(written with Nicola Waterworth February 15, 2019)

The launch of the Pankhurst-Fawcett Scorecard, in the birthplace of the suffragettes, provides us all with a means to play our part in achieving women’s equality, and transforming the fortunes of Greater Manchester, the region’s employers in all sectors have a key role to play.

In launching the #GM4Women2028 Pankhurst-Fawcett Scorecard last week Helen Pankhurst was clear about her belief in it’s potential to be transformational. A transformation for women and girls, but importantly transformation for the aspirations of the whole of Greater Manchester to be a better place for all to live, work, learn and play.

 A big ask perhaps for a list of ten pieces of statistical data? A number of which were difficult to find and validate (a key point about the gender bias in data that is readily admitted).

We don’t think so. That’s why we are proud that Eve Holt is a founding member of #GM4Women2028 and Happen Together are part of the coalition. We have made our individual and shared pledges to #pushforprogress against this scorecard. We are committed to raising this conversation in all of our work with organisations in Greater Manchester as a central part of #workingwelltogether.

We have seen in the last year the power of data to document how much or how little progress has been made for women’s equality with the first reporting of the Gender Pay Gap. At Happen Together we have been strong advocates that #datamatters. Eve discussed last year how our work for #equalitybydesign has to start with the data on what needs to change. Speaking to politicians for the report ‘Women Power Politics’ the need for better data collection was viewed as critical for further progress to be made. And with the upcoming publication in March of Caroline Criado-Perez’s Invisible Women: exposing data bias in a world designed for men 2019 is certainly going to be the year #datamatters for women and equality.

But the data is not enough in itself. 

It only matters if data starts the meaningful conversation, results in action and is used to track progress. The significant role that all of the region’s employers – in the public, private and voluntary sector – have to play in changing the scores and creating this transformation was clear in launching the scorecard at GM Chamber and in their championing of this initiative.

Employers need to work with employees to get that conversation started. And when we say conversation, in the first instance we mainly mean listening; listening by those in the positions of power to those whose experiences are different, hearing their stories and understanding of what is behind the data.

While the data we need often remains difficult or impossible to find, that may well still be the easier part of the challenge. We know from the organisations that we work with that creating intentional spaces to have those meaningful conversations about where an organisation is, where it wants to be and what needs to change collectively and individually can be hard, and is definitely always uncomfortable for some. We also know that where leaders act with integrity, have the courage to connect with the complexity and support everyone to act with generosity and compassion the benefits for all of equality and diversity are seen in better places to work, with greater innovation and productivity.

At Happen Together we are looking forward to being part of this nationally unique and inspirational coalition blazing a trail once again for Greater Manchester in pursuing equality and social justice. Working with individuals and organisations to buildon their strengths and the pride of Greater Manchester to make this region the best place to grow up as a girl and as a boy. You can read more about the launch in this blog from Dr Kate Cook, MMU)  

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