Carolanne is an experienced Coach and qualified Mediator. Passionate about working with leaders to drive real change on the Inclusion agenda she has a pragmatic style and is focused on fixing the ‘system’ rather than fixing the ‘women’ (or any other under-represented group!).
She is a Chartered Fellow of the British Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development and qualified in numerous diagnostic instruments. Outside of work, Carolanne and her Husband Mark live in Hertfordshire and have 4 children aged between 13 and 23, she is a member and student of the Royal School of Needlework based at Hampton Court Palace.
Carolanne was the first recipient of the WIBF Award for Achievement in 1998
You were our first winner back in 1998, can you tell us what you remember about that day?
Getting the Award was a total surprise. I didn’t know that my colleagues, who were at the lunch with me, had done a submission on my behalf. I was so totally proud, I remember walking home feeling about 6 feet tall! There is something about the recognition of peers that is purely magical. My Mum was even more proud!
What has been the most significant change within the industry in terms of inclusion since 1998?
So much! – for a start, thinking about that lunch, we all wrote personal cheques to attend! There was no Corporate Sponsorship and whilst the Banks were beginning to believe that equality was important there was a complete failure to act in a way that was going to make the material changes the industry needed for women to thrive. This was the era before enhanced Maternity Leave, when flexible working was unheard of and when women were routinely and systematically passed over for promotion in favour of their male peers.
That original group that I attended the lunch with were the beginnings of a group of women helping women together – the early seeds of what we would now call a Women’s Network. Fast forward to 2018 and you can’t pick up a newspaper without a news story related to gender equality - #Metoo, UK Gender Pay Gap Reporting and so on. All Financial Services firms now have a strategy about how to tackle gender equality, and it is taken seriously by investors, clients, regulators and the Government. Nobody has nailed it (just look at the Gender Pay Gap stats) but it is an unrecognisable landscape from 1998.
What practical measures should large organisations take to increase the number of women at a senior level?
Three things to enable a culture of gender equality to succeed:
1. Aspirational Targets
2. Management Accountability for progress
3. Measurement and regular progress on metrics on a feedback loop to the business
Three things that Leaders need to focus on to make a difference
1. Hire More Women
2. Lose Less Women
3. Promote More Women
Everything else is either window dressing or a means to achieving the above.
This year we have a new award for ‘Rising Star’ – what advice would you give to women just starting out in a career in banking and finance?
I would say this to her: “Focus on delivery – because ultimately that is how you are going to be measured every year. But you must also focus on expanding your network and making sure you are sponsored/known outside of your immediate work area. Do not rely on your boss to advocate for you. Find ways to connect with other senior managers by getting involved in projects or volunteering for something. Don’t stay too long in one role – try and build a diverse experience base because in 10-15 years’ time, the fact that you have a broader skill set and maybe have had some international experience will count for more than someone who has spent 15 years in one narrow area. Lastly, help the women around you, your peers, your junior colleagues and the senior women that you see. We need to be in this together.
Why do you think awards for women are still important?
They Showcase the amazing talent we have in the industry. They celebrate individuals which then has ripple effects to the teams and the communities they are in. For some award winners it has been the catalyst for them to be taken more seriously within their organisations.
You’ve talked about women being less likely to network than men, can you give us some tips on how to network effectively?
Don’t think of networking think of building relationships. When I go to an event my preference is to lock on to just one or two individuals and spend quality time talking to them, trading ideas and connection points. Afterwards, send them a note, forward a cool article that relates to your conversation, offer to connect them on to someone in your network who might be able to help with the project they are working on. If you were being super organised you would keep a note of who you met, when and what you talked about, but I rarely am that on top of that! Instead I rely on my memory and intuition that I will remember people and stories at the right time when I need to access them. It’s amazing that sometimes years go by before that connection becomes live again but pretty much it always works and in my experience, people are genuinely happy to connect.