“Anything that supports equality in the workplace can only be a good thing – both for women and business itself,” Kathryn Riley, Founder and Managing Director of legal recruitment experts, Douglas Scott, adds. “Women and men are equally talented, but if females aren’t supported in reaching and realising their full capabilities, businesses could risk losing untapped potential from right under their noses.” She’s hopeful that such hiring drives will further progress towards empowering women who perhaps have the skillset but lack the confidence.
Others within the executive search space, however, whilst not against diversity targets, believe companies can’t ignore the cultural setbacks that leave women out of the top tiers. Suki Sandhu, Founder & CEO, Audeliss & Involve – an executive search firm that specialises in diversity – believes that inclusion needs to be built into a firms’ culture to truly succeed. “On top of recruiting from a diverse pool they [employers] need to be reviewing diversity at every level of the business and tracking staff retention, taking active steps to address any shortcomings,” he says.
Whilst quotas aren’t ideal, with the danger being firms could lose sight of what skills are needed to support the business, at least it’s a remedy of sorts. It forces those in executive search to be more conscious of where they fish for female talent. Kathleen Saxton, Founder of Executive Search firm, The Lighthouse Company told Digiday that she enjoys when her clients give her shortlists to meet criteria, because they “make us look harder and be more conscious of the differentiation on those shortlists.”
Hopefully, through this push, the top of British businesses will no longer be a men-only members club. And if you’re still disillusioned by quotas, think of the flipside: if there’s no effort to bring women into the workplace - armed with the potential gusto to re-design organisational culture for the better – we’ll be seeing dismal numbers of female leaders in years to come. And do we really need to be having this conversation in ten years’ time?