Better gender equality in Norfolk’s boardrooms is key aim for new Chamber president

Fiona Ryder, president of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: Bethany Whymark

Fiona Ryder, president of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: Bethany Whymark - Credit: Bethany Whymark

Achieving greater gender parity in Norfolk's boardrooms will be a key goal for the new president of the county's biggest business organisation.

Fiona Ryder, who assumed the post at Norfolk Chamber of Commerce this month, said she will strive to promote equality and diversity in the upper echelons of the county's business community in her two-year tenure.

It follows revelations last year that women only account for one in seven board members at Norfolk and Suffolk's biggest companies.

Ms Ryder, managing director of TCD Media, said efforts to 'drive the agenda towards better senior management balance' fitted with the other key theme of her presidency: innovation.

'If we are going to modernise that is also going to include cultural modernisation,' she said.

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'No one would dispute that we still have imbalance in the boardrooms. But it is a well-known fact that businesses which have more balanced boardrooms have faster growth and better economic outcomes.

'This is not just us waving a female flag – we are saying that if we want to grow we need more balance. We need to make people question their senior management team composition and ask if it is going to be fit for purpose in the 21st century.'

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In keeping with this goal, the Chamber will be holding events throughout the year to explore the issue of gender balance in leadership.

Ms Ryder said Norfolk was a 'progressive and innovative county' but stressed that innovation should continue to be top of the agenda for businesses, especially in light of Brexit.

'Economically it could cause some very big challenges for the area and we are only going to survive those and thrive beyond if we innovate,' she said.

Before her current directorship, Ms Ryder was at the helm of Norwich-based broadcaster Mustard TV, run by publishing group Archant, and ran a digital content company in London.

She said she was 'delighted and honoured' to have assumed the Chamber presidency. The office has only been held by one other woman in the organisation's 122-year history: Britannia Cafe founder Davina Tanner OBE, whose tenure ended in 2013.

Ms Ryder said: 'I think we have a lot of work to do to create more balance in senior leadership positions but fundamentally, whether I am male or female, it is about doing the best we can for Norfolk.'

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