Taking place on October 14th, the Great British Businesswoman Forum celebrates and inspires women in business across the United Kingdom.
The live streaming experience comprises a day of exclusive webinars exploring the challenges that women in enterprise face today, and offering practical guidance to support the next generation of female business leaders.
Kathryn Jacob will be among the experts offering their insight at the Great British Businesswoman Forum.
In previous roles, Kathryn has worked in national newspapers, magazines, radio and in a cross-media role at Scottish Media Group. As well as having the opportunity to watch films for a living, Kathryn sits on the Development Board of RADA, the Board of AOC Sport (which offers sport opportunities to college students), the Council and Board of the Advertising Association and the Executive Council of SAWA.
The Kathryn co-authored with Sue Unerman, “The Glass Wall” was published in 2016. In October 2020, Sue and Kathryn joined forces with Sunday Times journalist Mark Edwards to write “Belonging: The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work” (Bloomsbury, 2020) which Esquire labelled “the most important business book of the year”.
Prior to her appearance at the Great British Businesswomen Forum, we asked Kathryn about her role in supporting Diversity, Inclusion and Equality in the workplace.
Q) Could you sum up the current business landscape regarding Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at work and why it is problematic?
KJ: The current business landscape appears to be quite a lot of discussion and not much action around diversity and inclusion. This situation is problematic as it is ignoring the huge advantage having a truly diverse workforce brings (companies in McKinsey’s report show that those in the top quartile for gender diversity in executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.)
The report found that the greater the level of representation, the higher the likelihood of outperformance. By not being diverse, you’re limiting your growth prospects.
Q) Has COVID had an impact on this issue
KJ: The pandemic has upended businesses everywhere, with employees forced to adapt to new working styles. Reports of stress, exhaustion and burn-out are common. For women, homeschooling created a clash of work and home life that made managing both very difficult. For young people the opportunity to learn from colleagues has been impacted, slowing their progress and restricting their knowledge. Faced with uncertainty, companies have retrenched and cut training, recruitment and expansion.
Q) What are the primary motivation points for business leaders to be more proactive when it comes to improving Div/Inc & Equality at work?
KJ: The primary motivation points for business leaders are clear. You need to be reflective of the communities you serve, or you will cease to be relevant. In welcoming inclusion, you open your company up to a wider talent base and finally, it’s a basic business sense because it gives you a competitive advantage (see McKinsey references above).
Q) What main steps can leaders take to get on the right track?
KJ: Basic steps are to analyse your workforce and see what the picture is across the company. You can only make progress and measure your achievements if you know where you start from.
Analyse your recruitment process, train your teams and empower them. Allow your colleagues to lead from every seat, rather than defer it to HR or a task force. Ensure that your people feel that they belong and that you value the variety of talents and capabilities this brings. And finally, enjoy the changes – you are leading your company to a better, kinder workplace!
Q) How does your book “belonging” break down the importance of DEI and help readers understand how best to address this crucial issue?
KJ: The book helps because it contains real-life stories and experiences, good and bad, to help you navigate the issue. We also have pragmatic and practical exercises that will help you. Also, it’s in manageable chunks, so you can take it at your own pace.
Kathryn will be participating in our panel debate: “Belonging: the key to transforming and maintaining diversity, inclusion and equality at work”.
Also on the panel:
Sue Unerman, Chief Transformation Officer, MediaCom
Mark Edwards, Coach, Journalist & Author
Date: October 14