Strategic Thinking Forum 28 May 2015


03 / 6 / 2015 12.43pm

The Strategic Forum met 28 May 2015.

Detailed discussions centred on the following working title of the meeting; Women and the Glass Ceiling'. 

Margaret Davies and Kaye Welfare, Glass LIFT Ltd

Margaret and Kaye shared their research and work involving the private sector and more recently the South West NHS Leadership Academy. They argued that the obstacles to women’s progression at work are less obvious and more complex than they once were and that many are rooted in societal stereotypes of women, organisational and leadership cultures and nature of the some job roles and woman’s personal circumstances.

They discussed that there is no easy fix to increasing the number of women in leadership, and that it would take time and sustained effort at individual, team and organisational level. They recommended diagnosing the barriers that are at play in each organisation is critical to developing successful interventions.

They outlined the following five key strategic enablers;

  • understand the barriers faced by aspiring women in the NHS
  • raise awareness of the barriers to women’s progression
  • senior leaders championing change
  • break down hidden organisational barriers
  • upport talented and aspiring women.

They endorsed the development of a women’s leadership network and recommended that any such network should focus on the following key areas;

  • research
  • leadership culture change
  • HR strateg
  • leadership development for women.

Dr Penny Newman

Dr Newman shared her experience of progression within the NHS and also a paper commissioned by UN Women to promote gender equality through exploring the use of the new System-Wide Action Plan (UN-SWAP) following her attendance at the Advancing Women in Medicine Summit, the Kings Fund, 16 December 2014.

Her key points included, the under representation of women in NHS leadership, and pipeline issues of horizontal differentiation into lower level and 'female friendly' roles and bottlenecks in certain groups like medicine and finance, have significant implications for the quality of service and financial bottom line that merits specific attention.

Evidence is now accumulating that by promoting gender equality similar to other sectors and across the globe the NHS will benefit through: Improving organisational performance and decision making.

  • increasing productivity by agile working, improved recruitment and retention
  • access to the widest talent pool
  • meeting patient needs
  • being an exemplar employer
  • meeting global and national legislative requirements.

The UN-SWAP constitutes the first uniform accountability framework to systematically measure progress related to gender equality and women’s empowerment across all 32 UN system entities and their mandates. It requires organisational responses to six key functional clusters and 15 performance measures relating to accountability, results-based management, oversight, evaluation and monitoring, human and financial resources, capacity assessment and development, and coherence and information management.

The benefits of detailed consideration of an accountability framework such as the UN-SWAP tool as a mechanism to achieve gender equality include:

  • A focus on organisations and systems rather than individual women.
  • The adoption of a ready-made framework that builds on current practice.
  • The broad application of the indicators. 
  • Similarities between the NHS and UN Women as organisations.
  • Access to global intelligence in a complex area.

The next meeting of the forum will be held 17 September 2015. 

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