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How to foster gender diversity at work: Tips from the Ladies Executive Club

  • 04/01/2017
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“Changing the world one woman at a time is just not fast enough.” That was the opening gambit from Averil Leimon, director at executive coaching company White Water Group, at the latest Ladies Executive Club hosted by Mortgage Solutions and TenetLime.


  • Averil Leimon, speaker, director at executive coaching company White Water Group
  • Lauren Bagley, marketing manager, Sesame Bankhall Group
  • Alison Beech, business relationship director, Spicerhaart
  • Karen Bowman, national intermediary manager, Leeds BS
  • Martese Carton, head of intermediary distribution, Leeds BS
  • Esther Djikstra, director of strategic partnerships, Lloyds Banking Group
  • Makayla Everitt, head of business development mortgages Simplybiz
  • Sarah Green, head of national accounts, Virgin Money
  • Gemma Harle, managing director, TenetLime
  • Maria Harris, head of intermediary sales, Atom Bank
  • Karen Hedges, group FS mortgage manager, LSL
  • Clare Jupp, director, people development, Brightstar Financial
  • Esther Morley, MD mortgages, Secure Trust Bank
  • Emma Payne, national account manager, Mortgage Brain
  • Toni Smith, sales operations director, First Complete
  • Louisa Sedgwick, director of sales, mortgages, Vida Homeloans
  • Debbie Staveley, managing director, BClear Communications
  • Liz Syms, owner Connect Mortgage Club and IFA

Sponsors and hosts

  • Gemma Harle, managing director, TenetLime
  • Paula John, editor-in-chief, AE3 Media
  • Victoria Hartley, group editor, Mortgage Solutions and Your Mortgage
  • Hannah Uttley, senior reporter and features editor, Mortgage Solutions
  • Oonagh Sheehan, commercial manager, Mortgage Solutions

Speaking to an audience of female representatives from some of the mortgage industry’s most notable firms, Leimon expressed her frustration with the slow pace of progress on improving female representation within organisations, arguing that there needed to be a paradigm shift in how women are recognised in their roles.

Leimon has worked with some of the UK’s biggest banks and firms from financial services to help grow awareness and support of female inclusion in the workplace.

But while many organisations have demonstrated an interest and eagerness to shake up the way women are represented in the workplace, the visible change to date hasn’t exactly broken the proverbial glass ceiling.

Here are the key considerations for individuals and firms for promoting and engendering diversity in the workplace.

Don’t be complacent, be confident: Expecting to be recognised by your employer by working hard alone is not enough, says Leimon. “My slogan has always been ‘changing the world one woman at a time’ and I’ve realised it’s just not fast enough,” she explains. Taking responsibility and confidence are paramount in achieving change in the workplace.

Be a role model: “Challenge your own confidence level, overcome it,” Leimon adds. “You need to make sure organisations know that you’re ambitious, that you want advancements, rather than sit waiting to be picked, because that isn’t the way the world works.”

The problem is that many women don’t recognise or realise that they’re role models, Leimon says. The perception that women don’t get along with other women can often hinder this, but showing support for a female colleague could be a great lifeline, particularly for younger and less-experienced employees.

…But also nominate male leaders: While we’re always looking for good female role models, there also aren’t enough male role models, Leimon notes.

“If we’re going to look at female strengths we also need to recognise male strengths, which are often about bravery and perseverance,” she says.

Be yourself at all times and play to your strengths: “Don’t let something like your perceived lack of self-confidence get in the way of achieving something. You can be influential without being aggressive and militant,” she explains. “Be the best version of yourself.”

Introduce quotas: Leimon uses the analogy of the 5p plastic bag charge as an example of how introducing rules has changed behaviour for the better. “When there’s legislation or rules, people wake up,” she explains.

Most people fail to understand the concept of a quota with many thinking that the requirement is to employ someone “with the right chromosomes”. “If you do something to increase the visibility of female talent, you’re more likely to attract the right people,” she adds.

Judge work on output: Dynamic working, agile working, there are all sorts of different words to describe it, but it’s important to promote flexibility to support employees, Leimon says. “If you’re judging on outputs rather than hours in the office or sitting at a specific desk the savings are enormous and the output goes up.”

With the warmest of thanks to our sponsor TenetLime.

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