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Working in the Birmingham business community, ChaplaincyPlus affirms women in leadership. Our network is keen that the extremely disappointing “reasons” that a range of FTSE Chairs and CEOs have given for not appointing women to FTSE company boards, which have made the news headlines this week, don’t have the last word.

ChaplaincyPlus Director Steve Bavington said: “It is a pleasure to work with women from across the business sector in Birmingham, and especially through our City Women network which gathers and supports women at all stages in their career. We seek to affirm the role of women at all levels in business, and indeed highly value the contribution of our own women trustees.”

Solicitor and City Women Leader, Sarah Thorpe said: “Week in, week out, I see so many women across the business community get on with leading teams and organisations positively – just doing it, not shouting about it.

“But when we hear some of the influential voices from FTSE 350 leaders with boards which under represent women unaware of what they are missing, it’s a moment when we need to speak out.

““Deeds not words” was the suffragettes’ motto, winning the vote for women one hundred years ago. Perhaps today we need both deeds and words, acknowledging women’s contribution in leadership across the business community and recognising this by our words.  In the words of one of the ChaplaincyPlus network, “More women in leadership? Yes please!”

In response, here are some constructive voices from women and men across our network of professionals in all sectors, giving an array of “Good Reasons for Appointing Women Executives”!

I affirm women as leaders, just as I affirm women as doctors, barristers, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, soldiers, athletes, children, grandparents and friends.  Leadership is a verb, not a noun, an activity, not a title and hence gender, race, colour or creed is not and should not be a barrier.

As an MD and FD of a business I would definitely affirm that women have a place in business leadership. We are used to juggling the home, the family and work and so have a multi-faceted skill set that enables us to focus on each task, prioritise and see each one through to its conclusion.

God makes men and women but he also makes personalities and characters – each is unique and different and he calls them to flourish – many women flourish in using their leadership gifts, bringing clarity and inspiration to teams.

I affirm the valuable insight and expertise of women in business leadership and support inclusivity and diversity at all levels of management. I support the need for cultural change in the business community to promote and value the role of women and minorities.

Women make great leaders in business and I affirm them in that context.

Our latest appointment is a women to run one of our companies as managing director. Her project knowledge and management skills have already made a major impact on extending our range of products and profitability.

Women are high achievers at school and university. If the gender make-up of a board doesn’t reflect the intelligence of women, it suggests the company has only been drawing on half of its talent pool. Where’s the business sense in that?

I affirm women in business leadership because we need inclusive, collaborative leadership which gives space for all to flourish, harnessing into whole diverse range of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual energy that we bring to work and to life.

Experienced women make excellent mentors. Women in leadership develop and inspire others.

I affirm women in business leadership because, based on my own experiences, I’ve found women are likely to attach significant importance to those qualities which should be associated with leadership: insight, listening and emotional literacy with the ability to ‘read’ those factors which either support or hinder growth and development at an individual and organisational level. More women in leadership? Yes please!

I’ve had experience of working with some superb women managers and leaders. I coordinated a team of business and management consultants and my boss was an excellent and talented woman; working as an executive trainer my boss was a strong, decisive and inspiring woman, who continued to lead us through success to success; and a woman Chief Exec I worked with in another role was one of the most effective and inspiring leaders I have ever known. In each case, I knew that our company was in safe hands.

I affirm that women in business/leadership truly appreciate the sacrifice that is made to work in business and as a leader – you cannot have it all without some sacrifice.

I affirm women in leadership because they are the force to tackle the difficult but important topics, in order to create meaningful and lasting change that will be in place in years to come. When we harness the power of women who take on leadership, then the world changes – the #metoo movement , the voices against Weinstein, the student demonstrations against gun freedoms in the US – all started by women. Even our own WI moment has been instrumental in reducing plastic usage by lobbying for the 5p charge on carrier bags!

I affirm that women in business/leadership are key to encouraging other females to aspire to be leaders and game changers in our society.

I affirm that women in leadership are competent and capable – my fellow charity trustee headed the Board’s Finance Committee before successfully being elected to chair. She is respected by the entire Board and staff team and the charity continues to make a huge difference to individuals and communities across the West Midlands.

I affirm that women in business/leadership have great organisational skills as they often split their time and attention between home and work responsibilities.  Numerous surveys still show that women take a greater part in domestic and caring duties even when both members of a couple are working.  Women also bring a valuable viewpoint in business as they have a different sociological experience to men and represent the other half of the population.  They often have a deep understanding of clients and customers who may also be female.  Women share parts of their life experience with each other, including how to work in a man’s world.  More purchasing decisions are being made by women every year as the balance starts to shift.  Is your business ready?  Flexibility and openness are key business factors in this harder economic climate. Promotion should be based on merit and potential, not just experience or “fit”.  Women may not look or sound the same but how do you know they are not better?

I affirm women in leadership and in the boardroom because there are many women with excellent credentials and a wide range of business skills and experience, blended with wisdom, to make clear decisions on complex issues. I know women who are excellent role models for men and women, modelling great service and leadership.  We need leadership perspectives from both genders and across a wide range of races and cultures to promote the respect, well-being and integrity of all.

I affirm that women in business and leadership provide an alternative perspective within discussions that help provide solutions that men, left to their own devices, would be unable to find.

Women leaders are interested in everyone’s views, not just those of the person who shouted loudest. This is much more likely to prevent “group think” which has led to some of the more serious errors of judgement in corporate life.  Also, women leaders understand that women at work, especially those with families, are good at what they do because of their other responsibilities not in spite of them – that the ability to juggle complex arrangements and needs, to take account of multiple view points and to respond rapidly to the varied demands of others are key skills which are useful, indeed vital to getting most jobs done well: women have these skills in abundance.

Girls have been performing extremely strongly at school for years; these girls grow up to become women.

I affirm women in leadership – we are all unique individuals with our own life experiences, history and skill sets. It does not matter whether you are a man or woman, if you have something to contribute and are willing to share, learn and develop, you can make a difference at the leadership/board table. The wider the mix of skills and experiences, the richer the development of companies and society will be.

I spend a fair bit of time training people in the workplace to be better listeners; an Asian woman on one of my courses recently commented to me, “I have this bad habit of talking over people – I learned it in boardrooms where it was the only way to get your voice heard.” Boardroom culture needs to change so that good empathic listeners (often women) who refuse to talk over others can actually have their voices heard.

ChaplaincyPlus is a Christian presence in the Birmingham business community, affirming the value of each and every person, with their unique perspective and contribution: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). This applies to business leadership as well as to the whole of life.