To mark International Women’s Day, our founder Ros reflects on gender balance in business

This week, it was reported that Scotland leads the way in the UK for gender balance in the workplace. The PwC ‘Women in Work Index’ report also found that women are highly represented in senior positions in Scotland.

This is great news for Scotland and women – and very topical too, with today being International Women’s Day. While progress in addressing gender balance is clearly being made, there is still much work to be done.

Stepping up

Recruitment is an area which can be improved. Head-hunters, for example, should be actively looking to have more wonderfully talented women on their books.

Through our Women As Leaders course, we encourage women to be proactive in putting themselves forward for recruitment to new roles.

Confidence is key; women need to step forward to recruiters and put themselves in the mix for higher positions. To do this, they need to become better risk takers, more comfortable with rejection and more persistent in their aims

Self-awareness

What we’ve learned from running Women As Leaders for over 15 years is that women are working extremely hard but that hard work is not enough.

Women need have that conversation with their line managers and make it clear that they want to be promoted to take the next step in their careers.

Of course it pays to be more self-aware in identifying your strengths then  demonstrating how they can help the business.

Promotion is not a right, you have to earn it – and it s all about the business not your agenda. These can be challenging but essential  conversations.

Take time to step back from your daily work and learn how to leverage your skills and experience to get noticed.

A good way of doing this is to volunteer for work no one else wants to do. With your existing workload this could be tough but if you succeed then promotion could be swift. If you work away unnoticed you will be treated like wallpaper- a backcloth taken for granted.

Identifying & developing talent

This week, it was also reported that many big brands are running marketing campaigns around the idea of strong inspiring females – yet their businesses lack gender balance.

There’s a sense that people love the idea of gender balance, but the reality is that the pace of change is slow. If you look at the percentages on boards, males still dominate.

Often, the argument is that ‘there aren’t enough women in the pipeline’ of a business to increase the balance on a board.

Is that really true? If so, then it’s important that steps are taken to identify talented women within a business and start developing and supporting them now.

To help this, men on boards should take on roles as mentors. Many do this already, but more should follow.

There is a lot to celebrate this International Women’s Day, but it’s time to make more changes.