Today I set out three pledges to help encourage the women who work at REED.
One: I pledge to introduce talks, seminars and webinars once a quarter, which will be run by successful women, to encourage and inspire the women in the business.
Two: I pledge to grow and sustain a female mentoring system to provide the women who work at REED with a system of support and advice.
Three: I pledge that REED will seek to have women make up 50% of its senior leadership team over the next 3-5 years. They will be there because they are good at their jobs.
I would also encourage other business leaders to assess their organisations and take a look at whether there is more that they can be doing to support and promote their female colleagues.
The first person I showed these pledges to was Joan Edmunds. Joan is REED’s Legal Director. She has served on the REED board for over 30 years and is the company’s longest serving Director. This is what she said:
“One, great idea; two, great idea; three, great idea.”
Joan had this message for employers:
“When I started I was given a chance. I was thrown in at the deep end, I was left to sink or swim. I hope I swam. Businesses should take more of a punt on women. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
And she had this message for women:
“Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be afraid to let people know what your ambitions are. Don’t expect people to notice you just because you’re doing a good job. Women do face extra hurdles, and in my career I’ve had lots of slights and setbacks – I’ve needed to be resilient and to remember it’s not just because I’m a woman – men have slights and setbacks at work as well.”
We at REED will #PressForProgress and celebrate and champion the achievements of our female workforce. Everyone here has a commitment to support each other and acknowledge top talent to make sure we are the best we can be, regardless of gender or background.
I want REED to be an attractive company for capable and ambitious women to make their careers in. A company that strives to be the best clearly needs to attract, retain and promote the best.
This applies to Britain too. Our country cannot afford to side-line talent. We must encourage and ensure the full participation of women; it is a competitive imperative.