Guest blog: Leadership is at the heart of tackling poverty

Catherine McWilliam IoD

Catherine McWilliam,
Nations Director,
IoD Scotland

Much of my time is spent challenging existing perceptions of the IoD. Our membership is not made up of stereotypical leaders – suited, booted and stepping off a London red-eye. Thankfully, leadership comes in many forms.

Three quarters of our members are from the private sector, and most are SMEs. The majority employ less than 25 people, and their employees live in the immediate vicinity of their workplace.

When chatting with members, I frequently hear about the power of local; local communities, local economies and local connections, with leaders outlining how their organisation is deeply rooted at the epicentre.

Therefore, as local leaders, IoD Scotland members have a key role to play in supporting their communities to thrive, and not just survive.

In August, IoD Scotland joined other businesses, public and third sector representatives in attending a Scottish Government roundtable with Neil Gray MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work and Wellbeing Economy.

The session explored how to engage businesses in discussions and solutions to one day eradicate child poverty. Following the valuable discussion, my answer was clear: leadership.

Leadership from Government through strong progressive policy; leadership from third and public sectors on the anti-poverty services we need; and leadership from private sector business through buy in, attitudinal and eventual culture change.

Within this, IoD has an important role to play not just as a cross-sector body, but as an organisation championing good governance and leadership.

We need to encourage and support members to have conversations about fair work, and how leadership can create positive and purposeful employers.

These conversations won’t be easy, especially following the turbulence of Brexit, an energy crisis, and inflation. However, leaders can set a tone in their organisations which:

  • encourages a supportive and inclusive workplace;
  • ensures employees across all levels and roles feel valued and trusted;
  • explores how to equally support wellbeing and productivity;
  • and creates an environment where every voice and opinion matters.

IoD Scotland supports members through partnerships and collaborations which highlight and demonstrate how to embed best practice – which is often the hardest part. While we won’t have all the answers, we can raise awareness, facilitate discussion, celebrate success and share lessons.

So, IoD Scotland members, my call this Challenge Poverty Week is this; How can you create a workplace culture which supports fair work, inclusion and wellbeing? Your community is counting on you.


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