"This is absolutely not about “add women and stir”"
As the nominations period for our Women's Recognition Awards continues, we're bringing you a closer look at our judges and why they chose to be involved in our inaugural Awards programme
FR: Why did you decide to join the judging panel of the Financial Reporter Women’s Recognition Awards?
HM: I am not exactly feeling militant because that isn’t likely to achieve much, but I do feel that doing something positive and productive is the right way to go. Women have a tendency just to get on with it and we can forget to celebrate our achievements. These awards tick the positive, productive and recognition boxes and then some so it was an easy decision to say yes to the responsibility of being on the judging panel.
FR: Why is gender parity in financial services so important, and what more could be done to ensure equality?
HM: This is absolutely not about “add women and stir” however as Simon Fanshawe, one of the founders of Stonewall and Co-Founder of Diversity by Design said recently - whist none of us has anything at all against white, middle-aged, middle-class men it is hard to believe that most of the top talent sits in that single demographic.
Whether it is about avoiding group-think around the Board table or mirroring your customer base, gender balance makes good business sense. There is no silver bullet to fix this – success will come through multiple actions by men and women. It has to start in our education system and needs to include real social change in areas like men being better accepted in wider society as carers. The Women in Finance Charter also has a place as it sends a very clear signal.
FR: Tell us one woman who has inspired you, in or outside of financial services, and why.
HM: Alison Hutchinson is someone I worked with at Barclays and again when she became the Chief Executive of the Pennies Foundation. I joined her tiny team to launch this charity which brings together payment services technology, retailers and charities and raises money when consumers round up to the nearest pound when they buy stuff.
Alison is indefatigable and has massive amounts of energy, motivation and vision. But with all that she is also warm, human and really cares about developing her team – whether that is direct encouragement or making someone really think about how to do something better. She is a NED at Yorkshire Building Society now too.
FR: Why is it just as important for men to be involved in the push for gender equality?
HM: The short answer is if they aren’t it will always remain some kind of cause or campaign rather than a given in our society. We have to be in this together.
FR: And lastly, why should people vote in the 2018 Financial Reporter Women’s Recognition Awards?
HM: It’s your chance to do something positive to recognise women who are real achievers. Please go for it.