International Women's Day 2022: Interview with Tony Jackson

1. As head of Grafton what measures, do you have in place to ensure gender biases do not creep into Grafton?

I’m proud of what we do at Grafton as can be seen by the formidable female talent that we have in the business. I like to think that we are a very close team, we certainly all share the same values and are all committed to gender equality; we have a gender-neutral recruitment process in place for both internal candidates and candidates we recruit on behalf of our clients. That said, no business can afford to be complacent, so we’ve invested in diversity and inclusivity training so that all employees are aware of any unconscious biases they may have. We also work with our clients, advising them on their recruitment process so that they attract the very best talent, regardless of gender.


2. How do you create an atmosphere where female employees can thrive in your organisation?

Openness and transparency are two values that are really important to me. I like to think that we have built a culture where all employees feel they can discuss their career aspirations candidly and feel they are supported. As a relatively young brand, we are all passionate about building a culture as a company where people want to be and individual talents are recognised every day. The work life balance has shifted and we pride ourselves on flexibility which has allowed us to attract, retain and importantly promote female talent within the business.


3. How would you feel if you felt female employees struggling with the impacts of gender bias?

This would really disappoint me but, depending on the nature of the bias, it would equally motivate me to better educate and create an environment that is fully inclusive.


4. What can men do to help support and empower female colleagues in the workplace?

On the whole I think businesses have recognised the challenges that have existed for women and great strides have been made in addressing this. However, there is always more to be done. Empowering female talent starts right at the top with leadership and culture and should filter throughout the organisation. Focus groups, mentoring programmes and coaching are all effective ways in supporting female talent to thrive. However, managers also have an important role to play and, in my view, should receive coaching and training to better understand the different dynamics of their role. After all, the buck normally stops with managers with employees often leaving the manager and not the business. Good managers are skilled at building trust and openness, understand the potential of their team members and, importantly, proactively support them to excel.


5. Given that the number of women in FTSE 100 boardroom roles has jumped to 39.1% from 12.5% 10 years ago, how do you see the future for women in the workplace?

I think the future looks bright for female leaders as society is now starting to recognise the importance of gender equality and the significant value females bring to organisations in leadership roles.


6. Obviously International Women’s Day plays an important role, but in general do we think UK business does enough to celebrate women in the workplace?

Unfortunately, I would say no but the situation has improved over the last decade. International Women’s Day is great for refocusing attention but we need to be doing more for the other 364 days a year. It has to be owned by business leaders, that’s the only way to ensure female talent is recognised and celebrated more broadly.


7. As the head of a company where women make up a large proportion of senior roles, do you feel proud to work alongside so many strong and talented women?

Yes, I am delighted to have 60% of my leadership team made up of females, they bring significant value to the business and they are very highly valued by myself.


8. How does gender diversity positively benefit your organisation?

It is actually a proven fact that positive gender diversity improves organisational performance. From a personal point of view, I feel it allows for a broader difference in views and experiences and it demonstrates we are a forward thinking modern organisation and this can help us attract and retain the best talent.