Gender equality – what we’re doing at Marshalls to redress the balance

Monday 19th October, 2020

In her role as Talent Director, Lisa Villers is passionate about improving diversity at Marshalls. In this article she explains why gender equality is so important and the steps we are taking as a business to improve the balance.

The manufacturing industry has an average ratio of 75% male/25% female and Marshalls is reflective of that. But whilst this might be acceptable for our sector, we want to create a better balance at Marshalls because we truly believe that diversity is the key to future success. We recognise and appreciate the value that diverse backgrounds and persprectives bring to the workplace.

Over the past few years we’ve done work to attract and retain talent that is as diverse as the country in which we live and we’ve also improved the make up of our Board. But there is still more to do on this, which is why we’ve been taking big steps towards a more balanced future.

Understanding our gender quality performance

This year we’re participating in the UN Global Compact Target for Gender Equality to help us understand our current gender equality performance through the use of the Women’s Empowerment Principles Gender Gap Analysis Tool (WEPs Tool). This is a business-driven tool designed to help companies from around the world assess gender equality performance across the workplace, marketplace, and community.

The evidence is clear: gender equality is critical to business performance and sustainable economic growth globally. Unleashing the full potential of women and girls could add more than $12 trillion dollars to global GDP, drive significant positive impacts on business productivity and the bottom line, and support families and communities around the world. The implications of inaction on gender equality have a negative impact on economic growth and business success, not to mention the UNGC’s Global Goals and our shared goals on matters such as climate change, decent work, and health, if the talents, skills, and innovation of women continue to be undervalued.

Making improvements

It's time to take action: after completing the WEPs questionnaire, Marshalls has been rated as an ‘Improver’. There’s plenty of work to do and we’re working with the UNCG on an action plan to set targets that impact leadership commitment, workplace policies, marketing strategies, procurement practices and our contribution to the community. We’re one of 17 organisations in the UK UNGC who are participating in the programme, all spanning different sectors and industries.

Our Chair’s perspective

At Marshalls we’re proud to have a female Chair of the Board in Vanda Murray OBE, who plays a pivotal role in our development in this area. In an article written in 2019, Vanda says “we are already seeing more sharing of our talented women for progression and development opportunities and real improvement in internal mobility.” The full article can be found on the website of the Hampton-Alexander Review, which is an independent review body working towards a target of 33% representation of women on FTSE 350 Boards and in Executive Committee and Direct Reports by the end of 2020.

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