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Ambitious Women’s Leadership Programme aims to empower female employees and change workplace culture

The issue of gender diversity within the workplace is hotter than ever. Next month the 2014 Female FTSE Board report is out, providing an update on how the UK’s leading businesses are doing in terms of getting more women board members. Signs so far this year are positive with reports of more than 20% of FTSE 100 company boards comprising women directors.

So why is it such a burning topic? Well, it has been proven that more gender diverse boards generate better profits and arrive at better decisions. As a consequence, the government and the EU want to see British businesses taking this task seriously to aid economic recovery and sustain a healthy bottom line.

On a regional level Pure Resourcing Solutions (Pure), a recruitment agency specialising in Accountancy, Financial Services, HR, Office and Executive roles, is approaching this challenge with passion. The newly developed Women’s Leadership Programme offers aspiring professional women a unique opportunity to make the most of opportunities and develop their careers. It sets itself apart from other female development programmes with its dual approach, which enables participants to become effective leaders while receiving support from a sponsor who will act as their mentor.

Run over six to eight weeks in partnership with People & Performance Ltd, the programme helps professional women develop their leadership style, maximise on opportunities at home and work, and be their authentic selves at work. In addition, the programme invites women and men in senior roles to be sponsors of the women in their organisation who are enrolled on the course.

Lynn Walters, Director of Pure, says: “Simply developing women and dropping them back into the same organisational culture without any additional support is not effective. Our programme’s distinctive dual approach seeks to develop and challenge workplaces so they can enable women’s senior career development, while also developing their skills and confidence.”

Christina Youell of People & Performance says: “By including the sponsor the delegates will have a better chance of putting into practice what they learn from the programme, resulting in long-term success. The sponsors will support women by, for example, recognising and addressing workplace behaviour that could impede women’s career progression, and by providing advice.”

The Women’s Leadership Programme has struck a chord with employers, with many of the region’s top businesses already signing up delegates. Employers appreciate that it will enable them to make real progress on improving gender balance.

In addition, the programme has already attracted highly esteemed female figures who joined potential sponsors at a recent series of meetings across the eastern region.

“We were delighted to have two very accomplished and inspiring women speak at recent breakfast meetings for the programme,” adds Lynn. “Ann Cotton OBE is the Founder and President of Camfed – a charity that tackles poverty through educating girls in rural Africa - and Dame Rachel De Souza is CEO of The Inspiration Trust. Both gave inspiring talks and reminded us of the value of female leadership.”

Ann drew parallels between Camfed’s work and the Women’s Leadership Programme, which both aim to empower women to reach their full potential. An example of how Camfed supports women is the wonderful story of Runyararo from Zimbabwe. At 13 she was taken out of school to work in the fields after her father fell ill with tuberculosis, but thanks to the charity’s support she was able to return to education and went on to study medicine and become a paediatrician.

Dame Rachel De Souza is busy transforming the education landscape in Norfolk. She is currently working to improve standards at seven schools, which are significantly benefitting from her inspirational leadership approach. Rachel has achieved a huge amount in education and was made a Dame in the 2013 New Year Honours list. At one of the recent meetings with programme sponsors Rachel shared advice based on her own strategies and insights into aspirations of female students in the East of England.

The Women’s Leadership Programme is taking place in Cambridge and Ipswich between March and May. If you would like to be a delegate or be a sponsor for a woman from your organisation, contact Lynn Walters, for details on: 01223 209888 or lynn.walters@prs.uk.com.

Click here to read more about Gender Diversity at Board Level