As an organisation that incorporates both men and women’s perspectives, AXIS Network is promoting the concept of ‘better gender balance for better business’ in the industry.
It was when Jenny Junnier returned to work after becoming a mum in 2008 that the issue of gender balance and her role in cultivating diversity and supporting her peers really began to crystallise in her mind.
“Until then I’d been largely oblivious to the issue, but when I got back to work I started to think about what I wanted to do next,” she explains. “I began to see the value of becoming a role model: a professional person, determined to realise my potential in my career while also being a parent. I began to research the issue of gender diversity and joined a women’s network at my then employer.”
Now an Aberdeen-based senior audit manager at Deloitte, she believes it is a no-brainer that “with better gender diversity and balance you get better business”. It is this ethos that forms the bedrock of the Aberdeen X-Industry Support (AXIS) Network that she co-founded in 2014.
At that time, the fledgling network initially involved just a few like-minded individuals, but since then has grown to a membership of more than 600 people from 160 organisations. The group’s drive is to achieve gender balance in the workplace and to pursue very practical measures to achieve that goal. Its activities include networking and development events as well as role model/mentoring programmes. It also provides a personal support environment and an online community forum.
One of the key features of the network is that it isn’t a women-only environment – there are two men on the committee and around 20 per cent of the membership is male. “We’re trying to make the industry a better place for both men and women to work in. It has to work well for both genders if it’s going to work at all,” notes Jenny.
“We share a passion for making a difference and while we’re proud to have achieved a great deal, we believe we can do even more. We always want people selected on the basis of the best person for the job. Improving the gender balance means more emphasis on targeting women to encourage them to apply for roles. It also means supporting women inside organisations and developing a pipeline of talented women, so there are more potential applicants.”