Behind the scenes of our Women in Leadership initiative
Hear from Bella about what we’re doing to develop a gender balanced workforce
In my new role as Director of Women in Leadership for Sky, building a business case hasn’t been high on my agenda. Why not? Because we know that diverse teams drive better business performance – we’ve read the research but more importantly, we’ve experienced it in the workplace
Today, over a third of our top 500 leaders are women – not half bad, but not ‘half ‘either. We want to go further by supercharging Sky’s talent and attracting great external talent. Over time, we want to move the gender balance to: a 50/50 split.
To do this, we’re taking a long term view. This isn’t something that we’re going to be able to achieve overnight, and nor should we try. If we just wanted to hit the number, that would be relatively straightforward, but if we want to drive business performance through this programme, that’s harder. We’re most definitely in the latter camp: after all, we’re not in the business of diversity; we’re interested in how diversity can drive performance. To put it bluntly, it’s not about employing and promoting more women, it’s about ensuring we’re creating a strong pool, a stronger pipeline and the strongest candidates for roles.
This isn’t something owned by me, despite my rather flashy title. It can’t be. To make this change happen, the business as a whole has to believe in it, own it, and push it through. Our Group CEO, Jeremy Darroch, is leading from the top, with the programme itself driven by Execs and their senior teams. My role, working closely with our People team, is to encourage, enable and support.
Our Women in Leadership Sponsorship & Development Programme will enable our best women to go further, faster. This 12 month programme provides our people with their own sponsor, who will advocate for them around the business, helping to identify and deliver new opportunities. They’ll also provide development sessions around self-belief and knowledge sessions on strategy and finance. Our pilot programme in Customer Service Group worked well and as a result we’re now extending it across new areas of the business. Around 40 women are taking part now, and we expect this to reach over 100 by next year.
We’re also looking at how we can better empower our people to work flexibly to get the job done. We’re supporting them with the right frameworks to manage key life events. For example our new shared parental leave scheme gives both parents more flexibility in how to share the care of their child in the first year. Parents choose how they wish to split their leave; both can be off work at the same time or at different times.
And we’re not stopping there. In order to make sure we’re attracting the best talent into Sky, we’re committed to providing balanced shortlists for vacancies within our top 500 leaders. This is all about levelling the playing field: taking the time required to scour the market and find the best talent for the role, the team and the business. It’s not easy to do, particularly in areas where there are a lack of skills, but it’s a crucial part of the mix. We’re also changing how we approach to the wider talent pool from the language we use, content of our recruitment materials and looking beyond our usual channels; this includes recent events for women in technology that you may have heard about. And, of course, we’re rolling out unconscious bias training to our managers too.
We know that creating the best performing, balanced leadership team will take time and commitment. But we also know it’s a no brainer: it generates better ideas, better decision making and better business outcomes. Why wouldn’t you?