Royal Mail’s chief executive Moya Greene this week declared her support for quotas to bring more of a gender balance to British business.
Speaking at the CWU Women’s conference in Peterborough, she said quotas could be established for a temporary period to bring more women into leadership periods, and also suggested that a mentoring scheme could be set up for women to support each other in business.
The formed Canada Post boss said she had been struck by the lack of women in Royal Mail during her two years in charge, particularly in leadership positions.
“I am not personally against quotas at all. Unless you have quotas and live by them, you won’t see change in this company or the country,” she said, adding that she was open to leading a nationwide discussion on gender quotas in business.
Greene, who said quotas in Canada helped improve gender policies within the Federal Civil Service while she was starting out her own career, said Canada Post had 43% women, with 50% at the executive management level while she was chief executive.
She said she would like to see more women joining Royal Mail and taking up management positions, and claimed that the recruitment industry in the postal sector was putting up too many male candidates for roles.
“I’ve sent back the lists and have told others to do the same. It’s almost a campaign. At Canada Post I had to say we wouldn’t accept male white lists,” she said.
During the conference, Communication Workers Union deputy general secretary (postal) Dave Ward said the issue of gender balance had to get onto negotiating agendas.
“We have got to find a way of women getting a bigger role in the workplace,” he said.
Royal Mail Group currently has three women on its board of 10 members, and five women on its executive team of 18.
Asked whether Greene would be looking to adjust recruitment policies at Royal Mail to bring in more women, a spokesman told Post&Parcel yesterday that the company had “nothing further to add” beyond the speech of its chief executive.
“Massive gender imbalance”
Nichola Jones, head of recruitment at Triangle Management Services, the global consultancy and parent company of Post&Parcel, said that Moya Greene had raised a “massive issue” for recruitment within the postal industry at the moment.
“As someone who has been working in recruitment in Moya’s industry for 15 years I would hugely agree with her – there is a massive gender imbalance,” said Jones.
“In all my time recruiting at middle management to executive level across Europe, only about 5% of the candidates we have placed have been women, despite our efforts to attract a mixed-gender shortlist – even by going outside the sector to find talent.”
Jones said that the issue was not that businesses want to actively exclude female candidates in leadership positions – many are actively pushing for more women on shortlists – but that there have been insufficient women within the talent pool of the industry as a whole.
However, the Triangle head of recruitment said that the use of quotas brought with it the dangers of positive discrimination.
“This has to start from the grass roots,” she said. “Even the few women candidates we have brought in from other sectors have commented about the male-dominated culture within this industry. With more women at a board level that can help turnaround the workplace culture, but there needs to be more women entering the industry at a lower level.”
Separately, Royal Mail has confirmed that a member of its executive team, communications director Shane O’Riordain, is to leave the company to join Australian bank Westpac next year.
O’Riordain has been with Royal Mail for almost two years, and will join Westpac in early 2013, where he will lead the company’s media, government and internal relations as general manager, corporate affairs and sustainability.
Commenting on the departure, the Royal Mail spokesman told Post&Parcel: “Since arriving at the Royal Mail in November 2010, Shane has worked tirelessly to build a world-class communications team. His team’s work has been invaluable to the progress the company has made of late. Shane remains completely focused on the tasks at hand until his departure from Royal Mail and will assist in the recruitment of his successor.”
One of the five biggest companies listed on the Australian stock exchange, Westpac Group operates mainly in Australia and New Zealand, but has branches around the world, with a workforce of 37,000 and global assets of about A$654bn. Earlier this month the company signed up to use Australia Post’s new digital mail service, which launches next month.
Source: James Cartledge, Post&Parcel