Nokia and GE Energy, to explore how to overcome the diversity barriers.

The group concluded that in order to create opportunities for a truly diverse workforce, the issue of engagement and exclusivity needs to be addressed. While diversity numbers can easily be built into business strategies, the impact will be minimal if the workforce is not engaged. 

According to Sue Brooks, Managing Director of Ochre House, “To truly reach a point where diversity is built into an organisation’s framework and staff at all levels are fully engaged in the process, there will undoubtedly need to be a cultural change within a company. To do this, HR professionals need to get senior decision makers on board by helping them emotionally experience the effect exclusion can have on employees.”

In one powerful example which was shared with the group, a senior female HR professional explained how she took two male colleagues along to a conference aimed at helping women get ahead in their career. Confronted with a room full of the opposite gender, both individuals expressed their nervousness around being singled out and isolated. Only following this experience could these business decision makers really get to grips with how a lack of diversity and inclusion can affect individuals, the workforce and ultimately, commercial performance.

“It’s clear from examples like these that through the correct approach, and by making the most of the tools and advocates available, HR professionals can really challenge current thinking and drive diversity.” Sue continued. “And by helping business leaders to experience exclusivity through sharing best practice examples within the HR community we will all have access to the tools and ideas to really drive the message home.”

A whitepaper outlining the discussions from the think tank is available at


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