Girl power and developing talent in the workplace

I’m pleased to say that PM+M is leading the way in gender equality within the professional services industry: I’ve recently been appointed managing partner, we have two other female partners, as well as two female directors.

Jane ParryJane Parry, managing partner of PM+M.

I passionately believe that promoting diversity and developing talent regardless of gender should be two cornerstones of every business, regardless of the sector it operates in.

PM+M is genuinely an equal opportunities employer. We recognise the importance of attracting good people and then developing and retaining them. Last year we were awarded Investors in People Gold status which was a great achievement and was testament to the hard work we have put into creating our culture.

Recruiting good people is tough at the moment, with every good candidate being tempted by multiple job offers. To attract those people to join us we have to let them see and experience our culture and understand the career development opportunities that we can give them.

We also have to think laterally about what is important to those candidates and adapt to meet those needs. Flexibility is key to this approach. We would rather have a great person for three days a week than miss out on the strengths that person can bring to our business. We see that flexibility being rewarded by the loyalty it engenders within our people.

As a professional woman with children, I am fully aware of the particular challenges that women face if they want to progress in a professional career. In our workforce we see child care responsibilities falling predominantly on women. Therefore, they need flexibility in their working arrangements to cope with planned and unexpected child care and family responsibilities.

We also need to take the time to understand women’s aspirations. Some may choose to put their career on hold while their children are young, but need to know that they can reignite it when the time is right for them. Others want to continue to progress their careers throughout, but need flexibility in working arrangements in order to do that. This is definitely not an area for a one size fits all approach.

Work life balance is also important for all of our team, but can be particularly challenging when you have a young family. We operate an annual hours scheme as well as flexible benefits to allow people to flex their arrangements and working patterns to fit with family and other commitments. We also encourage people to think about personal out of work objectives when setting their annual personal development plans. On the subject of quotas or positive discrimination, I have mixed feelings. I absolutely see the importance and benefits of encouraging women to join the team and progress but, if you have a genuinely equal and flexible culture based on personal performance, there should be no need for such measures and there is a danger of them becoming counter-productive.