This year we are marking 100 years since the Election that led to the first woman taking her seat in Parliament.
The last Parliament saw 206 female MPs, with five female leaders of parties represented in Westminster. More women than ever were standing in the 2019 General Election.
There is little doubt in my mind that, as women have become more represented in Parliament, female engagement in politics has increased.
Last week the BBC broadcast a fascinating online video about women, voting and politics. It found that women generally are more likely to be floating voters, undecided or last-minute decision makers. That’s why last-minute campaigning can be highly effective in reaching female voters.
The IoD has worked hard in recent times to diversify its leadership team and membership to reflect the significant role played by women in business. Positive role models are so important to inspire the next generation of business leaders.
The IoD has a female national chair, Charlotte Valeur. In Yorkshire and the North East, our vice-chair is Dr Joanna Berry of Durham University Business School. Across the region, we have a string of female Ambassadors representing different areas of business and we hold a regular Women on Board event.
It’s more important than ever that women’s views are fed back to our country’s decision makers. One way of doing that is though the IoD’s Policy Voice, which enables you to make your voice heard through monthly surveys on key business issues.
Launched in 2008 to help fulfil the terms of our Royal Charter, Policy Voice seeks IoD members’ opinions on the issues that matter to business leaders, including Brexit priorities, regulation, skills and the economy.
Our Policy Voice Ambassador for Yorkshire and North East is lawyer Rashmi Dubé, who is touring the region to bang the drum and drive engagement with Policy Voice.
We need to do more to encourage businesses of all shapes and sizes to be more inclusive. We recently took an Inclusive Business roadshow around the UK. This year, we appointed a Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador, Sharon Jandu, in West Yorkshire. As an organisation we are turning the spotlight on issues such as the gender pay gap and creating an inclusive workplace for parents and carers.
Just like the political world, the modern working world is evolving. We must bring down any remaining barriers that hinder women from fully realising their potential, whether as politicians, business leaders or any other walk of life.
This will be among the top agenda items for our incoming chair in Yorkshire and the North East. We are seeking applications following the appointment of former chair Jon Geldart as IoD Director General.
The successful applicant will oversee a newly created ‘super region’ covering Yorkshire and the North East, which encompasses six local branches.
This is an opportunity to be one of the premier voices within the Northern Powerhouse, a true champion for the region and business. The deadline for applications is 10 January. To find out more, contact [email protected]
Natalie Sykes, regional director, Institute of Directors