As well as being the biggest economic contributor to the Northern Powerhouse, Leeds City Region is leading the way nationally in terms of senior female leadership on economic development and transport as women across the globe mark International Women’s Day 2017.
The six local authorities that make up the West Yorkshire Combined Authority – the councils of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York – are all led by female political Leaders and/ or Chief Executives.
Highlighting women in senior leadership roles
Last month, the City Region’s success in attracting women into positions of senior leadership was highlighted at a meeting of the Women in Transport All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to discuss ways of recruiting more women into the transport and engineering sector and explore how more girls and young women can be encouraged to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council and Chair of the Combined Authority’s Investment Committee said: “When, a year ago, Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake told the Guardian’s Susanna Rustin that there were ‘grounds for hope’ for more women in high-profile local government roles, she was right.
“Leeds City Region is now an area in which two of its six council leaders and five of its council chief executives are women.
“Ernst & Young recently reported that the most effective way of closing the gender gap was ‘leading from the top’ and in West Yorkshire and through the Combined Authority we are doing that.
“It is only by leading in this way and by example, proving and showcasing what women do that we can address this gap, including the pay gap, which last year saw women in the UK being paid on average 18% less than men, and male managers 40% more likely than female managers to be promoted.
“I'm delighted that members of the APPG are visiting the West Yorkshire Combined Authority next month following my invitation to meet women leading the way in transport, development skills and other key areas.
Three of the Combined Authority’s five senior posts, Director of Resources, Executive Head of Economic Services and Director of Delivery are held by women, along with the senior roles of the Heads of Legal and Democratic Services, Customer Services, Transport Policy and Implementation.
Cllr Hinchcliffe added: “I am glad to see women filling these vital roles, developing our transport infrastructure to underpin local economic growth and the creation of jobs.”
Marking International Women’s Day 2017
To mark this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations, the female Leaders and Chief Executives of Leeds City Region have shared their thoughts on the opportunities and priorities to ensure women are empowered to make their full contribution to the Leeds City Region economy.
Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council said:
“Sadly inequality remains a real issue for many women in Leeds, so it’s important we continue to challenge bias and speak out whenever we see women being excluded. We also have to make sure we celebrate achievement as there are many women in Leeds who lead and contribute massively to the success of the city.
“This year we have adopted the theme of International Women’s Day, which is “Be Bold for Change”, so the event is not just about celebrating achievement but also encouraging women and girls from all walks of life to realise their potential.”
Jacqui Gedman, Chief Executive of Kirklees Council said:
"I’m proud to be a leader in local government. It is my job to nurture talent and see the potential in others. For women it can be harder to achieve their ambitions and as a new Chief Exec I am in a fantastic position to help them achieve their goals."
Staff and Councillors at Wakefield Council have recorded video interviews to mark IWD, which you can watch on their website. Joanne Roney, Chief Executive said:
"Mentoring, nurturing and developing women in business is really important and it's everyone's job to do this. We need more women in leadership positions across all sectors, and that's the way we'll create a fairer, more equitable and even society".
Watch the videos on Wakefield Council's website
Mary Weastell, Chief Executive, City of York Council said:
"International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the exceptional qualities of women, their influence, determination and contribution in all aspects of life.
“We have many outstanding women leaders in business in York and I’m privileged to be among them.
"It is my ambition that this city is seen as one which leads by example to promote and enjoy the positive and essential contribution which women make to society every day.”