Take steps to make sure talent is not overlooked overlooked

‘Women on top’ was the theme of this month’s HR Directors Club briefing, held at Warwick Castle with guest speaker Edwina Currie. She entertained Club members with feisty tales about her fight for equality in the late 1960s when women’s rights were unheard of. And she shared some anecdotes from her time in government when she was health minister under Margaret Thatcher’s regime.

Her argument was that Thatcher – who gave all the cabinet posts to men – did nothing to help women. Some women on the backbenches got frustrated about being passed over for the top jobs and left politics to do something else. Translate this into a business context, and companies which overlook their talented female employees are running the risk of creating a competitor if those women choose to set up on their own. That should be talent working for you, not against you, argued Currie.

Much has moved on since Currie’s battles with her bosses. Some might say things have moved on too far, particularly if you consider Patricia Hewitt’s discriminatory decision to appoint a woman to an influential job over a better-qualified male candidate (go to www.personneltoday.com/32124.article).

But perhaps things haven’t moved on far enough. New reports show that only 74% of organisations are investing in gender equality, 90% in race – and a shockingly low 43% in disability (see www.personneltoday.com/32122.article.

Organisations should take steps to ensure they don’t exclude potential talent or overlook the talent they have. To do otherwise is a waste of human resources.

For more on Edwina Currie go to www.personneltoday.com/32121.article.

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