This year the theme for 2024 International Women’s Day is #InspireInclusion. It’s through this lens that we get to recognise the contribution of the women in our business and the important roles that they have played in and around our organizational success. It is also an opportunity to shine spotlights on and promote conversation and discussion in and around issues that women still face in the workplace today.

I’m mindful that words like Equality, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are often used interchangeably even though they mean different things. Clearing up these malapropisms in my mind; I understand Inclusion to be defined as the overarching culture that encompasses diversity, equity, and equality. Inclusion is the culture in which a mix of people can come to work, feel comfortable and confident to be themselves, and work in a way that suits them to deliver our business needs.Ultimately inclusion will ensure that everybody feels valued and, importantly, adds value.

Charterhouse Partnership #Inspireinclusion

As I’m sat here reflecting on this; I recall an article I read on Linkedin last year. It was a biweekly newsletter published by Unloq titled “Nurturing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Empowering Women for a Brighter Future”. The article acknowledges that these principles are essential for all groups; but pays particular attention in and around the necessity for women to be empowered within this framework; simply because of the sheer breadth and volume of issues that women have faced in around equality and representation.

Like anything to do with engaging our people, I believe that developing a culture of inclusion is an ongoing process that will never be completed in totality.It takes more consideration and effort than a single day reminder each year, and it requires far more than a catchy one-off initiative all beautifully rendered for a LinkedIn post.Inclusion requires us to dismantle biases and stereotypes that women face in the workplace. I read a paper published by McKinsey titled “Women In The Workplace 2023”.Regarding bias, it highlights the frequency of microaggressions that a female receives relative to her male counterpart. Microaggressions that often stem from bias. Women, relative to their male counterparts are:

·      1.5x more likely to experience others taking credit for their ideas.

·      1.5x more likely to have their judgement questioned.

·      2x more likely to have been mistaken to be more junior than they are.

·      2x more likely to receive comments on their emotional state.

·      2.5x more likely to have someone comment on their appearance

Creating an inclusive culture means creating an environment where women’s perspectives are heard.An inclusive environment actively promotes female leadership.How we identify prospective leaders, and opportunities for advancement, and opportunities to learn and develop the necessary skill sets will all play key roles in bringing on the future generation of female leaders in our business. There is no doubt the role our Learning & Development capability plays in helping empower women on these journeys.

As an employer, being inclusive is about being able to provide this, AND recognise some of the unique challenges that women face; the most perennial being the challenge of balancing career and family.To this end our flexible work practices, and our tailor made “return to work” programs post pregnancy play a pivotal role.

On a purely human level, any self-respecting CEO should want to create an inclusive workplace for every group or demographic. If this wasn’t sufficient impetus to do so, what about the economic one. Another McKinsey report found that companies with more women in executive positions were 21% more likely to outperform their counterparts in profitability.

Inclusive cultures attract a more diverse breadth of talent. This talent is then encouraged to take the sum of their experience to think differently and laterally.Businesses with an inclusive culture benefit from innovation gains which we hope in turn leads to competitive advantage.As the world of work continues to change, I genuinely believe that it is those organizations who can attract diverse groups of people; and under one company create an inclusive workplace that will be best placed to take advantage of whatever shifts in the world of work lie before us.

My commitment as CEO is to take this subject matter of inclusion and move beyond the obvious areas such as career/family balance, equity in pay, equality in career and dig deeper to do better.I work with an amazing group of women across all levels of employment in our company, and across all functional areas.GMs, Directors, Managers, Recruiters, HR, Finance, Support – women who I genuinely believe I can count on to speak candidly and openly so that via their insight we can keep moving forward.I said earlier that driving inclusivity will never be ticked as complete and so their input, feedback and guidance can never cease.

As a CEO I #inspireinclusion in the workplace.


Jason Darbyshire