1 June 2016

Is the Northern Powerhouse becoming another politicians’ boys’ club?

It would certainly seem that way looking at the latest research from an equalities group. manchester skyline

A report today from the Fawcett Society highlights that the majority of top positions in Manchester are held by men – just one in seven senior roles is held by a woman in local authorities.

One in seven. It’s ludicrous.

How can there be any balance in local government when half of society isn’t represented?

Take the Greater Manchester Mayoral Election for example. Whilst the fires have been stoked by Andy Burnham throwing his hat into the ring, there are still no female candidates, and there are only nine days left for nominations.

It’s incredibly disappointing. The Greater Manchester Mayor will have more jurisdiction than Sadiq Khan has in London and care for the £5bn integrated health and social care budget.

As more powers are devolved to the Northern Powerhouse, is it better to devolve them to a local team that has the same ‘old boys’ club’ feeling as down in London?

The problem is it is across the board. I don’t know the exact figures but I expect that they are similar in London. It’s the same across boards of top British businesses and especially prevalent in the technology industry.

We had a great female leader for business and technology in the Northern Powerhouse in Claire Braithwaite of Tech North but that didn’t play out as we had hoped.

There is no shortage of women who could put themselves forward for one of these roles – especially for the mayoral role. Sir Richard Leese said that he had hoped that the successful candidate would be ‘twenty years younger’ than himself and ‘a different gender’.

For such a forward-thinking city and a future-minded initiative like the Northern Powerhouse, it seems strange that this has not been brought to the fore before now.

It is concerning, when paired with recent worries about the Northern Powerhouse, especially considering the leading the NP charge (The Department of Business of Skills) moved 250 jobs from Sheffield, closing its office and sending the staff to London.

It echoes my concerns about TechNorth being run from London rather than centrally here in the North. There can be no balance if the Northern Powerhouse is run solely by men, and there certainly can be none if the majority of people involved in the push are in London. Northern cities need to be run in the north.

What do you think, is this another nail in the Northern Powerhouse coffin? Is it down to businesses like ourselves to keep it going?

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