A male board member’s view on our all-male board
Before we set off, here’s a disclaimer. This is a personal post about equality and diversity written by a middle class white male...
When we post images of the GlobalWelsh Board we’re more often than not challenged on the diversity and gender balance of the Board members. The GlobalWelsh Board currently consists of five white, middle-aged Welsh men. The ‘lady’ is our amazing community manager.
“You should be ashamed of your gender balance,” the social media feeds sometimes tell us. And whilst we are far from ashamed of what we are building, achieving diversity and gender balance has been a challenge since day one. So how did this come about? Walter May (the founder of GlobalWelsh) ran the first Welsh entrepreneur conference in Wales.
From that, came the idea for building GlobalWelsh. Walter set out to find people who shared his passion for a better Wales and they are numerous, but sadly there were very few female entrepreneurs at the conference. In the years since this initial conference, we’ve approached many Welsh female entrepreneurs to help us and sought advice from Wales’ leading think tank on gender diversity in the workplace.
"The Welsh nation is full of passionate people who believe in dreams...dreams that can be realised...anything is possible!" @AnneBoden is founder and CEO of @StarlingBank - a mobile-only challenger bank transforming the UK banking sphere #MyWales pic.twitter.com/nEfUnrJfch— GlobalWelsh (@GlobalWelsh) November 20, 2017
But guess what?
Many of the super talented individuals we’ve identified as potentially ideal to join our board are often busy forging their own path and growing their global businesses. Many of those we’ve approached simply did not have the time to dedicate to this project at this point in the trajectory of their careers. Secondly, we realised that in actual fact - the onus is on us to solve this problem, hopefully with the help of our community members.
No one think tank, charity or organisation can help us solve our gender balance conundrum, this is a societal issue that many people are fighting to improve - ourselves included. In other words, we have to take responsibility for finding the right people who represent a more inclusive Wales. But communicating the context around all this can sometimes be problematic.
The immediacy of social media is wonderful, in that we get helpful, encouraging and constructive input daily. But it also means that comments can be fired out without understanding context and background.
I wanted to share a bit about the people behind the gender - the 5 men who at present make up our founding members. We all have our reasons for being involved and to date, not one of us has received any financial incentive for being involved. We do this because we want to help make Wales the best it can be - and along the way, we’re learning and improving. So please, meet the Founding Board Members (please note, this is MY somewhat rude description of them and not an official GlobalWelsh position!).
Dave Dean: an amazing coach and valleys-born entrepreneur who says “bo**ox” more than is healthy, but he's got a heart of gold will help anyone who needs it.
Walter May: he's old school but old school in that he's compassionate, kind, polite and treats people with dignity. What infuriates Walter (apart from me!) is how we talk Wales down. Walter often brings a Victoria Sponge to meetings - and a cake slice.
Chris Raybould: Chris is the suave one who is always beautifully turned out. An incredibly intelligent and articulate West Walian and our only Welsh speaker. Chris is always seeking to expand our horizons and he’s always the voice of reason.
Jason Smith: Jase is taking a break at the moment to focus on his acting career but I'd still like to include Jason, a sometimes grumpy ex-lawyer, ex-CEO of one of Wales’ most exciting social media companies, a leader in all things AI and analytics and also a co-founder of GlobalWelsh. Jason is also super passionate about Wales and what needs to be done to improve lives of those who live in Wales.
Nick Pearce: And then there is me, the noisy, tetchy one who may possibly win the crown at being the grumpiest one on the Board. I’m fine once I’ve had my tea though. I also probably clock up the most air miles of all our board members and have more stamps in my passport than Judith Chalmers.
I have been lucky enough to have my outlook on life be strongly influenced by my Mamgu (my ‘Gu) who went to Egypt during the war, and my mother. Mum dragged herself through an education, gaining a MSc at the age of 40 after attending many night schools. She had to give up her bank job when having my brother and me so she worked evening shifts as a hospital ‘supper lady’, temped, and ran our home. She eventually became HR director of a police force. The first female civilian in Wales to achieve this. My Mum’s role was contentious in the two police forces she worked, in that many policemen believed that her Chief Officer post belonged to a man and a police officer, certainly not a female civilian.
You can’t imagine the experiences my mum had to endure. I witnessed first-hand how upset and at times ill it made my mum after weeks of petty, vile behaviour and chauvinist comments. But she was strong and determined to overcome that inequality, to overcome the overt discrimination that saw her as second-best. She rose to the top and retired at the top. I know both myself and my brother continue to be inspired by what mum achieved.
My wife has like me, been in IT her whole career a developer, a technical team lead and program manager. She was the only female of over hundred undergraduates on her degree and although ratios have improved in industry over the years, she more often than not, works with only men. These women have inspired me more than anything, and confirm my belief that everyone's got a massive contribution to make to this world, if they only have the opportunity to.
So why am I telling you this?
I guess it’s a plea to the social media-ites out there. Please, before you judge us, take two seconds to get in touch and let's have a chat so you can understand the passion we have for raising aspiration levels in Wales. You will find a team of people who are working in their spare time to build a better Wales and maybe then you'll be inspired to join us and help us.
If you share our belief that Wales is underrated, a place of wonderful riches in terms of talent and environment, then please think about how you can donate some of your spare time to join us and help us. If you don’t have the capacity to help then please recommend someone who you think possess the right skill set to be a strategic global thinker.
Alternatively, maybe you have the ability and the passion to create an amazing impact and you’re just looking for the right project? Drop us a line, we would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org By the way - Check out our call-out for more board members and a post by Gemma our community manager on being the only female member of the GlobalWelsh team.