Westminster Business Forum policy conference- Women in the workplace 11th December

On the 11th December I was lucky enough to attend the Westminster Business Forum Policy conference regarding women in the workplace. We were welcomed in and told how the day would run. It was basically sessions with a number of speakers and then time for Q&A sessions with the panel. Although it was a packed-out event, on the delegate list we were the only trade union delegates attending. The majority of the delegates were female staff members from places like, the Home Office, department for work and pensions, Ministry of Justice and the Welsh Government.

A few speakers who stood out for me were;

  • Stefan Haukur Johannesson, Ambassador, Embassy of Iceland in London. It was interesting to hear from him, his experiences and his views on women in leadership roles. He explained to the conference that “Good intentions are not good enough, it needs legislation to implement it.” He then went on to tell us all about the Iceland women’s strike in 1975 when 90% of women done no work for a day to demonstrate the indispensable work of women for Iceland’s economy and society and to protest wage discrepancy and unfair employment practices. Stefan said he believes that women taking this action in 1975 was played a huge part in how Iceland is today.
  • Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF. Out of all the speakers I was looking forward to hearing from Mick the most due to him being a little more relatable to the line of work that we do.  Mick said, “A lot of younger people coming into the workplace want flexible working.  5% of train drivers are female and the average train driver coming into the business is age 35”. He then went into some detail about ASLEF union, he explained that until there is equality in the union his equality structures will be ringfenced. This was extremely interesting to listen too as in the CWU we have recently taken a different approach under redesign.
  • Ali Hanan, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Creative Equals. Ali explained to us she is an award winning creative director who has worked in the advertising and marketing sector for the past 20 years, working with brands such as Guinness, Ford, IKEA and McDonalds. She explained the importance of advertising not singling any person out. She then quickly showed us a presentation that was excellent. It was about the Vogue ‘over 50 edition’ In April 2019- age is a non-issue, which is a special edition dedicated to women over 50 years old. https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/british-vogue-loreal-paris-present-the-non-issue-issue

Parts of the day where really interesting and I enjoyed listening to the speakers but a lot of the day was based on women going into management and senior roles in businesses which was hard for me to relate to.

I would like to thank the CWU for sending me as a delegate. I do believe if this is on again some of our other colleagues and CWU reps would benefit from attending this to see why male dominated leadership is completely outdated and unacceptable in 2019/2020.

Elli Long