NORTHWOOD, United Kingdom – NATO's Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) and the UK Joint Forces Command (JFC) cohosted a Transformational Management and Leadership Conference on March 6, at Northwood Headquarters to discuss transforming leadership and leadership challenges on the occasion of International Women's Day.
The event was attended by approximately 100 people ranging from UK military, Civil Servants and defence contractors to military and civilians from NATO member countries. The conference, based on the theme for the 2017 International Women's Day "Be Bold for Change", featured special guest and key note speaker HE Ambassador Marriet Schuurman, NATO Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, who spoke about gender equality and its importance for the Alliance.
During her keynote speech, Ambassador Marriet Schuurman spoke about the importance of gender equality. She said: "Gender equality for NATO is not optional – it is fundamental. It allows us to respond smarter and better to today's security challenges. Mixed teams perform better and smarter. Diversity is our strength." She went on to say, "We have had some of our first-ever high ranking female roles at NATO in the past two years, and I want us to move past the first-ever roles to the new normal [of women working in senior roles]."
On the theme of "Be Bold for Change", the Ambassador stated that "Every change process requires great leadership. Change always faces challenge and resistance. We must promote gender equality as a matter of effectiveness, and make it relevant for the security challenges of today."
The conference also included two panel sessions. The first about transforming leadership, included Shuurman; MARCOM Commander Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone CB CBE; Director General Joint Force Development and Defence Academy Vice Admiral Duncan Potts CB; and Director Head Office in the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Alison Stevenson, sharing their experiences of gender equality and how they can implement it within the workplace.
The second panel, about working together: leadership challenges in a diverse culture, featured insights from panel members with civilian, commercial, charity and military backgrounds. Panelists included: JFC Director of Resources and Policy - Andy Helliwell, Operations Director for New Government Services at Carillion - Gemma Lynch, Head of Campaigns and Engagement at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - Ruth Shaw, Director of Client Services Combat Stress - Carol Smith, and Mission Manager for Syria, Iraq, Daesh Defence Intelligence UK MOD - Frances Tammer.
The themes that were echoed throughout the day included: having a support network to help break through the barriers; having confidence in your ability, plan and your choices; being bold to challenge negative behaviour, addressing issues as they occur, leading by example, considering what a person can do to practically make a difference, and recognize that gender equality isn't one sex versus the other and that issues can occur within the same sex category.