by Claire Porter
Originally published: March 6, 2017
In 2017, the majority of the UK’s chief executives and council leaders are men. There is still a lot to be done to reach full gender equality in local government leadership. But for International Women’s Day, we have made three short films to show the many strong, articulate and driven women in leadership roles in local government, determined to improve their communities and help other women to do the same.
We often talk about diversity and women in the workplace as an issue that only benefits one gender. But a diverse workforce isn’t just good for women – it’s good for everyone. Local government has such a fundamental impact on people’s life chances as well as day-to-day life, it’s important that it represents the huge varieties of experiences and needs of the people that it serves. And that goes for both political leadership and officers – otherwise there are huge risks that policies are made that do not work for everyone.
To deliver the diversity we need in leadership teams, we have to have women progressing up the management ladder. Jo Miller, chief executive of Doncaster council, has put diversity at the heart of her aims during her term as president of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives. As councillor Judith Blake, the leader of Leeds city council, points out in our film, men are still by far in the majority in a number of key industries, such as infrastructure, highways and planning, and the lack of female speakers at recent conferences has highlighted how big the disparity is right at the top.