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Hilary Devey, Founder & CEO of the Pall-Ex Group

In terms of having my own business and starting from scratch I think there’ll be very, very few people that would have made the self-sacrifices and worked the hours that I worked to get that business up and running.  Having said that, I kind of brought females in right from the beginning, partly because I knew some with that background and I wanted them, I knew they were good.  So kind of from starting on my own that business has grown up with a female influence in it right from day one.

Have you been able to use your own experiences of reaching the top to help other women?

I have used my own experiences of reaching the top and the struggles that I had to overcome in my own business to mentor females on.  I’ve championed for the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Women in Logistics, Skills for Logistics, where we focussed on women and getting females into the industry, and have succeeded, and within my own empire, you know, I focussed on bringing women in.  I’ve not tolerated chauvinism or discrimination at any level, and if I have encountered it happening in my workplace then I’ve dealt with it very swiftly.

Binna Kandola, Diversity Consultant at Pearn Kandola

Without realising it I think a lot of organisations are putting militaristic type language into their advertisements, so they’re looking for somebody with gravitas, somebody with a big personality, is able to command respect from other people, who can execute their plans, who’s a great strategic thinker, can work well tactically as well.  I mean those types of words essentially come from the military world and as a consequence it’s more male-oriented.

Amanda McKenzie, Head of Marketing, Aviva

Gender diversity is very good for business.  All the stats show, you know, 42% higher growth for Fortune 500 companies that have at least a third of women on their boards, but I think across the whole company, I know people always say they want to reflect the customer base, I’m not sure that’s the sole reason.  I think it’s just the very fact the way decisions get made and you look at the way women’s minds tend to work and the way they contribute to a team.  I mean ultimately of course it’s diversity in its broadest sense that’s really important, but there are things that women bring and they are a bit more famous for being nurturing in a team and they will sort of help bring things out and have conversations.  They’re famous for actually driving better corporate governance in teams as well.  So I think on a whole range of dimensions we now know and the evidence is coming through that businesses are better; they’re better run, they’re better governed and actually they’re more successful. 

Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, Gender Management Consultant at 20 First

I think the next generation of young people moving in are going to be quite different.  I think they’ve grown up in a very different world.  They’re both used to girls performing as well if not better than boys all the way through school in every country.  They’re used to girls who are highly empowered, and they’ve been raised by a generation of parents who have I think on the whole really tried to equalise the gender roles and made for both men and women role modelling that it’s okay for women to become very professionally successful, and for men also to have a much wider spectrum of choices in terms of the careers they take and in terms of the roles they take on at home.  So I think we’ll get an interesting, very new kind of relationship between the genders and the expectations of what gender roles are in this next wave.

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