Ahead of International Women’s Day tomorrow, Tanuja Randery, businesswoman, leader and zone president UK & Ireland of technology and engineering company Schneider Electric, offers her views on why businesses should have gender diversity strategies in place.  

“Today, businesses are faced with an ever changing, and increasingly complex landscape, that requires fresh thinking and innovative new approaches. Businesses who make diversity a priority will be one step ahead as they draw on a diverse range of talents, cultures and ideas.

“Diversity is a broad topic, but a good place to start is gender. In the UK, women are under-represented in many different areas, particularly in the technology and engineering industries which have historically been considered “a man’s world”. The greatest progress will be made when men and women work together to promote women’s empowerment and drive gender equality at all levels of the business. First, ensure that women are equally considered in the recruiting process, by setting targets and holding recruiters accountable to those too. At Schneider Electric, we’ve set ourselves a stretch target that 40 per cent of all new recruits will be women this year, and we’re pushing our partners in the search firms to ensure we have a good selection of candidates.  

“Next, it’s important to stop the leaky pipe and avoid talented, experienced women dropping out of the workforce part-way through their careers with no clear path to return. There are many ways to address this such as flexible working arrangements, work-sharing or even “returner” programmes such as those we’ve seen run by o2 to welcome senior women back into the workplace. Having a structured talent nurturing programme, including gender targets for internal promotions, is another important part of ensuring the gender gap doesn’t widen at the senior level.

“Finally, it’s important to continue the momentum by promoting gender and diversity initiatives. Our CEO, Jean-Pascal Tricoire is an outspoken supporter of gender equality and has led us in setting goals and defining our commitment to change. We also actively create change management campaigns, such as supporting HeForShe, the gender equality solidarity movement by UN Women. With this commitment, we’re part of an ongoing movement that exists across every industry – not just technology and engineering.

“Promoting an inclusive policy and achieving gender balance is not just the right thing to do, it’s good for business too. There is clear evidence that companies with women in their executive committee are more successful. A diversity and inclusion strategy is no longer a “nice to have”, it’s a critical objective for UK businesses, impacting both their ability to attract and retain talent, and their bottom line.”