On Monday 3 June, WeAreTheCity launched its 2023/24 Gender Networks report at EY’s London HQ at Moore London.

The Gender Networks report looks at the activities of Women’s/Gender Balance across a multitude of organisations and sectors. These activities include their strategies to attract, retain and develop female talent, as well as their budgets, event activities, how they are engaging with other ERGs in their organisations and how they are engaging men in the conversation The event was attended by the representatives of over 30 firms who also benefited from keynotes from Edwina Dunn OBE, founder of The Female Lead and author of “When She’s in the Room” and Julia Lynch, CEO of Global Girl Project.  Edwina spoke about the power of the invisible pound and Julia spoke about the power of Global Girl in terms of outreach to inspire girls all over the world.

In terms of our report results, it is clear that Gender Networks members have been contending with shifting people priorities inside their organisations and an external context that included a cost-of-living crisis, an ever-growing list of major societal events with global impacts, and a challenging set of narratives around DEI playing out in the media landscape. While some Gender Networks were still trying to find their way back to some form of normal in the post-pandemic environment, the next Industrial Revolution-sized disruption to how we work is already one foot in the door with AI. When we look back to how Gender Networks got its start, the focus then was on improving gender balance in organisations in the wake of the global financial crisis. While some areas like board representation have seen significant improvements over the years, the current dynamics are presenting real challenges to meaningful progress for our Gender Networks and for the people they serve in the wider workforce.

The 2024 report includes survey contributions from Gender Network leads at 40 of our member organisations across sectors. They shared information about their network structures, governance, and activities, and they provided us with their insights about who’s involved, what’s working and what’s not. A story emerges from this year’s results that talks about the opportunities our Gender Networks have for a renewed focus on good governance. About one in five networks said they did not have a clear mission statement and set of objectives that align with their goals. The same percentage again said they did not have an executive sponsor with defined responsibilities for representing and supporting the network, up from 7% in 2023. 40% of the networks said their chair does not have a defined set of responsibilities or a job description. While there is a greater focus on intersectionality across the DEI space, 23% of Gender Networks said they did not have specific efforts in place to ensure that the network is inclusive and welcoming to all employees. With those types of challenges present, it was unsurprising to see that 42% of networks said their organisations did not talk about their network as part of external reporting.

Survey results also showed that there is still a wide range in how organisations are approaching male engagement with gender-related networks. There are gender balance networks designed for men and women on one end of the spectrum, women’s networks with attached male ally communities somewhere in the middle, and women’s networks with limited opportunities for men to participate at the other end. The most frequently raised challenge by Gender Networks around engaging men was male assumptions that the networks are just for women. This has sadly been consistent over the past several Gender Networks surveys despite all the available insights on how men can be more effectively engaged in gender balance activity.

Gender Networks cited the most network activity around menopause, career development, allyship, and imposter syndrome/confidence building, but over one-quarter of them said they felt their network had not engaged with their event schedule in the past year. Low attendance was called out by Gender Networks as the biggest issue they are facing.

As the world is changing dramatically around us, we may be at an inflection point for the future of the networks striving for better outcomes in our organisations. We have a great chance to strengthen our networks, grow their engagement and lean into the innovation needed for us to get in front of the new challenges to gender balance ahead. As 2025 already looms on the planning horizon, we can do better in how we demonstrate the value of our Gender Networks to our organisations and communities.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Birgit Neu, Co-Chair of Gender Networks, and EY, Katie Byrne and Lucy Goody for producing this report.

If you are interested in joining Gender Networks as one of our corporate members, please get in touch via [email protected] or visit our website, www.gendernetworks.com.

Please note the full report is only available to Gender Network members.

If you head a Women’s Network or Gender Balance network and you would like to find out more about joining Gender Networks, visit here.

Photo gallery of the event

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