Since the celebration of International Women’s Day back at the beginning of March, the focus for many business leaders across the globe has been how to promote female talent development within their organisations.

A number of months ago, the former UK Trade Minister Lord Davies announced a replacement target that FTSE 350 boards should be 33% female by 2020. His commentary discussed the differences seen from 2011- 2015 as a “steady and sustained increase”. The focus was upon what needs to be achieved but seemed to overlook the reality of how business should go about achieving these targets.

boardroomDon’t get me wrong, I am in full support that there should be a fairer representation of women at executive level. However what Lord Davies failed to acknowledge or advocate is how women will be supported, developed and empowered to have the confidence to apply for these Board-level positions, how to be successful and how to deliver in their role. Davies aspiration of eventually achieving an equal gender representation in the Board room is honourable; however this alone will only plug the Government gender gap in Board rooms. Is it the expectation of FTSE firms to simply appoint women to achieve Government gender related targets, even if they are not the best candidate for the role? Some may argue that the 2020 target has not truly considered how a strong talent pool of women will be developed in readiness for Board level positions.

The rational for the government gender gap targets is questionable. The advisable direction imparted on any business not just FTSE firms is that of a change in culture. A direct focus needs to be on the discovery of the potential, untapped pool of talented women as well as the opportunity for personal development and growth in a flexible work environment. These are the key ingredients necessary to set talented female leaders up for success at an Executive level within their organisation. As a result of this, there will be a natural increase of women in top roles, where they have gained their position through their credibility and competence; not simply to reach a Government-set gender target. Surely this should be the ultimate tangible goal for Lord Davies?

At OnTrack International, we have supported many organisations with female talent development through our popular “Women OnTrack” programme. The value of the Women OnTrack programme for our clients is that it identifies, attracts and retains female talent. Identifying and prioritising work-related development needs alone will not ensure success. Women OnTrack recognises that the imminent challenge for each and every woman pursuing career advancement is to build their unique brand, to raise their profile and to build credibility within a predominantly male environment.

Let’s work together to support, develop and celebrate your female leaders and not simply meet Government set gender targets. For more information about our Women OnTrack programme, please contact us here.