Why We Need to Change the Equality Conversation across UK Plc

Earlier this month a group of business leaders gathered in Edinburgh to hear from Thorhild Widney, one of Norway’s foremost and experienced politicians. The leadership event was hosted by FWB Park Brown and supported by Ernst & Young LLP.

In a lengthy international career, Thorhild’s portfolio has included Minister for Petroleum and Energy, State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Culture and Minister for Fisheries. Experience now applied within the international renewable and energy sectors at Board and NXD level.

The discussion was wide ranging, covering the breadth of Thornhild’s ministerial and non-executive portfolio and the interests of those attending. We discussed Norwegian politics, the economic impact of social and progressive labour programmes, international energy politics and the governance and leadership issues within large and complex listed companies.

The audience, a mix of corporate lawyers, financier, academics, CEOs, FDs and senior industry leaders gained insights into the relationship between government, the Norwegian economy and business practice, learning lessons for Scotland and their own organisations in the international context and from the extensive experience of the speaker.

Overriding themes that emerged crossed business, politics and society and included the need for transparency in decision making and in action, the key role for business in changing working practices and the need for a framework of legislation that can act as triggers to change business and society behaviours. The homogeneity of many Boards and the issues this creates in terms of “group think” and corporate governance was also highlighted.

The audience experienced a masterclass in both big “P” and small “p” politics at a national and business level, they learned how to succeed in business through strategic and personal career planning and how to balance successful international assignments with family commitments.

It was an inspirational event, and one that demonstrated the nature of the national business and equality conversation that many women want to have at a Board and senior level across the UK. If it can be done in Norway, then why not here?

Dr Lesley Sawers
Executive Chair

GenAnalytics Ltd

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