If I were Prime Minister: I'd work to improve the diversity of Britain's boardrooms

Our series in the run-up to the General Election – 100 days, 100 contributors, but no politicians – continues with the CEO of MediaCom UK

Karen Blackett
Monday 16 February 2015 17:22

So much of politics is adversarial – if one side wins, the other side loses. I’d rather look for win-win solutions.

There’s a tremendous amount of talent in this country. Some if it gets noticed, nurtured and rewarded. That’s good for the talented individuals and good for the country. But much of the talent out there gets overlooked or wasted. If we can increase the amount of talent that gets noticed, nurtured and rewarded, that’s a win-win for everybody.

How can we do this?

Let’s start at the very beginning. Some children in care never get the chance to explore their full potential. Every child in care deserves a system that places them with a suitable, supportive, loving family in a reasonable period of time. There’s room to improve the current adoption system, and establishing one national, overarching body with the power to consistently implement government policy would be a start.

Education should be a right, not a privilege. We need to lower the prohibitive university fees. But, at the same time, the academic route isn’t right for everyone. I launched an apprenticeship scheme at MediaCom (the first in the advertising sector), and it’s another win-win. Good for the company, and good for the individuals who seize their chance. We need greater support throughout industry for apprenticeships, with an improved minimum wage, and a guaranteed minimum number of jobs offered at the end of the programme (to stop employers using the scheme for cheap, temporary labour).

As PM, I would work hard to improve diversity in Britain’s boardrooms, and get more women and BAMEs on boards. This is another win-win. It’s morally right, and it happens to increase business success.

Tied closely to this is the need to offer more support for working mums – some of it financial, but also looking to create a culture which is more open to flexible working, and understanding the value that working mums provide to society.

Having given more people the chance to be successful, I will then ask them to pay something back. My philosophy is that you should “learn, earn, then serve”. I would introduce mentoring and leadership programmes in schools, where business leaders (and those successful in other fields) would be encouraged to help educate and develop the next generation.

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