Category: Women in Leadership, Mental Health, Educational, BAME Inclusion, LGBT+ Network, Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace, Cambridge Assessment, Disability and Neurodiversity, Staff Networks
Supporting and inspiring women to pursue their ambitions and achieve their
At Cambridge Assessment, we actively support diversity and inclusion and recognise the importance of creating a culture where everyone feels valued for the contribution they make. However, we also recognise that there is always work to do. That’s why inclusion, combined with wellbeing, is a vital part of our engagement strategy.
Our staff inclusion networks are groups made up of colleagues across Cambridge Assessment with a shared purpose. They are run by staff for staff, and their value lies in creating an environment that respects the diversity of the organisation and enables colleagues to derive maximum benefit and enjoyment from working here.
We currently have six networks, which all staff are welcome to join:
- BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic)
- Healthy Mind
- Parents and Carers Together
- Women in Leadership
- Disability and Neurodiversity
We are also developing training for managers on inclusion, diversity and unconscious bias activities which will develop our culture of openness, respect and tolerance.
For this blog, I spoke with two inspirational women who have been instrumental in founding and progressing our Women in Leadership Network Group about the importance of gender equality within Cambridge Assessment.
Founder, and outgoing Chair, Chloe Shaw is Head of Alliance Management for Cambridge Assessment English. Chloe recently won a Women in International Education award for her work on inclusion and her collaborative leadership style.
Why did you establish the Women in Leadership Network?
“I set up the network in 2016 as a staff-led initiative to help support and inspire women to achieve their leadership goals. Overall, our gender balance is pretty good, but at the time anyone could see that women were not well represented at the highest levels of leadership.”
What has the network achieved since its inception?
“A lot has changed over the last couple of years, thanks to the work of the network, namely the organisation’s increased desire to create a truly inclusive workplace for staff and a great people-focused CEO. We have many more female role models in senior leadership roles now and an active programme of network meetings, events and support sessions available to staff.”
What’s next for this network?
“After two years of leading the network and growing it to more than 400 active members, it was time to take things to the next level. With Ashley as the new Chair, I’m really seeing the benefit of having a communications expert in charge.
Ashley’s been really great at information sharing, stimulating debate and increasing participation from our regional teams and our team in Coventry. I’m also in complete awe of her delegation skills which means she has many hands happily making light work. Hats off to her for taking on the challenge and making it all look so effortless.”
Chloe’s successor is Cambridge Assessment’s External Communications and Social Media Manager, Ashley Capaldi.
Why did you want to Chair the Women in Leadership Network?
''The group has achieved so much under Chloe’s leadership in two years; developing from an informal, grassroots network into an influential and positive force for change championing policies, training and progression for women in the workplace. I want to build on that.
I was also influenced, and excited by, recent changes in our leadership team with the appointment of three female CEOs in the last year which means there are now more women than men in our leadership team. Female leaders can play a vital role in clearing a path for all women, but there is still more to do to achieve a truly gender-equal workplace.”
How is the group developing under your leadership?
“The group now has an expanded remit. Our goal is ‘fair gender representation within Cambridge Assessment’ so it will look at gender equality as a whole. We will support underrepresented groups to build the career they want, provide a safe space for discussions relating to gender balance and representation, and promote role models that encourage gender equality.”
What practical activities and projects can staff take part in to support these aims?
“The group is made up of members from all over the world, so we make the most of technology and ‘meet’ quarterly via Skype – everyone is welcome. We invite guest speakers to lead panel discussions on an issue which may be affecting gender equality within the organisation. This quarter we are focussing on gender differences and how we can reduce restrictions on female career progression, as well as looking at our own recruitment process and how this is changing to attract more women to apply for roles at Cambridge Assessment.
We also offer training and encourage staff members to call out and give feedback on bad behaviours and to feel comfortable doing this.
And this year, for International Women’s Day, we ‘followed the sun’ around the world and posted Instagram photos of staff sharing the hashtag #IWD19 starting at our Australia offices and ending on the West Coast of the US. It was positively received by all staff, men and women alike, and helped to raise awareness of women's rights and promote equal opportunity status in all walks of life.”
Here are three tips from Ashley on establishing a gender equality group within your organisation:
1. Firstly, ask yourself why you need the group – look at the make-up of your organisation and see which groups of people need support and representation. Use data and insights to ensure you are addressing the real issues. Be clear about the change you want to see and be open and honest about the purpose of the group.
2. Senior leadership buy-in is crucial. Having the support of our corporate board sponsors Fran Woodward, Jill Duffy and Neil Musk has been invaluable in giving the network a voice within key decision-making forums. Neil is an advocate for gender equality and has worked on addressing gender imbalance in the finance industry in a previous role. And Fran and Jill are two of the aforementioned newly(ish) appointed CEOs!
3. Finally, be “super-inclusive”. Ensure that staff are aware that it’s open to everyone. Even if members don’t feel personally affected by your group’s concerns at that time, the more people you can educate means more awareness and understanding of gender equality and a greater long-term impact.
If you would like to hear more about what it’s like to work at Cambridge Assessment click on the link to view their profile on VERCIDA;