Episode 1: WERKIN with Brenda Trenowden on turning intention into action
What can morning dance-offs do for your team? What’s the problem with aiming for ‘flexibility?’ How can CEOs turn intention into action when it comes to talent and inclusion? Hayley sat down with Brenda Trenowden to chat about her work with the 30% Club and how mentorship helped her get to where she is today.
Now head of Financial Institutions Group Europe, ANZ Bank, in her 25-year career in finance, Trenowden has observed and worked to resolve challenges facing women and underrepresented groups across industries. In 2015, Trenowden took over as Global Chair of the 30% Club, a cross-industry, global campaign for increasing the representation of women in senior roles.
In Werkin with…’s inaugural episode, Trenowden talks about how CEOs can turn intent into action when it comes to committing to gender balance at their organizations.
We still do see a fair bit of what’s been termed as “pink-washing”... it’s the companies that sponsor all the female-friendly adverts, they sponsor conferences. But when you actually look at their C-Suite teams, their senior leadership teams, they’re still male-dominated. They’re not actually leading by example, they’re not actually doing anything. The first thing you need is the CEO to really care about this.
Trenowden describes the importance of leadership being brave enough to do an internal analysis that may reveal less than flattering data on gender parity at their organizations. ‘They’ve got to develop metrics, they’ve got to set targets and report on those targets regularly.’ When companies can be more self-reflective, they can take action on specific weaknesses. Trenowden describes the example of a company that found women, on average, spent six years longer in a role than men before being promoted. Without this kind of data, she notes, companies cannot begin to improve representation.
Apart from leadership buy-in and data, Trenowden stresses mentorship programmes as a tool to identify talented women and work to support their growth through the organization. At the same time, promoting underrepresented groups needs to go beyond framing these efforts as addressing a ‘female problem.’ Companies emphasizing ‘flexibility,’ she warns, often focus on working mothers, instead of a diverse sets of employees which may have caring responsibilities. Instead, promoting ‘agile’ work can be a more inclusive term, recognizing the strength of diverse work styles.