It was tough, but women from all over the region somehow managed to leave their flat caps and whippets at home for the Northern Power Women Conference 2015 and show the world a thing or two about being fabulously female, friendly and from up north.
From where I’m standing, as a business journalist and someone who helps to raise the profile of expert women, there’s still a lot of work to be done. The figures don’t look good for women when it comes to getting to the top, despite doing well at school and entering the workplace in equal numbers to our male counterparts: we get stuck at middle management, or we leave to set up on our own. And it beggars belief that although we’ve got self-adhesive stamps and have put a man on the moon, we still don’t get paid the same as men.
The harsh fact is the workplace just isn’t working for women.
But this is not just bad news for women, it’s bad for business. Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds are tipped to be the so-called ‘super cities’ in a northern powerhouse, and currently devolution talk is rife at local government – so now is the time to grasp the diversity nettle for the benefit of everyone.
NPW2015’s tenacious organiser, Simone Roche, set the objective to bring the diversity conversation to the north – and she succeeded. Regardless of where you are, or where you want to be, in your career there was something for everyone at this conference.
I’ve distilled the best nuggets from the Leaders’ Debate in the morning, top tips for women and businesses alike, so they can make it happen and “get on with it, luv”…
FOR NORTHERN POWER WOMEN:
Yes you can have it all.
Work out what success means for you.
If you feel guilt, get over it.
Ditch that crappy partner who doesn’t support you.
Do one thing for another woman every day of the year.
Know the difference between mentor and sponsor: mentoring is helping someone in their job, sponsoring is helping someone get your job.
We need a childcare revolution, sometime soon would be good.
Push yourself forward.
FOR NORTHERN POWER BUSINESSES:
Women don’t always push themselves forward. Understand this.
Allow greater flexibility for women (who often have more responsibility outside of work, dontchooknow).
Men should mentor and sponsor women.
Inform your recruitment agency that diversity is your priority.
The business case for diversity has long been won. Dur.
Women’s networking groups engender confidence to help women become better leaders – so please support them.
Develop your managers properly, so they can take on diversity and implement it.
Ban banter – it’s un-inclusive and damaging (and often not very funny anyway).
And BTW, we need a childcare revolution.
Thank you to the panelists for their excellent contributions and inspiration – Debbie White (CEO, Sodexo), Karen Hubbard (COO, B&M Retail), Ali Gayward (UK Commercial Manager, easyJet) and Andrew Cornish (CEO, Liverpool John Lennon Airport).