By Simon Woodhead
As I write this, we’ve just wrapped up at Capacity Middle East in Dubai. It was an incredibly multicultural event, bringing operators from Europe, the Middle East and Asia together, as well as a smattering of further flung attendees from South America. What blew me away though, especially in a region not traditionally associated with gender equality, was the number of female execs. What further inspired me was their ability to hold their own and the manner in which they conduct business – they don’t come across as in any way down-trodden or suppressed as we’re told they are. As a father of three daughters, I’m instinctively a feminist so this was great to see.
I’ve long held fairly controversial views on the way the rest of the industry sees the “issue” of senior women. We have some amazing female engineers and some amazing female execs in our industry. In Simwood alone some of our brightest stars are from a range of ethnicities and span both sexes. We all want more but I passionately believe that artificially trying to favour and promote to meet some arbitrary target is utterly stupid. It can only lead to tokenism as was more than amply demonstrated in my opinion by Ofcom‘s previous CEO, now reaping havoc at John Lewis. When any of the amazing Simwood women, and in due course, my daughters, are in more senior leadership positions, I want it to be undoubted that they deserve it, not possibly because they were unfairly favoured regardless of capability. Positive discrimination is still discrimination, and I don’t want anyone doubting their ability because of a propensity for tokenism elsewhere – that’ll take a generation to undo.
I’m genuinely inspired by the diversity emerging in our industry and certainly the Simwood team is more diverse than ever and contributing to that. Long may it continue!