Today over 300 of Northern Ireland’s business leaders attended the second annual Chair’s Lunch at the Europa Hotel where Women in Business Chair, Imelda McMillan from O’Reilly Stewart solicitors launched the Gender Diversity Charter Mark Northern Ireland.
Introduced by Women in Business, with support from male gender diversity champions John Healy, Allstate, Ray Hutchinson, Gilbert Ash, David Gavaghan, The Aurora Fund, David Sterling NIE, and Professor James McElnay, QUB, the Gender Diversity Charter Mark NI is the first of its kind and enables organisations to apply for a Charter Mark which will recognise their commitment to and progress on gender diversity.
Businesses that sign up to the Charter will commit to advancing gender diversity by addressing areas of unequal gender representation at all levels; removing obstacles faced by women at key points of career development; implementing structural and cultural changes that help advance gender diversity; and putting in place a strategy and action plan to effect change.
Imelda explained the evolution of the Charter, “Women in Business is committed to creating a new economy in NI, one based on inclusive growth. Gender diversity in the workplace will encourage this growth and the Charter will support this by ensuring that organisations at the very highest level have embraced this cultural shift.
“In 2016 Women in Business launched its first manifesto, with one of our four main pillars being Diversity. Under this pillar we appointed male gender diversity champions who. with Women in Business. have gone on a journey to deliver the Gender Diversity Charter Mark that was also called for in the Manifesto.
“The Charter enables organisations to identify and reflect on institutional barriers facing women that impact their career progression. By doing so the Charter will also progress the overall diversity agenda and the working environment of all employees.
“Now more than ever, with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the collapse of the devolved institutions and the gender pay gap, the voice of Northern Ireland’s people and businesses must be heard. It is imperative that local politicians work together with Dublin, London and Brussels as well as other devolved regions and that the Business community work collectively to communicate their concerns and promote change.”
Imelda concluded with a call to action for businesses across Northern Ireland, “I would really encourage local organisations to sign up to the Charter and join Women in Business’s commitment to create a new economy. Without benefiting from the rich variety of talent and abilities of all employees, organisations cannot reach their full potential.”
John Healy, managing director at Allstate and one of the champions behind the Charter commented, “Allstate is delighted to be champions for this milestone agreement- Gender Diversity Charter Mark NI. Allstate’s commitment to this country-wide initiative is an extension of the company’s own Gender Diversity pledge, aimed at addressing the gender gap in the technology industry through our Women in Technology group (WITA)”
A panel of key Northern Ireland business leaders including Suzanne Wylie, Belfast City Council; Jackie Henry, Deloitte; David Sterling, NI Civil Service; and John Healy, Allstate discussed their support for the Charter Mark and explained why other organisations should support the initiative.
The event, which is the second annual Chair’s Lunch was sponsored by Stewart Title, one of the UK’s leading property indemnity insurance companies. The occasion offered a unique opportunity to empower, inspire and connect some of Northern Ireland’s most innovative and inspiring business women.
Organisations can sign up to the Charter at www.chartermarkni.org.