Supporting Midlife Women Roundtable

It’s clear from this roundtable that the topic of supporting midlife women at work has resonated. We had a powerful and passionate discussion that, in the words of one attendee, ‘could easily have gone on for more than double the time’ (1 hour 15 minutes).

‘The most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform non-diverse companies on profitability. Our 2019 analysis finds that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25 per cent more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies in the fourth quartile.’ (Mckinsey)

We had an impressive roster of HR professionals as speakers and attendees on 25th January 2024. They ranged from a Head of HR at a construction company to a Director of HR Operations at a large Japanese medical devices company, both overwhelmingly male-dominated. But equally, one of our speakers, Sharon Frost at Oxford Pharmagensis, worked in a business that was 76% female.

One of our speakers, Kameka Mclean, is Head of HR at Walker Crips, a financial services company. Financial services are well known to be male-dominated. But recently, in the UK, the Financial Services Conduct Authority has stated that By 2026, they expect large listed companies to ensure that the ‘underrepresented sex’ makes up 40% of non-executive directors and 33% of all directors.

The FCA has stated that ‘Increased diversity and inclusion in regulated financial services firms can deliver better internal governance, decision making and risk management.’

Georgie Mack, CEO of Peopleful, came back as a speaker, sharing her unique take on driving employee engagement based on her founding a leading HR analytics and engagement Company. Peopleful has revolutionised HR management through analytics and data-driven decision-making.

Georgie focused on the reasons behind ‘the great breakup’ – mid-career/midlife women leaving companies or even their careers. She was looking to answer the question, ‘Why is this happening?’

One indicator is the number of midlife women who say the workplace is not a particularly female-friendly environment. Several of our attendees are currently formulating menopause policies for their company. Mintago will be following up with more insights on that topic. Sharon Frost said that her company has menopause advocates, including men and women.

Kameka Mclean, at Walker Cripps, talked about the importance of attracting and retaining midlife women. As a woman of colour, it was even more impressive to see her as a role model and leader in her company since women of colour have been particularly underrepresented in corporate leadership over the last ten years.

Kameka talked about how important it is to develop training and support programmes for female leaders. Also, how hard it is for women to balance home life and childcare responsibilities with being a C-level executive. Kameka was drawing on her personal experience here.

Many attendees had great ideas on how to support women at work better. Lisa Hand, Head of HR at telecommunications company, Ogi, talked about how she has developed female mentoring programmes.

Catherine Parker, Director of Human Resources Operations, at medical equipment manufacturer PHC Holdings Corporation, talked about how she sees ‘a lot of marginalisation of women of a particular age in the hiring process’.

Georgie Mack, CEO of Peopleful, said how sad it was that ‘midlife women often have to edit themselves out of important roles to avoid age discrimination’.

Catherine said that British head hunters had advised her to take out her four years at Mckinsey and six years at Deloitte, BCG and Bain, because it was twenty years ago. However, this is an integral part of her career trajectory, leading to her managing a team of 25 recruiters when she was promoted to Director of EMEA Talent Acquisition at Akamai Technologies.

We wouldn’t see many men taking McKinsey off their CV if the roles were reversed. They often write ‘Ex-Mckinsey’ or ‘Ex-Google’ right on the top of their LinkedIn profile, even if they had a relatively junior role there!

We at Mintago know that some of our readers have been asking for longer blog posts. However, we do not want to share too much on this blog since Damien Seaman, our content strategist, will soon produce a whitepaper on this topic. Rest assured that we will make sure we share all of these great insights with you.

In addition, we have recently published a guide to retaining your top female talent. We will run another roundtable in April and a webinar on 6th March. Suppose you would like more ideas on how to support your midlife/mid-career female employees better. In that case, you might also want to check out Childcare Salary Sacrifice, which can reduce childcare costs by up to 47% for your employees with children.

Kelsey Hellens, Mintago’s Head of Customer Success, did such an outstanding job moderating this discussion, that we unanimously brought Kelsey back as moderator for both the upcoming webinar and roundtable. You can also read this excellent McKinsey report on Women in the Workplace (It is written using US research but is nevertheless still highly relevant to the UK). Stay tuned for more details.