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Setting the agenda for diverse female perspectives in leadership

Embracing diversity and inclusion in business is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s critical for business success.  

It’s been well-documented that businesses reap significant benefits through diversity—from increased innovation to a better bottom line. The Credit Suisse Gender 3000 Report in 2021 highlighted not only that boardroom diversity had improved over a five-year period, but that this illustrates “a positive correlation between increased gender diversity in leadership positions and superior returns on capital, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and stock performance. The more pervasive diversity is within an organization, the stronger the relationship.” 

Further reporting published by Morgan Stanley in 2023 has reinforced this trend. The investment firm reported that businesses with greater gender diversity outperformed less gender-diverse firms by 1.6% through 2022 – based on ‘Holistic Equal Representation Scoring’ (HERS). 

What’s more, employees want to work for companies that are committed to diversity— a diverse workforce helps create a sense of belonging. It’s clear that any business serious about growth must embrace the diverse perspectives and experiences that individuals from all backgrounds bring to their organization. 

So, how can businesses include and support the huge diversity of female perspectives in their day-to-day operations? We’ve gathered insight from leading female voices across industries – from education to marketing – on the tangible steps individuals and organizations can take. In this final entry to our Women’s History Month series, our panel of experts discussed the importance of mentorship, equitable workplace policies, flexible support systems, and inclusive advocacy in increasing female representation and supporting diversity and inclusion.   

Diversity as a foundation for growth

As many businesses can attest, retrofitting diversity is difficult. If you’ve not brought in a range of people and perspectives from the very beginning, your talent pipeline will be restricted, and your business will have been shaped by people with similar outlooks. That’s not to say it’s too late, as Karmen Jerome, Enterprise Relationship Manager at Bluprintx explains: 

“Get a woman in, early! Far too many plans, briefs, and decisions are written and signed off without female input, and yet more than 50% of the population are women.” 

Laura Milne, Head of Digital Education, Centre for Academic Innovation and Development (CAID) at the University of Chester agreed. After reading Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Christina Criado Perez, she says her eyes were opened to the extent of this problem. 

“So many systems around us have been created without taking the needs of approximately 51% of the population into account, and diverse groups are still routinely excluded from discussions that impact them,” said Milne.  

In the book, Criado Perez talks about the “one-size-fits-men” approach to designing products and systems, giving dozens of examples, from smartphones to crash test dummies. At the very least, designing solely for men brings inconvenience for women, but it can also have serious ramifications for women’s safety or health.  

“I think tech-based fields are slowly realizing that it takes consistent effort to foreground the voices of women. It’s important that if your project impacts the lives of diverse people, that you’ve had their participation as stakeholders,” continued Milne.

From a business perspective, it makes sense to design products and services that work for the whole of your target audience. According to Anya Prior, Salesforce Technical Consultant at Bluprintx, this means taking time to listen to different perspective: “There’s a need to get information out the door as quickly as possible but if we pause longer to listen to the different walks that women can come from—race, gender, sexuality, class—then we can gain a much more realistic representation of women in the tech world.” 

“I think more brands need to commit to listen on a deeper and a more holistic level to their audience and collaborate to create positive change,” agreed Lucy Alligan, Bluprintx Global Director of Marketing, “I would like to see more brands adapting to changing social dynamics and promoting inclusivity. Nike has had some great campaigns recently related to its Leak Protection period range and its partnership with Dove on the Body Confident Sport program.” 

Bringing women in early also results in better decision making, according to Dr. Linda Rush, Education Expert for the Ministry of Education (UAE), who says: “I take as a given that having different perspectives available makes better decision making. In my experience I do know that, more often than not, having women involved at all levels of decision making just leads to better decisions.”   

Embracing inclusion through flexibility

In the post-pandemic working world, flexible working has had a new lease of life. The benefits for employers and employees are clear, from staff retention and better productivity to driving greater diversity in your workforce.  

By offering flexibility, businesses can attract talent they may not have been able to before, including mothers who want to return to work, older workers who would prefer to work part-time, and neurodiverse candidates who work better outside of the traditional office nine-to-five.  

According to Zoe Forman, Senior Marketing Operations Specialist (EMEA), MSA – The Safety Company, flexibility is key when it comes to supporting a diversity of female talent. And our other female leaders were in agreement.  

“Offering remote and flexible working options can greatly accommodate diverse female perspectives, whether it’s balancing childcare or caring for ageing parents,” explains Zoe.  

Zoe Collins, Group Finance Director at Bluprintx, underlined the importance of providing that flexibility all-round, not just for mums. “My husband is also dedicated to his career but he was up for the challenge of sharing my maternity leave with both children,’ she explains.  

“I’m very lucky that,  a) we both wanted that and b) we had the opportunity with the shared parental leave policy in the UK. Any company offering enhanced maternity should think about offering to both men and women.” 

Dr. June Dennis, Managing Director and Marketing Strategy Coach of Mountain Top Perspectives Ltd, agrees that flexible working does help. “It’s still difficult for women to move into senior management roles as the requirement to attend meetings at non-child-friendly times can be hard work. When I became associate dean, I had to attend a weekly meeting with the VC that started at 8am, which meant leaving home at 7am or earlier. That meant I had to rely on others to take my children to school or breakfast club.  

“That said, given the flexibility that lecturers have when they are not teaching, I was able to get to most school events when my kids were young, which I valued. Hopefully, flexible working does help to some extent.”  

Advocacy in business culture

Mentoring and advocacy is a great way to support minority and diverse employees through their career progression – as covered earlier in this series. Bringing this forward to diversity and inclusion, Zoe Forman explains, “Encouraging mentorship among women and spotlighting female leaders can further enhance diversity and inclusivity in our industry.” 

“From a practical side, it’s great to participate where you can see role models who look like you,” agreed Laura Milne.  

Hilla Bakshi, Tech Ecosystem Leader, believes that successful women should take the time to mentor other women and create a strong network of support. This is an idea supported by Olga Lykova, Head of Partnerships for North America at, who says: 

“I think it’s important to lift people as you grow. Prioritize supporting one or two women to start with, even if you’re just starting out in your career. If you’re a couple of years into your career, you can help by going back to your college, or help a local college student with polishing their resume, setting up their LinkedIn, inviting them to join a conference for networking opportunities.” 

“It’s a very small lift,” says Olga, “but it can change someone’s life and career trajectory. Let’s start small and encourage people around us to do the same, that’s how we drive impact at scale.”  

Mentorship can work both ways, too, helping senior staff understand the challenges and consider the perspectives of people from different walks of life. Which brings us on to training.  

According to Nele Van der borght, Head of Marketing at DPAM: “We need to train people to think and act with diversity in mind. We need to chisel away at our teams to make them as versatile as possible and engrain critical questioning in our actions by making us aware of our prejudice.” 

Dana Dumai, VP of Products,, agrees that this innate bias can have an impact on how women are perceived in the workplace and how they act: “Women tend not to brag, not to ask for promotions and to make themselves small. We all know it starts from the minute we are born, what we are expected to say and how we are expected to behave. It begins in the nursery, through school years and onward.  

“To break that is to first understand the barriers and then make sure we don’t fall into these pitfalls.” 

Of course, diverse teams are more than just a mix of genders. As Maud Davis, PR and Communications Trainer for CIPR, explains: 

“Most employers tend to think that they have a diverse workplace, but having a diverse workplace is about more than a male-to-female ratio. It is about inclusion and promoting equal representation for all—equal opportunities in access to employment, positions of leadership, and decision-making at all levels.” 


The benefits of fostering diversity and inclusion are clear: diverse teams lead to greater innovation, improved decision-making, and higher profitability. And embracing diverse female perspectives is an integral part of the picture. 

Businesses need to adopt proactive measures from the outset, ensuring that women are included in every stage of the decision-making process. To make this possible, businesses need to offer flexible work arrangements to accommodate diverse needs, provide individual support and mentorship opportunities, and actively challenge organizational biases.  

By taking these steps, businesses can not only create a more equitable workplace but also unlock their workforce’s full potential, driving long-term sustainable growth and success. And as we close off this series for Women’s History Month, we look forward to a year in which empowered female voices can make a greater impact than ever before.