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Talking Point: It's time to make a difference

Talking Point: It's time to make a difference

Yorkshire businesswoman Heather Jackson, founder of the Women's Business Forum, explores how it is "time to make a difference".

We've all sat in those meetings and conferences where loads of good ideas bounce around, everyone feels uplifted and energised to act, and then nothing happens. You then go to the follow up meeting or a similar conference, same energy, same proactive feeling and once again nothing happens.

It's a cycle we've all been through, I'm as guilty as the next person. But imagine if those meetings and conferences were happening in the media and in speeches from business and political figures. Same amount of warm words, same amount of will, same amount of people bought in and supportive 'saying, yeah you're right that is bad'. But once again no change, nothing. All the right sentiments but no action. End result, perpetuating problem.

The Women's Business Forum is not one of those conferences.

I've been working on the issue of optimising female talent and promoting gender balance since 2008 and my mantra has always been 'proactive, collaborative, practical'. These three words have often been noticeable in their absence from initiatives designed to tackle the issue, but for the future profitability of business (and the wider economy) and to plug the holes in the female talent pipeline, these words need to become bywords and no longer by-passed.

The theme of this year's Women's Business Forum is 'It's Time…to make a difference'. I've chosen the theme because after the publication of Lord Davies' 'Women on Boards' report earlier this year, the positivity I'm getting from chief executives and global heads of diversity and HR from some of the UK's best known brands, and the fact women are now beginning to see why they need to aim high, we can no longer afford to pay the issue lip service.

Taking place on Thursday 29 September at Rudding Park Hotel near Harrogate, the second Women's Business Forum will blow last year's out the water. I've put together a world class line up of business speakers to inspire and educate a guaranteed audience of 650 (80 per cent women, 20 per cent men) of the current and next generation of business leaders from across the UK, Europe and the United States, why the optimisation of female talent is key to a profitable future.

Before you think it, this isn't just another women-only-chocolate-fondue-and-handbags do-da, it's a serious business conference on a serious business issue. Yes, it focuses on women and how they can best realise their potential, but with all the research showing that optimising a female talent pool is good for profit margins, market share and share price growth, surely no current or aspiring male business leader can fob it off in preference for the golf course?

The time has come to change. The time has come to act. It's time to make a difference.

We can solve this issue without quotas, and if we get the model right we could lead the world. Want to be part of that?

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