60-second interview with Rina Goldenberg Lynch

Rina Goldenberg Lynch, 7/6/2019

Rina Goldenberg Lynch is Founder and CEO of Voice At The Table consultancy, London.

What does your firm or organisation do?

Voice At The Table is a gender diversity and inclusion consultancy, set up in 2014. In essence, we make organisations more women-friendly. We do this by developing inclusive teams and leaders.

You will be speaking at the STEP Employer Partnership Programme (EPP) Summer Forum later this month, which is on employee engagement. What will you be covering?

I will be talking about how work culture plays a big part in attracting and retaining women, and how an inclusive workplace enables women to contribute more fully.

How important is employee engagement to the success of an enterprise?

In my experience, an engaged employee will contribute over and above expectations. An engaged employee will deliver not only what the job description requires but also his/her own experiences that lead to creativity, innovation and new business opportunities. Organisations that understand that and are capable of engaging their employees stand to reap the benefits of growth and success.

What would you say is the best way to improve employee engagement? Can this be measured?

In my experience, the best way to improve employee engagement is very simply by respecting the full individual and allowing them to bring their whole self to work. This requires incredible flexibility and understanding, so businesses that are less structured and hierarchical can typically adapt quicker. How easy or difficult it is to bring your whole self to work can be easily measured through surveys and focus groups.

Can you give any examples?

One European automotive company in the UK decided to do away with formal attire at the office, allowing people to dress casually and express themselves more through their dress sense. By doing this, the company allowed its employees to decide for themselves what is suitable attire for the office. This led to a more relaxed environment, where people were more willing to share their views and ideas about everything from the office surroundings to marketing trends from other sectors that would previously have not been considered. This was such a successful change that the company introduced it in its HQ in Germany.

Where do people go wrong?

In my experience, it is easy for people to tell others how to behave and hold themselves to a different standard. If we want to create a fully-inclusive workplace, we need to lead by example. Admitting that we don’t know how to do it, and that we are all going to learn together takes a lot of courage and earns a lot of respect. Inclusive environments don’t succeed where leadership sends mixed messages by saying one thing and doing another.

What external resources are there for employers?

I’ve listed a number of resources on my website.

How did you get interested in the subject, and how do you see it developing?

I experienced artificial barriers to my own success when I was part of a big company. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t progress, while my male peers appeared to have no trouble at all. I’d hit the proverbial glass ceiling.

I realised that one factor was my own lack of belief in myself, and another was the invisible double standard that applies to women in organisations. Women are measured by criteria developed by men for men, including speaking assertively, being direct, and showing initiative - but then judged as abrasive. The implication is that they don’t have the capabilities that accompany their show of confidence.

Once I became aware of these artificial barriers, I became passionate about enabling women to break through them, initially by mentoring women and by creating awareness. If we are able to measure women by output rather than working style and preference, businesses and women will both benefit: businesses because they will enable women to give their best contribution; women because they will be motivated to give more.

My hope is that that more companies will stop looking at diversity and inclusion as a solution to a problem, and see it more as an opportunity to grow and thrive.

Which social media channels do you use and why?

I’m on LinkedIn – I like this platform as it is brings together professionals on various topics. I use Twitter @voiceatthetable and @rinagoldenlynch mainly to keep up with what’s happening and to spread my own news and opinions.

Rina Goldenberg Lynch is Founder and CEO of Voice At The Table, a gender diversity and inclusion consultancy that helps organisations develop work cultures that are based on respect and appreciation for individual differences. Prior to that, Rina worked as a banking lawyer, having started her legal career in Washington DC.