No Show Jenny (just round the block)

I attended the launch of the Women in Manufacturing Report at Broadway House, London on 13th May 2014. Terry Scuoler Chief Executive gave an informative speech on progress made – albeit more slowly in terms of Women as Board Members in the FTSE top 100 companies than would be liked. We know that in SME’s women in Manufacturing bucks the trends and one only had to attend yesterday to witness this. Danielle Calvert MBDA apprentice spoke at the event of her journey. Her enthusiasm that was infectious and how daunting this must have been for her, she was clearly nervous but delivered her speech with humor and a passion for what she is doing. Her message was clear we should continue to focus and support apprenticeships.

The keynote speaker was to have been Jenny Willott MP, Minister for Women and Equalities who was going to launch the report and deliver a speech on her work to increase women on boards, and the opportunities for women more broadly. Disappointingly however she failed to attend – more pressing business in the house! This leads me to ask how serious is the Coalition about Women and Equality but more importantly how serious are they about Manufacturing in the UK. Given that Broadway House is but a stone’s throw from the House of Commons (or just round the block) and this event must have been in her diary months ago I was left astonished but not surprised that she could not take half hour out of the day to meet her commitment to us.

Many men and women had travelled a long way to be in London (not everyone lives and works in the Capital) after an already full working day – Giving up what might have been time they would have preferred to spend elsewhere because it is a cause they believe in. They came to listen, to show they care and to support.

Had it been any of us in that room that in our working life had committed to such an event and then failed to show there would have been consequences, not least on what we consider to be our personal integrity, but within our own organisations questions would be asked as to whether or not this was acceptable behaviour. So why is it acceptable from an MP?

Even more puzzling this comes on the back of comments made by David Cameron who blamed Nick Clegg for the government’s failure to live up to its promises on promoting more women. The prime minister has blamed the Lib Dems for not been “pulling their weight” when it comes to appointing female ministers, having appointed such a Minister in Jenny Willott they now need to make sure she pulls her weight in terms of the title they have given her.

To summarise she is the Lib Dem Minister for Women and Equalities – at a Women in Manufacturing Event – as keynote speaker she was a No Show!