What We’re Doing to Change Things

Business culture will change only through action, not just words or good intentions.

The 30% Club runs a number of very specific and targeted initiatives that look to broaden the pipeline of women at all levels, from “schoolroom to boardroom”:

We are developing a database of female leaders in business, finance and the not-for-profit sectors who are available for media comment on topics of the day, as well as ‘women’s issues’. The database will connect journalists to these spokespeople via our online database and the aim to is raise female profiles and visibility within the media and beyond.

We run a cross-company mentoring scheme aimed at mid-career women who have been identified as high potential but may be in danger of not making the next step up to senior level.

We partner with Henley, Oxford SAÏD and London Business Schools to offer 3 fully-funded 30% Club scholarships on Executive MBA courses. This scholarship programme is aimed at women in leadership positions with C-Suite potential and is part of a growing 30% Club initiative to increase the progression of women to senior executive positions by encouraging more females to undertake academic professional development. Current research indicates a much higher proportion of men participate in business school-led programmes; the 30% Club aims to address this imbalance.

We run a Career Strategy initiative aimed at providing practical workshops to early-career women, helping them to tackle topics that are often difficult to raise in the workplace (career advancement, maternity issues, flexible working, negotiating pay rises, etc.)

We have recently set up a Higher Education working group 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.

We are currently piloting a student survey at Cambridge University that aims drill down on student aspirations and to establish whether women’s experiences at university affect their motivation and ability to get ahead. Subject to findings, the survey will be rolled out to other universities later in 2015.

The 30% Club is collaborating with Speakers for Schools, an independent charity that organises free talks by inspirational speakers, including business leaders, for state secondary schools and colleges. January has seen a special board focus with speakers delivering a series of talks on the theme of ‘Equality Across the Board’ that aim to encourage girls to see their potential in leadership positions. A host of leading industry figures have 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. Click here to see our launch video.

More broadly the 30% Club is also working to bring about real transformation by:

  • Encouraging and supporting chairmen to appoint more women to their boards.
  • Providing information and help for businesses trying to improve their diversity at all levels. There are two ‘pipeline’ groups within the 30% Club, aimed at sharing innovations that work and devising new collaborative actions. These two groups are the ‘Professional Services Firms Pipeline Group’ and the ‘Balancing the Pyramid Project Group’, aimed at corporates.
  • Working with other related groups such as the Professional Boards Forum, the Women’s Business Council and the Mentoring Foundation. We believe that collective, concerted effort can achieve much more than individual initiatives and are ‘open source’ in our approach. We are driven by our objective, rather than by any ‘ownership’ of the issue.
  • Keeping the spotlight on the issue through our ongoing role in the public debate, on TV and radio and through social media. Focused activities aimed at influencing policy-makers through, for example, consultation responses, providing oral evidence to select committees and close alignment with the Davies Committee.
  • Staging large-scale events (free of charge to attendees) to develop momentum and to evolve thinking around the issue (‘Action Beyond Words’, Cass Business School, July 2011; Investors’ Seminar, February 2012; launch of Cranfield research (instigated by Equality and Human Rights Commission) into Executive Search firms’ role in May 2012; ‘Transforming Business Culture’ seminar at the London Stock Exchange, November 2012; Professional Services Firms Pipeline Project outcomes at Linklaters, December 2012; ‘Accelerator Steps towards Developing Female Talent’, Bloomberg, April 2013;  ‘Creating Effective Boards Seminar’, October 2014).
  • Ongoing focused activity around a number of areas: Investors’ Group (comprising 23 leading institutional investment firms with assets under management totalling c. £6trn); Professional Services Firms’ Pipeline Group; Balancing the Pyramid (pipeline effort with corporates); International Development; Events; and Social Media.
  • Providing strategic advice to groups overseas.
  • Speaking at schools, universities and international women’s events.
  • Tracking progress towards the 30% target.

A Steering Committee oversees the overall development of the 30% Club. A group of five senior chairmen form an Advisory Group to provide advice and help recruit other chairmen.