Ruby UK is putting Aussie women on top
On 4 September, Ruby UK – a global women’s networking group – hosted a reception at Australia House in London. The event was in support of the charity Dress For Success, which assists disadvantaged women find employment.
THE old saying goes that ‘there is strength in numbers’. When those numbers include professional, Australian women, the potency potential is exponential. On 4 September, Ruby UK – a global women’s networking group – hosted a reception at Australia House in London. The event was in support of the charity Dress For Success, which assists disadvantaged women find employment. The keynote speaker for the night was the Editor of Glamour UK magazine, Australia’s Jo Elvin, and she eloquently spoke about her incredible journey to one of the top jobs in UK journalism and how the support of her mentors helped her gain fashion sense and a roadmap to the top.
With the recent focus on getting more women on boards of directors, Ruby UK’s launch is timely. Ruby UK is not your typical networking event. For one thing, there is no selling – only the hum of conversation and the occasional hearty, Aussie laugh over pies and wine. It offers a platform to all professional women to exchange ideas, share knowledge and become inspired. The other thing is that we all speak the same language of support and encouragement for our compatriots. One of the benefits of living away from home is the instant connection we make with our fellow Aussies. In the resplendent surrounds of Australia House, we were proud, professional women, sharing stories and finding relief that everyone else finds it hard to explain “daggy” to the English.
Ruby UK is the sister of the successful Ruby Connection in Australia, which was launched in June by Larke Riemer, Director of Westpac Women’s Markets Australia, who is recognised globally for her contribution to empowering women. Currently, Ruby Connections has 23,000 members. The allure of the British affiliate – Ruby UK – is in its roots and in the calibre of women involved in the initiative. Its all female board is made up of representatives from Westpac, Robert Walters, Julia Ross, Hays, the Government of South Australia, HiFx, BDO, Aussiepreneurs and Australian Business.
An all female board is a large cry from a typical business organisation. Within FTSE 100 companies, only 17.2 per cent of women hold directorships. The FTSE 100 is aiming to have 25 per cent of its own board made up of women, by 2015. The EU is currently proposing rules that will force larger listed companies to have women represent 40 per cent of their non-executive directors, with harsh penalties for breach. The debate about mandatory quotas has been raging for years. Although evidence suggests that an even split between men and women on boards can lead to better results overall, progress remains slow. The reasons are multifaceted, including not having a wide enough talent pool from which to pick from.
This is where the likes of Ruby UK change the momentum of the debate. Through the simple concept of getting women together to talk about life in London and their professional endeavours, Ruby UK is part of a global movement that is empowering and inspiring professional women to take charge. With access to role models and mentors from whom to learn from and be inspired by, should any of its members wish to move to the next level or sit on a board, there is an abundance of support available. And if we are to help to bring about change, we need to be the change.
Women can connect with the network on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook: Facebook.com/rubyuknetwork