Lisa has created female talent programs which have led to the promotion of over 50 women in 2018-19 and her personal commitment has been recognised with a CEO Global Employee Award, recognition as a UK Culture Carrier, Emerging Leader Program and on the UK Gender Working Group. She is Co-Chair of EMEA Women’s Network with 3000+ members and creator/Co-Chair of Women Connect, spanning 9 locations, 700+ members globally and expanding.
Lisa has been shortlisted for the 2020 Champion for Women Award.
You won the Team Diversity Award in 2018 with Women Connect, what memories do you have of that day?
I shared the award with my co-chair Tanya Bhairo. It was being able to share the award on stage that made it even more special. It was also a real pleasure to re-connect with the other short-listers we had met at the dinner the previous month and so humbling to receive congratulations from them. We both had a sense of pride to be surrounded by so many other fantastic people who are pushing the gender agenda as we know we can’t make it alone. We were joined by our senior management team and were already receiving phone calls from other managers congratulating us. We knew this was going to give us a platform to grow Women Connect and were so excited to use this opportunity, that we started our planning straight after with the celebratory champagne.
What achievement are you most proud of since winning that award?
Women Connect has become a recognised brand across the firm and in 2019 we celebrated Women Connect in 9 locations with over 700 members. We didn’t stop there and continue to provide vision and framework for other divisions across Credit Suisse taking membership to over 1000 and growing. The program does not have budget and relies on senior management engagement and active membership. It encourages an open dialogue and sharing of ideas that facilitate the development of its members, in a confidential, collaborative and inclusive environment. Additionally, the programme delivers learning resources to develop a range of business, technical and interpersonal skills for participants to develop their professional toolkit and progress their careers. Women Connect has been a driving factor for the promotion of over 50 females and continues to be an enabler for women to progress by featuring in personal development plans and promotion forms. Senior management sponsorship has increased with visible management support of females participating in the program and taking leadership roles in the organising Women Connect activities.
You Co-Chair the EMEA Women’s Network (EWN), can you tell us more about that?
EWN is a site wide network for everyone; all employees across all titles, genders, gender identities and locations in UK and Europe, with focus on female talent. Our vision is to advance gender balance, leading events with senior management support and is linked to the CEO UK objective to retain and develop female talent. I lead a formal committee structure that focuses across a spectrum of topics such as; Career Development activities, including discussion around objective setting and promotion process, MD clinics and networking focused on two-way discussions around career and personal development and conduct & ethics topics, A targeted program to increase external Board membership (Women on Boards), mentoring available for all titles and genders, The Modern Muse Program for school level female talent pipeline (including those who identify as non-binary), A targeted program for female VP talent, linking internal women with external opportunities e.g. WIBF, WOB.
You work with your children’s school on diversity issues, what can schools do in practical terms to increase the number of girls taking STEM subjects?
Girls need role models and opportunities and we need to break down the stereotypes in schools. At an early age they need to be encouraged to explore other subjects which they might not think is ‘what girls do’. I have met with various children and spoken in assemblies about my role and have worked with the Head Teacher to consider use of language in school reports such as avoiding using ‘bossy’ for girls or looking at providing more encouragement /setting stretch targets on the stem topics. At Credit Suisse we have corporate membership to the Modern Muse charity and run the program as part of the EWN and have also been shortlisted for the team Diversity Award. We engage with female students (500+ per yr) providing opportunities to offer work experience, exposure to successful role models and a forum to obtain career advice. We are working with established and creating new school and youth career provision partners in order to reach as many young people as possible.
Do you think the current crisis and lockdown will affect gender issues in the long term?
Covid19 has in many ways disadvantaged women and disrupted the focus on gender. The women holding a job, and also schooling and caring for elderly and worrying about their performance at work. Covid-19 may also have distracted those allies who were driving the gender agenda. However, the ‘new normal’ presents opportunities. It has opened our minds on the flexible working and should enable more women to be considered for opportunities and promotions by offering a new way of working. We know that many leaders who have never worked at home before are now reconsidering a more flexible work arrangement. One of the key programs I run with EWN at Credit Suisse is the female coaching program and this year I will be focusing on BAME females. There are many areas of diversity that need our support right now.
Once travel restrictions are eased, were will you be heading first?
I can’t wait to hit the white beaches in the Caribbean to completely switch off screen time for the whole family and indulge in some relaxing culture. We all need it and Jamaica is a favourite. It’s just ‘when’.