10 Paula Kahn on the purpose of setting up the Bentinck Group
We wanted to look at the whole issue of where women were in the business, and we wanted to see what we could do to support greater diversity in publishing because we believed that would produce better and more relevant publishing and businesses than we had where they were stifled by not using all their talent. And we knew that there was loads of talent in the business, men and women, and they weren’t all used to maximum advantage, it seemed a waste of human resources. So I think that we just hoped that maybe by looking across publishing we could get a groundswell going and people would really start to think about this more pro-actively than they had in the past.
On the whole, a lot of work had been done in terms of maternity leave, a certain amount of flexible working. There were women, sprinkled across the industry in very senior positions, so we weren’t working from an impossibly low base. But how did we make it more systemic? Women wanted to get to these jobs but the environment was just such that sometimes they thought, “I’m going to walk away.” ” Am I ever going to be able to do it?” I thought it was helpful to have it spoken of. In some ways revealing what people knew but putting it in black and white is often helpful, I think.