Inspiring Women

In good times and bad, British business needs strength in its leadership, in particular from those with fresh energy, new ideas and diverse perspectives drawn from different life and work experiences.

There is no shortage of experienced, capable and competent women who are willing to take their rightful place at the top table. There are examples of strong women leaders in every sector and women themselves can do much to inspire and support other women, sharing learnings and tips for success.

Caoire Blakemore & Carol Welch

Responsible Business Director & Chief Executive, A. F. Blakemore & Sons Ltd

"I was brought up to believe you can do anything you put your mind to regardless of gender but have realised this unfortunately doesn’t always translate into real life. I’m determined to use my privilege to level the playing field in driving inclusion and diversity. Working with those around you is the biggest strength you can have – to take advice and opinions from all kinds of colleagues makes for better business. But also spreading the ownership of Diversity & Inclusion depends on the strength of those around you also – it can’t just be a solo voice.”

February 2024

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Dame Melanie Dawes

Chief Executive, Ofcom

“Ofcom’s job is to make communications work for everyone. That's why we and the companies we regulate need to build diverse workforces that are representative of citizens and consumers across the UK.

We've been pleased to see progress in broadcasting with more women in senior roles on and off camera. Through our “Together in Tech” programme we're championing representation of women in the telecoms sector.

However, despite the rising number of women in senior roles the world is still not always comfortable with women having power. This is why we must keep working hard to support and champion women’s progress.”

Kerry Dryburgh

Executive vice president, people & culture and chief people officer, bp

“No woman should be left behind in our progress – no matter what their background.

At bp we're proud to be seeing change, with six out of 11 of our Executive Leadership team being women. But we know there is still work to do and we are committed to continuing this journey.

It is often said that you can’t be what you can’t see. Together, we can role model the teams we want the world to see.”

February 2023

Natasha Adams

CEO, Ireland and Northern Ireland, Tesco

“I am still in awe of what my brilliant colleagues achieved and the incredible women at Tesco who were so important in all aspects of our response, from quick decision-making, to serving the nation.”

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Baroness Morrissey


“If anyone had told me at the launch of the 30% Club and the Davies Review that a decade later, the FTSE100 would reach 36% women on boards and the FTSE350 34%, I would have struggled to believe them. At the time, women represented just 12.5% and 9.5% of those positions.”

February 2021

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Helen Gordon

CEO, Grainger Plc

“Women leaders matter because successful businesses should reflect the people they do business with.”

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Vanda Murray OBE

Chair, Marshalls plc

“It has never been my experience that women lack confidence or ability, or ambition. We have to challenge long-held myths and the poorly justified stereotypes about women’s advancement or ambition and shift the focus to organisational environment and culture. This is the real barrier to women’s progression in the workplace.”

Vivian Hunt DBE

Managing Partner, UK and Ireland McKinsey & Company

“Whilst progress on representation is perceptible, the pace of change remains disappointing. There is a need for far bolder action to make leaders accountable for participation, advance women into senior and technical roles, and tackle obstacles in the way of building truly inclusive, agile organisations.”

Mairéad Nayager

Chief HR Officer, Haleon

“A global business like ours needs to represent the diverse voices, views and experiences from all walks of life to better meet the needs of consumers around the world. I am committed to our ambition, but also recognise that we are at the beginning of our journey to build a fully inclusive culture, which closely links to our broader commitment to drive health inclusivity around the world.”

Erica Bourne

Chief People Officer, LSEG

“We need to continue to challenge ourselves to find new ways to develop our next generation of women leaders, and are committed to ensuring we nurture the aspirations of all our people.”

Fiona Cannon OBE

Chair, Surviving Economic Abuse

“Having a leadership team with a diversity of perspectives is proven to drive greater innovation.”

Late Brenda Trenowden CBE

Former Global Chair, 30% Club and Partner PwC

“The only way to truly develop the pipeline of executive women is to radically change the culture to be more inclusive. You can have as many diversity initiatives as you like and recruit lots of diverse candidates, but without a truly inclusive culture, none of it sticks. CEOs that don’t understand and address this, will find that their firms are left behind.”

Amanda Mackenzie OBE

Non Executive Director, Chair, Trustee

“Everyone of us has a part to play in ensuring that inherent in the make up of every company in Britain is equality. It should be a license to operate. Given the long proven business benefit, why would leaders destroy value by not treating women equally in recruitment, reward and promotion? ”

Alison Brittain


“The single biggest issue and the one that needs our greatest attention is that of the pipeline of female executives. Sadly, this is more a trickle than a torrent.”

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Julia Gillard AC

Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership & former Prime Minister, Australia

“Promoting leaders who role model inclusive behaviours and rewarding them for doing so, creates change.”

Why equality matters

Denise Wilson
Chief Executive, Hampton-Alexander Review

Liv Garfield
Chief Executive, Severn Trent

Colonel Anna Kimber
Chief of Staff & Business Development
Sandhurst Group

Lizzy Buss
Head of Business Development, EMEA & APAC
State Street Global Services

Major Nics Wetherill
Doctor, Royal Army Medical Corps

Melanie Richards
Former Deputy Chair, KPMG in the UK

Béatrice Butsana-Sita
Managing Director, Capita Networking Solutions

Inspiration from beyond the FTSE

“ Progress lost takes years to regain… I urge governments to put women and girls at the centre of their efforts to recover from COVID-19. That starts with women as leaders, with equal representation and decision-making powers. Gender equality and women’s rights are essential to getting through this pandemic together, to recovering faster, and to building a better future for everyone.”

António Guterres
Secretary-General of the United Nations

“ One of the criticisms I’ve faced over the years is that I’m not aggressive enough or assertive enough or maybe somehow, because I’m empathetic, it means I’m weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.”

Jacinda Ardern
Former Prime Minister, New Zealand

“ Gender inequality is an issue that touches almost every aspect of
society, we need to expand our coalition beyond just advocates
and activists. Imagine what’s possible if corporations, consumers,
shareholders, faith leaders, village elders and entertainers all begin
using their influence to set new, more equal standards and norms.”

Melinda Gates
Co-Chair Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“ And no country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.”

Michelle Obama
Former First Lady of the United States of America