Boardroom 2030 invites and equips businesses to explore what a 2030 future might look like and draw attention to the changes we must make to our boards today. We’re proud to have signed up to the initiative and to be thinking about what we can do, here at ELE Global, to change the way we do business and shape our own board, for 2030.
This month we’ve welcomed a new member of the team, Ellie Morrison. Ellie is a final year student at Dundee University and is part of our commitment to taking on those in education, helping them to develop skills that will lead towards employment, after graduation.
Rather than simply shout about how happy we are to have her join us (which we are, of course) we thought it would be interesting to ask her about the boardroom she wants to join in 2030. Here’s what she said…
Boardroom 2030 and my business future – the perspective of a new employee.
To be perfectly honest, the final year of university is a scary one. Constantly, the media, lecturers, friends and family ask and explain why you need to get a job, and why you need to get one fast.
‘You shouldn’t do a year out, employers won’t want you anymore after that, they’ll want recent graduates’
‘Don’t you think your course is a bit broad, you might not be able to get a job unless you do a masters after…’
‘I’ve been offered a graduate job already! Can you believe it?’
‘So what is it you want to do as a career then?’
I think anyone my age would agree these sentences are the ones that seem to punch us in the gut the most. God forbid if we haven’t figured out exactly what we want to do by the age of 21, because otherwise, you’re simply a failure.
So, what do I want to do with my life? What career do I feel best suited to? Will I even have the qualifications to graduate? The answer to these is, I have no clue. What I do know, however, is that I am wary of the working world as it currently stands. Now labelled as the ‘Sunday Scaries’ as the thought of another week at work, even over the weekend, is a dreaded one.
Boardroom 2030 has made me think… maybe it’s not the job itself that’s so depressing. Maybe it’s the environment that we’ve created surrounding the world of work. Maybe it’s the hierarchy of the board, the dull offices, the competitive nature of just getting to the interview process, the long commute in rush hour.
It’s hard for me to write in such an open, informal fashion about this as I don’t think anybody has ever asked before. Being totally honest, it’s a breath of fresh air to be asked to consider the boardroom I want to sit in in 10 years time and to be able to speak in such a relaxed way. I am grateful that the Boardroom 2030 campaign gives people like me the opportunity to speak about what we believe should change. So, here are my top three areas I think businesses need to consider and tackle – head on – before 2030 and before I get to the boardroom.
I am sick and tired of hearing how the climate disaster is ‘now on the shoulders of the new generation’. I ask myself, why? It is not our fault that years of scientific warnings and reports have been largely ignored. It’s not our fault that we are hurtling towards disaster at a speed we can no longer control due to people in this world who still don’t believe in global warming. I can recycle, buy my clothes from Depop and drink oat milk all I want, but everyone knows deep down that this individual change – albeit a good change – will make little real impact on the world. Large businesses and Governments have failed us by not taking this seriously enough, and waiting until the final years before the point of no return to try and do something about it. Businesses have behaved rather like students, writing an essay the night before its due… but on a much larger, scarier scale.
So, what needs to change before I get to the boardroom? I know people will be much more inclined to go for jobs where care is at the heart of the company. It gives off a good vibe relating to how staff will be treated if there is a strong environmental aspect within the company’s framework. Businesses should be aware that they will not survive unless they are ethically conscious, whether this be internally through reducing, reusing and recycling, urging more people to work from their homes to save transportation emissions, or switching to renewable sources of energy. They could even invest in projects that produce zero carbon emissions, or supporting charities and cases where ecological progress will be made. You see?! So many options for positive change!
As world leaders are in Glasgow for the COP26 Conference, (many on private jets… the irony) I am encouraged to see climate change being taken that little bit more seriously. I hope that reform can come from this.
Also, the greater presence of B Corporations within the world of business is exciting too (I’m so happy to be part of one). I’m very grateful to know that there is this demand for transparency. For businesses to share exactly what they are doing to help the climate crisis.
I know there is hope for greater change, and I’m excited for that, but I also know that it is far away from being perfect. Businesses must do whatever is in their power to halt climate disaster and learn to love the world around us once more.
Representation in the workplace
Two weeks ago I had to explain to my grandma that a woman’s place is no longer in the home. As an 84-year-old woman, her views are still very much stuck in her time. I guess that’s just the way it is, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t put up one hell of a fight!
I refuse to hear anyone say that workplace equality has been achieved, it hasn’t. Simple as that. Discrimination and harassment are still present in the workplace, and its is absolutely unacceptable. I can’t get my head around the fact that it is still a major issue, requiring a continuing fight, even in the year 2021. This needs to change before I get to the boardroom in 2030.
The opportunity to work for a female CEO is refreshing and inspiring and I’m so happy to join the team. However, as I’m sure many women are aware, wage gaps, sexual harassment, lack of promotional opportunities and bias due to childcare, is all too familiar. Companies simply must find a way to completely eliminate this discrimination. Women are not inferior, we are equals, but the workplace experiences of women are qualitatively (and quantitatively) different to the experiences of men. Even in the UK workplace gender equality has yet to be achieved.
I’m aware that, as a white woman, I don’t have an understanding of what women from ethnic minorities go through on a daily basis. However, I do know from research that discrimination based on ethnicity in the workplace is very much present, and reform must be made to stop this. Societal prejudice is unacceptable, and I urge the companies that I’ll be sitting on the boards off, in 2030, to tackle diversity and inclusion as a priority. Success is not limited to one type of person. It’s no longer acceptable for middle-aged white men to still be at the top of the pecking order.
So what should employers do? How about collective workforce data to identify the structural and cultural barriers which are maintaining workplace inequalities? Creating policies that are underpinned by principles that encourage difference and actively encourage disadvantaged and disconnected groups access to mechanisms to express their voice?
Same goes for those who are transgender or non-binary, our societies stringent focus on gender norms is completely outdated, and it is about time we move to stop the victimisation of the LGBTQ+ community. I want to see moves from businesses such a greater level of promotion for women, non-binary and transgender people, the education of senior leadership on gender discrimination and the tackling historical gender norms, hiring and promotion through targeted recruiting and assisting with work life balance. Anything they can do to make a business more inclusive to their staff is a step in the right direction and represents the sort of board I want to be sitting on in 2030.
Work from home flexibility
As I type this in my joggers and fluffy socks, I’m getting all of my day’s work done at a very good, productive pace. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit us, and everyone was told to work from home (which two years ago would’ve been entirely unacceptable according to some), we have created a new work-life balance. I think it has done everyone the world of good.
Now of course I am aware that there will be millions out there who prefer to work from the office, and I respect that. I’m sure however, for the most part, people are grateful to be given the opportunity to work in their own space, with their own food and comforts – or at least the flexibility to choose. We forget how much the daily commute, the busy stations, the rush hour traffic and the 5am starts heighten our anxiety and that dreaded feeling of the morning blues. I think maybe the working from home aspect of Covid was a blessing in disguise. From those who are concerned with childcare, to those who live far away from work, I think that the continued flexibility to work from home could be a fantastic asset to companies and an incentive for many applicants.
I know compared to the other two points I’ve made; this one seems minor. But I know how much more comfortable I am in my own space, and how my productivity improves with that. I genuinely believe that having the right to choose our working environment will be a key part of the company I want to lead as a member of the board, in 2030. Businesses must be more aware of people’s comfort zones, their family commitments and their preferences on where they work, this flexible option portrays care. It shows that a company wants you to do whatever makes you the happiest, and trust me, that’s what people care about the most.
I’m so excited for what the future has to hold, I really am. I’m excited to learn new skills, create workplace friendships and I do genuinely want success. But, I can’t pretend I’m not scared about my path through to the boardroom… that things will stay the way they currently are. From societal rooted issues, to businesses changing their home working policy-change must be made all the way down this spectrum for business to become a place of want again, not just a place of need. I want to go into an office where I know staff, communities and the wider world are being taken care of, instead of the traditional money machine, self-interested, big business. This is the sort of board I want to sit on – that I will sit on – in 2030.