Future Proof, preparing women for Senior Management
How to prepare women for Senior Management.

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Good leadership in higher education has never mattered more than now, with increases in tuition fees, concerns over international recruitment, widening access pressures, not to forget the challenges of competing in a globalised research and teaching market. The University Of Central Lancashire (UCLan) recognised that in facing these challenges they were failing to utilise the whole of the leadership talent in the University. Women at UCLan are well represented at junior and middle management positions, but less so in Senior Management.

Already raised levels of self awareness and confidence have been demonstrated by the Future Proofers. The women are more confident in their own capability and capacity to take on Senior Leadership positions, with one already moving on to a senior leadership role. They have been engaged as part of the programme in group and individual projects which have university wide impact. These have clear measurable outcomes, and mentoring received by a member of the Senior Management Team raises will the profile of the projects and the participants and therefore underlines the value of women as future leaders.

Although some higher education institutions offer women’s development programmes, there is little evidence of programmes specifically aimed at preparing women for Senior Management. The programme is innovative because it combines a complex blend of interventions and support to achieve its objectives. It includes a series of workshops focussed on building skills and knowledge, context sessions shaped by the participants themselves, one and group coaching, pre reading , group and individual projects with university wide impact, mentoring by senior managers, a Common Purpose element providing external focus and network opportunities, and the achievement of an ILM qualification in Leadership and Management.[/one_half_last]

The programme design is deliberately intensive with a challenging and diverse workload, providing experiential learning which mirrors the additional pressures and challenges faced in a senior role. However the international role of many of participants meant that attending all of the workshops was not possible. Some participants have reported a need to slow down the programme to allow more time for reflection and to absorb learning. We need to challenge objections to “affirmative action”, by communicating the clear business case supported by sound research, referenced in McKinsey‘s ground breaking work “Women Matter” –Gender Diversity, a corporate performance driver.

The lack of women in senior leadership roles is a highly current issue, and although most of the focus is on FTSE boards, higher education suffers equally. This programme inspires women to believe in themselves and their role in leading large organisations, and ensures that UCLan are making use of all of their talent of both sexes. If women in Senior Management are normal in university, students will take that norm into their own careers. The programme is adaptable and will inspire and equip women with the confidence, skills and capability to take on the challenge of any large organisation.[/one_half_last]

The Speaker

Helen Jones
Leadership and Development Manager
University of Central Lancashire

Helen has a background in learning and development within organisations, designing and delivering programmes to support personal and organisational objectives. Her experience in single gender personal development influenced the design of this project, which aims to improve the representation of women at senior levels within UCLan. Helen leads the development team within HR and works closely with colleagues from across the organisation to support all employees to be the best they can be and ensure UCLan remains a great place to work.