Using our voices to make real change

Using our voices to make real change

We all know we are in troubled times, which is why it is more important than ever to together identify what can help us achieve change. This month I share with you an important piece from the 30% Club Ireland on the impact and importance of balance representation of women on boards. Having a balance of both men and women at an executive level (or any level for that matter) is critical to ensure fair and robust decisions are made in all elements of business and society. I also share with you a piece from the Consortium for Street Children which highlights how not-for-profits can have the biggest impact and provides best practice guidance in identifying real solutions to global problems.

This month we have also seen and heard some powerful words from some very inspiring individuals. In particular when Greta Thunberg addressed the UN assembly, a moment that called for global leaders to wake up and take real action before it’s too late. There are a lot of lessons to be learnt here and it is critical we continue to find ways to act faster and with the greatest impact.

Secondly, Michelle Williams used her platform as an Emmy Award winner to remind the world of the very real disparities that still exist between men and women in the workplace and what we are missing out on as a result. One of the most powerful statements that should remind all of us what is at stake -

“Because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it."

We do live in challenging times, but we must also be proud of all the individuals and organisations rising to these challenges, making changes, calling for action and above all else never giving up.

As usual I encourage you to share, discuss and please let me know if there is anything you would like to bring attention to on this platform.

Best,

Baroness Goudie

Balance for Better Business

Anne-Marie Taylor, 30% Club Ireland

The launch of the Balance for Better Business report on 29 May 2019 was a major milestone for the 30% Club in Ireland.  The government-sponsored, business-led initiative called on Irish companies to rapidly address the low levels of female representation on their boards.  Specifically, in its first report, it set targets for women on the boards of publicly listed companies.  In the top 20 listed companies (ISEQ 20) only 20.9% are female, and in other listed companies the percentage is even worse, at 12.1%.  Balance for Better Business has set a target of at least 33% female directors for ISEQ 20 companies by the end of 2023, and at least 25% for all other Irish listed companies.

In addition, the group has set interim targets for each year so that companies can measure their progress against concrete annual milestones. Shockingly, a third of all listed companies (15) still have all-male boards.  The group has also set a target that by the end of 2019, no listed company should have an all-male board.

The overall recommendations from the review group were that:

1.     Boards should develop an action plan to achieve the targets.

2.     Boards should broaden their search for potential directors. This recommendation included an encouragement to commit to the Executive and Board Resourcing Code developed by the 30% Club Ireland and Ibec (Irish Business and Employers Confederation).

3.     All boards should apply the reporting requirements as set out by the Financial Reporting Council in the UK Corporate Governance Code.

4.     Key influencers should engage directly with boards to promote gender balanced leadership.

Balance for Better Business will monitor and report on progress against the targets.  The next report is due in November and will set targets for executive levels in listed companies, as well as director and executive levels in large private companies.

The group was set up by the Government in 2018 to make recommendations on how more women can be involved in decision-making at the top level of businesses in Ireland.  The power of the focus on introducing targets appears to have had the desired effect on some companies even in advance of the announcement of the actual targets.  Since the launch of the initiative, the number of all-male boards reduced from 19 to 15, and the representation of women increased by several percentage points.  However, as Brid Horan noted at the launch of the first report, “the momentum needs to accelerate and to be sustained for balance to be achieved, as Ireland has slipped further behind other EU member states in recent year. Business needs to address systematic deficits in culture, people development, selection and promotion processes and to create an environment for female participation at the highest levels, on boards and in executive leadership.”

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The report, which was launched by the Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure & Reform and the Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, received extensive and positive media coverage. 

The 30% Club is well represented on the initiative, with 30% Club founder member Brid Horan as co-chair with Gary Kennedy, 30% Club Advisory Chair.  Anne-Marie Taylor, 30% Club steering group member, is the Programme Director, and Carol Andrews, 30% Club Ireland Chair, is on the Review Group. 

If you would like any further information on this initiative please feel free to contact Anne-Marie Taylor (annemarietaylor1@gmail.com). You can download the report here, or access the Balance for Better Business website here.

Photo from the launch which includes Brid Horan, Gary Kennedy, Carol Andrews and Anne-Marie Taylor.

 

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Consortium for Street Children - Best Practice Representation 2019

Consortium Street Children

Consortium for Street Children is an international network looking to change the world for street children. The network brings together over 100 organisations, researchers and practitioners in 135 countries. Together, it is the top global source of grassroots evidence and technical expertise on street children. Chief Executive Caroline Ford tells The Parliamentary Review more about its ongoing work and how it plans to work with external bodies to enhance its impact.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. Despite near-universal commitment to its principles, invisible children often fall through the cracks. Street children in particular are, around the world, deprived of their most basic needs. They are reduced to labels: victims, criminals, vagrants, nuisances. Their lives do not always fit with the traditional notion that childhood should be innocent and carefree. Some take the view that street children need to be rescued – even against their will – and put into a home, while others think they are a problem that needs to be solved through law and order measures. Listen to street children themselves and you will hear a different perspective:

“ Respect us as human beings.”

“ We’re not asking for charity. I want to become someone to fend for myself.”

“Give us the opportunity to change our story.”

Our belief is that not enough is being done to give street children the protection and opportunities that they are owed. To make a difference, we need co-ordinated action from governments, civil society, businesses, donors, media and the public. We are working to drive that action through advocacy, research and movement-building.

Read more

Nature Now - What you do counts

There is a natural solution to the climate breakdown: protecting forests. Climate activist Greta Thunberg and writer and climate activist George Monbiot explain.

“Because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it."

Michelle Williams, Emmys 2019

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“The next time a woman, and especially a woman of color – because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white, male counterpart – tells you what she needs in order to do her job: Listen to her. Believe her. Because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it."

Witch Hunting Requires An International Response - A Guest Blog from the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN)

Witch Hunting Requires An International Response - A Guest Blog from the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN)