UK’s first Women in Business Charter launched in Bristol to improve workplace gender equality

March 29, 2019

Bristol businesswomen are calling for greater gender equality – from pay to representation on boards – after launching the UK’s first Women in Business Charter in the city this week.

The move came from the city’s Women in Business Task Group, which was set up to champion and advance the careers of women and help improve gender representation in businesses across Bristol. 

The group is made up of women who represent organisations from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Chair of the task group Jane Ginnever, pictured, the founder of Bath-based business change consultancy Shift, said businesses could not reach their full potential if they failed to recruit and retain a gender balanced workforce.

“It has been shown that having more women in decision making positions makes a positive contribution to the ‘bottom line’ and to the way businesses are run,she said.

The task group is part of the Bristol Women’s Commission (BWC), set up in 2013 by the then Lord Mayor George Ferguson. At the time Bristol had become the first UK city to sign the European Charter for equality of women and men in local life.

The task group aims to enable businesses of all sizes improve their awareness of gender equality and understanding of what needs to be done, along with how to make necessary changes.

It will call for all employers across the city to lead by example and sign a pledge to commit to take action to promote gender equality in the workplace through the charter’s seven goals, which include promoting flexible or part-time work at all levels and increasing the number of women at senior levels and on boards.

The charter also calls for businesses to support more women through their organisation, a non-discriminatory promotion process and closing the gender pay gap.

Task force member Rav Bumbra, pictured, founder of recruitment business Structur3dpeople, said: “We are committed to working with organisations that align with, but also aspire to, achieving gender equality and inclusivity for all women in business.

“We aim to bring about improvements and to showcase pioneering approaches within the business community.”

Founding signatories to the charter include UWE, energy firm OVO, accountants Bishop Fleming, law firm Burges Salmon, Bristol Airport, executive recruitment firm Moon Consulting, billing and collections company Pelican Business Services and Bristol City Council.

Chair of Burges Salmon’s diversity and inclusion group Liz Dunn added: “As a founding signatory, we are delighted to support the launch of the UK’s first Women in Business Charter.

“At Burges Salmon, our key strategic aim for our people is to have an open, inclusive and diverse culture where the only determinants of success are ability and merit. Gender diversity is one of our diversity and inclusion priorities and one of the main areas we are focused on is the development and progression of our female lawyers and business professionals.

“We are therefore excited to be involved with this charter, to increase the visibility and opportunities for women in business and improve gender equality in the workplace.”

Bristol Airport people director Debbie Hartshorn said the launch of the charter was an important milestone for the city.

“By signing the charter, businesses are committing to driving change, proactively influencing gender diversity across all industry sectors, and enabling more women to realise their full potential, which can only be a positive force for our future,” she said.

Any business that signs up will select one or more of the goals set out in the charter and will work towards achieving them over the following year.

Businesses will set their own targets for progress and report what they have achieved annually in order to retain their status.

The charter is available for all businesses to sign up to for free. For further details, contact the Women in Business Task Group at



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