Learning Hub

Alistair Tosh

8th Mar 2022

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IMI and 30% Club Ireland working together to #BreakTheBias

To mark International Women’s Day 2022, the IMI are celebrating the achievements of women, raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality as we work together in conjunction with our partners 30% Club Ireland to #BreakTheBias.

The IMI and the 30% Club Ireland have collaborated for years across several initiatives to change the calculus of boardroom representation, empowering and inspiring women. 

We spoke to Gillian Harford, the Country Executive at 30% Club Ireland, about the partnership with IMI and how programmes like the IMI / 30% Club Scholarship, the IMI / 30% Club Network Mentor Programme and Taking The Lead – Women in Leadership have contributed to breaking the bias.

How has the partnership between the IMI and 30% Club Ireland helped to change the conversation?

One of the three strategic pillars within the 30% Club is enabling future women leaders and we know that progression to the most senior roles in organisations is dependent on continuous career development. Having the IMI as our education partner since the outset has helped significantly in reinforcing that message in a very practical way, together with the ideal business focus that the IMI brings in the programmes that it supports.

The IMI / 30% Club Network Mentor Programme has gone from strength to strength recently. Why is the programme such a valuable development tool for up-and-coming female executives? 

We know that mentoring adds value to a career journey, yet typically women are less likely to give themselves permission to take time out of their work schedule to reflect and plan for future progress. The programme provides the opportunity to do that and the crosscompany aspect provides an additional bonus of a broader network and support. Mentoring programmes are now a core deliverable for all 30% Club chapters across the world. It is a great privilege for us to have our own dedicated programme operating out of Ireland with the support of the IMI and the companies that get involved.

Within the 30% Club our focus is always on fixing the system, not fixing the women. We see the greatest benefit of the programme as time invested in building selfawareness of their strengths that will support the confidence to grow further in a career – which ultimately leads to great gender balance in more senior roles in our organisations.

The eight-year partnership between the 30% Club and IMI for the scholarship has enabled high potential female executives to avail of a fully funded Professional Diploma at IMI to enhance their careers. What do the women who participate say about the scholarship and the impact it has on them? 

The feedback from our alumni is that the scholarship has been the perfect way to invest in their careers and in themselves as individuals, and the aspect of being ‘selected’ for the award of a scholarship is a great boost to personal confidence. The calibre of the programmes offered through the scholarship is also second to none, which adds to the outstanding feedback.

We know that executive education is critical to progression to very senior roles in organisation. Yet while women make up almost 56% of undergraduates in Ireland, the numbers drop significantly at postgraduate levels. This impacts on the CVs for potential senior female executives, but it also impacts on the make-up of executive education classrooms. 

The scholarship programme has two key aims: to support women into executive education who may not have the resources otherwise and to improve the gender balance in executive education classrooms for better learning outcomes. Both ultimately support the longterm talent pipeline 

How has the Taking The Lead – Women in Leadership programme been able to complement the mission of the 30% Club? 

Often organisations focus on gender pipeline at the point of recruitment and at the most senior levels. But we need to invest in talent at every point of the career ladder so that gender balance does not fall away.  The Taking The Lead – Women in Leadership programme is perfectly pitched to support that jump into a more senior role at a time when participants can benefit from developing their leadership brand, learning from others, building a wider business network and, as with the mentoring programme, taking time to reflect on where they want to be as leaders and how to develop a plan to get there. 

If we look at careers as a journey, then the combination of the IMI / 30% Club Network Mentor Programme, Taking The Lead – Women in Leadership and the scholarship gives opportunities for women to avail of initiatives across the various key career milestones progressing from junior to more senior management, which ultimately drives the change in the gender balance across all organisations.  

Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias #IWD2022

To learn more about International Women’s Day, visit www.internationalwomensday.com and #BreakTheBias in 2022.

Find out more about our programmes in partnership with the 30% Club: