Now, I'm not saying women are better than men but... obviously I am only kidding, but I do want to add my voice to the growing chorus calling for employers to rethink their HR approach to accommodate the needs of a female workforce.
Ed Miliband was right in his praise for the advertising and marketing industry for its more progressive approach to an increasingly balanced workforce (as he was about calling for better representation in the material it produces, but that's another story). The company I run is equally balanced, more or less, between male and female employees, and I am convinced that fact is key to our success.
Don't just take my anecdotal word for it - my theory has been backed-up by cold hard proverbial; a 2013 report from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's Women's Council showed that GDP could be increased by 10 per cent if men and women were equally represented across the UK workforce by 2030.
Surely we have reached the tipping point on this issue; quite apart from the moral arguments, we all want our businesses to be successful, therefore doesn't it make strategic sense to look at employment strategies and succession planning and to address male/female workforce balance?
Let me be clear, I am not advocating sexism in the recruitment process - all candidates should be judged on their own merits as well as the key requirements of the role in question. But the incentive for companies to take a critical look at their ways of working is now clear. Managed properly, it shouldn't hurt the bottom line to embrace a culture of flexible working for parents of younger children or for those possibly returning to work in their third life stage, and it may in fact boost profits.
Obviously, this won't be an overnight shift. It is going to take time and clearly the process needs to begin at base level with schools and broader careers advice. The all-important skills women bring to the work place are naturally developed through our formative years; through going to college and living our 'young' lives; through bringing our children into the world and nurturing them to adulthood.
Organisational skills, often a non-confrontational approach, budget control and bringing solutions to the table are not exclusive to women, and indeed I myself have seen some exceptional working men displaying these traits. However, the DCMS report also highlights that we'd have an "extra one million" entrepreneurs if women were setting up businesses at the same rate as men. Sadly, only half are likely to bite the bullet. There are a lot of women out there with untapped entrepreneurialism. Got to be worth thinking about at the very least.
It's time to review recruitment procedure habits and adopt a new open-minded approach. My industry, Content Marketing, has historically been a high percentage female based sector. It's also one of the fastest growing marketing disciplines with a recent Mintel report projecting growth, from currently just under £1bn, up to £1.14bn by 2015. The sector, as here at Publicis Blueprint, pretty much reflects the 50:50 male/female split of the UK population.
If we can act as a role model industry, and offer peer support to female workers, surely other sectors will also see the benefits leading to a more contented company and an improved bottom line.