Award winning inventor, CELIA GATES asks the question: STRATEGIC OR CONTROVERSIAL – WHERE ARE ALL THE WOMEN?

We know the business world largely consists of majority men. I’m not here to reiterate reality but I am going to question it. Growing on an entrepreneurial journey, a powerful lesson once flipped my perception of sales. As a British Creative, uncomfortable with the concept of ‘selling myself’ it was refreshing to realize ‘sales’ was not about me. It is about the responsibility, duty or service to inform you of options you’d benefit from, that you may not know of.

There’s a need to share learning.  Successfully investing in diversity inclusion initiatives and innovative leadership training schemes can deliver returns on investments upwards of 1:5. Having at least one female on a board cuts the risk of the company going bust by 20%. When more than 15% of senior managers are women companies show 50% higher profitability than when female senior managers equate to less than 10%. Furthermore, companies with above average diversity on their management teams show 19% higher innovation revenues, according to recent studies done by

The statistics support the benefits of building inclusive and diverse teams, seen practically as immediate uplifts in innovation, improved operational performance and dramatic reductions in safety issues and related risks. Organisations with strong inclusions strategies are much more likely to lead their sectors than those who do not invest.

Why are more people not investing in inclusion?

Misinformation, misrepresentation and the result of failed initiatives do little to inspire action. The anger, frustration or pain levels felt by specific sectors are not at significant tipping points to stimulate substantial, internal shifts. Comfort is conforming to the status quo. Questioning is perhaps boring or repetitive – “give over Celia, you’ve won this battle – there’s no need to go there again”. Questioning may be pretentious or provocative, causing recipients to retaliate in defensive ways, disrupting constructive communication. Neither is the intention.

On a macro and micro level change is perceived as seemingly slow to take shape. Inherent in the roots of society and embedded deep in our minds as leaders, prevailing perspectives exist, conditioning the cultures of our workforce and holding back a willing wave of diverse people wanting to be involved. Strong talent exists but seemingly this is blocked behind barriers that remain intrinsically illusive to identify and cause candidates to be under or over-looked.

Do we need more quotas?

Much responsibility is still being placed on women and minority groups to construct and lobby for the necessary changes; to develop exceptional skills, create opportunities and then widen corridors for others to capitalise. Such expectations seem unnecessarily unforgiving when the benefits of opening access are so rewarding. Prevailing power positions often fail to perceive the advantages, business values and profits. Pushing too hard for rapid reform risks penalties in personal progress. Frustrations are inevitable but not conducive to the constructive collaborations required if real results are to be gained.

That is why I question.

Walking into a room full of men and asking where all the women are, used to be controversial. Now, it is simply suggesting a sensible business strategy.

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