What does the Group currently look like in terms of its senior women?
Our goal for total women representation in the company, which is currently around 25-26%, we want to get it beyond 30% by 2025. Coincidentally our horizon of planning is also 2025 just like 25×25. Our [goal for] women representation at board, Exco and Exco-1 levels is 40%. At the board level, we’re already above 40% and we plan to maintain it that way. At the Exco level we are way below that. But I can see a very clear path through our succession planning process on how we are going to get that, [increasing from] 13% to 40%, and I’m confident that we can get there by 2025.
What are the main challenges on gender-balance the Group is facing?
We need people with an engineering background that understand the physics and the engineering side of life but are able to convert that into a solution for our customers: how do we use our products, technologies, services, to improve our customers’ operating performance.
And therefore, you need to be able to blend the technical knowledge, hence the need for an engineering background, with the commercial aspirations to understand what the requirements are for those customers and then find the right solutions for that. And so, we looked to develop our talent pool, male and female, along those lines.
And we need to accelerate female talent into those commercial roles, which today are below the average of other women representation across the Group.
Is location a challenge?
Yes, it is a problem that we face.
I think after Covid we’ve all really learned how to work in a more hybrid environment. And so, one of the things that we are taking from that learning experience is trying not to be so rigid as to where the location of that person has to be, or the amount of days that that person needs to be in the main location.
And we have flexed, and we’ve been able to attract some [people]. Just very recently, a very talented PhD who actually lives in Glasgow, but her job is based out here in Cheltenham. And I think if it was in the pre-Covid days, we wouldn’t have accommodated that. And I think that’s a great eye-opener for us of how we need to be able to create the conditions, so that the talent that we’re looking for can come to our company and be flexible around location [and also be] flexible about their personal circumstances.
What are the main pathways to CEO in the Group?
The CEO doesn’t have to come from a line of business and could be very easily come from one of the functional lines. The business model requires a good understanding of engineering, and the scientific and the commercial application of those technologies. Therefore, historically, myself and all my predecessors that have been in the role of CEO have come from a line of business background, or at least spent most of their careers in line of business, even if they started off in a function.
So we’ve got to accelerate the path for women in commercial leadership roles so that we can broaden the base of talent that can one day be sitting in my chair.
Why has the Group joined 25×25?
I have two strong beliefs that motivate me and drive me on this journey. One is an ethical belief; another one is a business belief. The ethical belief resonates from the fact that I was brought up to believe that any form of discrimination is wrong. And because I’ve had a very international life and I’ve lived in so many countries I have seen ample examples of discrimination, conscious or unconscious in multiple different ways.
And therefore, I am viscerally, personally, against any kind of discrimination and we should therefore work very strongly in any opportunity that we have to combat and correct any form of discrimination. The second strong belief is that discrimination is bad for business because it doesn’t allow you to capture the best talent.
And so, therefore, if we can have a more inclusive organisation, we will have the opportunity to attract and develop the best talent and that will ultimately be better for business.