Paula Deas is the Operations Director at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and here she discusses the importance of having women involved at board level in LEPs.
“The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter and that has particular resonance with Local Enterprise Partnerships.
“This fits in neatly with the LEP Women Leaders 2019 event in June when senior women business leaders and entrepreneurs from the private, public, education and third sectors will be meeting in London to inspire more women leaders to get involved in the work of LEPs.
“I think it is really important women involved in LEPs throughout England encourage other women of all ages and from all sectors of the economy to play their part in making a difference to their communities.
“We are always looking for women to join the CWLEP board who are passionate about Coventry and Warwickshire and are committed to further driving forward our ambitious agenda as well as lead our numerous business groups which range from Digital and Creative to Transport and Infrastructure.
“All board appointments are made on merit, in the context of skills and experience, and I think it is important that we embrace the benefits of having a board which represents Coventry and Warwickshire’s diverse area as we all unite in one common goal of improving our creativity, productivity and innovation.
“It is often difficult to make time in our ever-increasing work schedules but, as we support International Women’s Day, it is important we encourage talented businesswomen to showcase their talents because the long-term effect will mean more women have the confidence to set-up their own business or join a business group or board directors.
“It is also important women grasp the nettle and apply for vacancies otherwise there can be no complaints when our gender is overlooked to fill these important positions.
“I have met many dynamic, ambitious women in Coventry and Warwickshire who would be perfect to be an executive or non-executive director because they are the driving forces of their business or organisation and their knowledge and expertise would be an asset.
“But sometimes I think women are guilty of being cautious or don’t have the belief they can make a difference. We must overcome this by encouraging women to put themselves forward for board vacancies because there is no doubt they would strengthen the position of boards.
“The government has challenged LEPs to achieve equal gender representation on their boards by 2023.
“That can sometimes be difficult to achieve though CWLEP are working hard to achieve this in Coventry and Warwickshire.
“It is an ideal opportunity to increase the gender balance so that we have the right mix from our communities involved in the strategic leadership of our board as well as developing further growth in our economy, supporting businesses and creating jobs to steer Coventry and Warwickshire to an even brighter future as we celebrate International Women’s Day.
“The private and public sector both need and have to play their part in identifying and nominating women for board roles to achieve the best represented board possible.”