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Business & Economy

North East leaders come together to discuss gender balance in the workplace

The GX Project and Invest Newcastle have teamed up with training and consultancy team 50:50 Future to share best practices and look at what measures businesses can take to achieve a more diverse workforce.

In an event held last week (September 26), North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll discussed the need to tackle unconscious bias at work and was followed by an expert panel of representatives from the region’s business community.

The event was open to all businesses who wanted to learn more about how to create an inclusive workplace culture.

Mayor Driscoll said: “Gender diversity isn’t just a HR issue, it’s about culture change and tackling unconscious bias. We need to be in a position when nobody even notices more men in leadership roles, there will just be a balance. The bottom line is workplaces work better when they are more diverse.”

The panel was chaired by Jamie Hardesty from Tech Nation and included speakers like Chris Higham of Virgin Money, Kate Horsfield of Home Group and Esther Gillespie from data science firm, Jumping Rivers.

The panel discussed the need to get the gender balance right but also how to ensure that the highest positions aren’t dominated by men.

Chris Higham, head of strategy and change (payments) at Virgin Money, said: “Affecting positive change in the workplace requires a shift in cultural norms, particularly around the roles and responsibilities of working parents.

“Mentorship and sponsorship within organisations for gender balance initiatives is fundamental to effect positive change.”

Gender balance is a subject that is increasingly becoming a priority for businesses. That’s why organisations like 50:50 are on a mission to help companies achieve gender equality by getting the balance right through specialist training and support.

“Lyndsey Britton, co-founder of 50:50, said: “When working with organisations, we help them view their challenges with a holistic approach.

“We know that everyone can create inclusion or exclusion and that’s why one-off interventions simply don’t work, this is not just an HR initiative or tick-box exercise.

“Creating an inclusive culture not only makes good business sense but ethically it is the right thing to do.”