What does diverse leadership mean to you? What does it look like?
What comes to mind when you think about diversity: gender, race, ethnicity, age, ability, languages, nationalities, religions or socioeconomic status? Themes such as cultural diversity, gender balance, recruitment and retention, pay gaps and flexible working have all become important discussion and research topics within the workplace and within schools in recent times.
To me, diverse leadership is not a tick box exercise, and putting together a conference that ticks boxes would not be ethical. For ASCL’s Conference for Business Leaders
, I want you to hear from a diverse range of voices with words to inspire you, and ideas that build on your knowledge to help you deliver continual school business improvement, whether these ideas come from inside or outside education. One of my core beliefs has always been to be an outward- looking leader and look at the practices of other leaders to challenge my thinking.
Diversity in school business leadership means integrated leadership that appreciates and respects a variety of skills, experience, gender, ethnicity, culture and personality types - all of which ‘live and breathe’ within a school’s culture. It means acceptance that all leadership voices within the SLT are equally important and valid, where we have safe spaces to agree and disagree, challenge barriers and create equal opportunity for success. And crucially, where the lead business professional is a valued part of the leadership team.
I have been reflecting on the future of business leadership in terms of its demographic: are we an ageing profession? Why are we predominately white female? Where will the future business leaders coming from, and are we doing enough to plan for future generations of business leaders? What are the barriers and what can we do to reduce or remove them?
Having Diverse Leadership as our conference theme for 2020 will be an opportunity for us to explore this sometimes complex and challenging but important subject, through our high-profile speakers and expert-led workshops.
I encourage school business professionals to reflect on the impact of the CPD they undertake, and I do this for myself too; there are takeaways from last year’s conference that I am still using and thinking about, such as workload management tips, considering the ethical leadership framework in decision making, and feeling inspired to be part of the change.
One of our conference keynote speakers is Maggie Alphonsi MBE, the England Rugby World Cup winner and commentator. Maggie’s website
highlights her amazing career and many achievements, and she is quoted on social media as saying “Embrace failure. Failure breeds success. Our greatest learnings come from failure.” This is a statement I think most business leaders would recognise - sometimes leadership is picking yourself back up or hearing what is not being said. But, do you know where your blind spots are?
Diversity for me is listening to lots of different voices and ideas, then deciding what will work for me where I am right now and where I want to be in the future. Ideas and thoughts that build, share and strengthen our professional confidence, and belief in yourself.