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Third meeting of The Queen’s Gallery Group at Buckingham Palace

The Foundation launched a new community – The Queen’s Gallery Group – at Buckingham Palace in April 2016, in association with Ms Elisabeth Hunka CVO, Director of HR, The Royal Household. We convened 30 of the UK’s leading professionals in the field of improving gender balance and bringing about broader change in their organisations, to share their experience and to stimulate fresh insights.

We assembled a excellent turnout of formidably talented HR and diversity leaders.

At the first meeting, the new network had the benefit of wonderful surroundings at the Palace when we met – the day before The Queen’s 90th Birthday.

After some very thought-provoking group and theme discussions, the outputs of which were shared with Chairs at the Colloquium, we were honoured by a tour of the current exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery by Jonathan Marsden CVO FSA, Director of the Royal Collection and Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art, together with two of the curators.

The group came together in the South Drawing Room for its second meeting in November 2016, holding a highly innovative discussion on strategic change in the HR agenda in relation to gender diversity. We were delighted to be joined by members of the HR team from The Royal Household, by Vice-Admiral Johnstone-Burt CB OBE, and by Jonathan Marsden, both for the discussion and for the reception that followed. A second research paper, summarising the work done by the group, was published in May 2017 and presented by the group at the Colloquium that month. Both papers were shared with Sir Philip Hampton, Chair, Hampton-Alexander Review to feed into his Committee’s work on FTSE Women Leaders and improving gender balance on boards.

The third meeting of The Queen’s Gallery Group marked something of a coming-of-age for the group, as we opted to move away from our focus on the five themes originally identified for discussion, and considered how we might best contribute to a next phase of insight. We set out, therefore, to share current thinking, insights and challenges, and to debate how the group might realistically effect change in the future.

The afternoon’s proceedings comprised three elements. First, we heard from Mr Stephen Frost, Principal, Frost Included Ltd, a globally-recognised diversity, inclusion and leadership expert, who prompted us to think about leadership as being about challenging norms, and our role as being about deciding which norms to focus on challenging the most.

We then welcomed Sir Philip, who joined us between his own meetings to brief us on the latest Hampton-Alexander Report, which was published two days after we convened. We were delighted to hear from him how valuable he found the inputs from the group, and were able to answer some questions from him about matters of concern, including aspects of the recent reports of harassment of women at work.

Finally, the majority of the session was devoted an open forum discussion of the group’s next steps. The group concluded that, following its work on the five themes, it would now like to adopt a ‘bigger picture’ approach. The focus for the group will now turn to a much broader debate, and the HRDs who are members of it will consider how organisations may look in the future, and how they might work back from that to start challenging norms and effecting real change.

The fourth meeting of the group took place in March 2018.