30% Club partners with Speakers for Schools to launch ‘Equality across the Board’ initiative

FROM 30% CLUB At a seminar in London ‘#30pctalent’, hosted by BNY Mellon, the 30% Club set out the next steps for accelerating change towards better gender balance by turning the attention to nurturing young female talent from ‘schoolroom to boardroom’. This was the 30% Club’s first seminar focused on pre-work and early careers, aiming to fill gaps where no programme exists as the 30% Club tries to develop a continuum of accelerated change.

The 30% Club’s new partnership with Speakers for Schools, an independent charity that organises free talks by inspirational speakers, including business leaders, for state secondary schools and colleges, was announced at the event. For two weeks in January there will be a special board focus when speakers will deliver a series of talks on the theme of ‘Equality Across the Board’ that will aim to encourage girls to see their potential in leadership positions. A host of leading industry figures have already committed to give these talks, including: Sir Roger Carr, Chairman of BAE Systems; Sir Peter Gershon, Chairman of Tate & Lyle; Robert Swannell, Chairman of Marks & Spencer; Ian Powell, Chairman of PwC; Steven Lovegrove, Permanent Secretary for DECC; Sir John Parker, Chairman of Anglo American PLC and Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management. To date, nineteen speakers have confirmed their interest in supporting Speakers for Schools.

Emma Howard Boyd, Steering Committee Member of the 30% Club commented: “The 30% Club has traditionally focussed on women who have already reached a reasonably senior level in the workforce. This changed last year, when we began working with early and mid-career women, and we are now building on this to target sixth form students. We hope that by collaborating with Speakers for Schools, the 30% Club will help encourage students to aspire to reach their full potential and increase their confidence, which will serve them well as they enter the world of work.”

Nicky Morgan MP, Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities said:  “Girls and women should be supported from the outset of their careers and feel that all paths are open to them. Businesses perform better when they value diversity and the different experiences that women can bring. I would like to thank the 30% Club for the work that they do in this area and we will continue to work together to support women at all levels of their careers.”

Robert Peston, BBC Economics Editor and founder of Speakers for Schools said: “It is vitally important both that young women aim for the top, including sitting on the boards of our biggest businesses, and that young men understand how pernicious it is that women are so under-represented among those who run our most important and powerful institutions. The cost to the economy – to us – of female talent being squandered is huge. Which is why Speakers for Schools is so thrilled to be in partnership with the 30% Club to make sure young people understand they should not tolerate any barriers to their success based on gender”.

The winners of two separate Scholarships, offered in association with the 30% Club,were announced at the event. The first, the new LBS Senior Executive Programme Scholarship, was awarded to two women, Andreea Moldova, General Manager (Czech Republic and Slovakia) at Avon Cosmetics and Yasmin Becker, Assistant Director at the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Arefe Khosravi, a trader at TMT Metals AG was awarded the Oxford Executive MBA Scholarship for Women from Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford.

Delegates were also updated on the objectives of the 30% Club’s Higher Education Working Group, co-chaired by Elizabeth Passey and Anne Richards, and recently set up to look at diversity in universities and higher education establishments and to encourage a pooling of ideas across both the corporate and the higher education sectors to reduce the gender gap across governing bodies and faculties, as well as to analyse and act to improve the experiences of female students. The work of the Career Strategy Group for young women was also detailed, and two surveys were discussed; the Girls Attitudes Survey from the Girl Guides and a forthcoming survey into student ambitions being piloted at Cambridge University.

Helena Eccles, Founder, The Student Ambitions Survey added: “The challenges women face in the workplace are being addressed but there is a pressing need for action in the student domain. The Student Ambitions Survey will provide us with the information necessary to make women’s transition from student to corporate life as smooth as possible.”

Helena Morrissey, CBE, CEO of Newton Investment Management and Founder of the 30% Club concluded: “The themes from today’s seminar are clear; there is a growing realisation that efforts to develop female talent need to start well before corporate life. Schools, universities and business schools all have a part to play in developing equality across the board; nurturing girls’ skills beyond academic success and encouraging an environment where everyone fulfils their potential. We are proud to have reached some important goals this year, including our ongoing partnership with business schools around the country and our new collaboration with Speakers for Schools. But now is not the time to rest on our laurels: 2015 will see bigger and better things.”

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