Speaking at the inaugural Women’s Executive Finance Forum (WEFF) annual lunch last week, Pollard shared some of the hurdles her job presented her with as a pioneer for female editors.
“First there was no maternity leave and no maternity pay,” she said.
“I had to learn to network with men, so I can remember putting Claudia (Winkleman, her daughter) to bed and then going back to the pub because when they got to know me they saw me as a human, not as a woman.
“And that was better – so I managed to slowly climb up the slippery slope,” she added.
Pollard also revealed some of the tricks of the trade which were used by men to keep the illusion of presenteeism alive.
This included the two jackets stunt where a man would leave one on the back of his chair, pretending to be in the toilet and wear a second jacket in the pub.
And she was often castigated for being a working mother.
“When I said I was going back to work, people would tell me my daughter would be a disaster because I wasn’t spending her entire childhood with her,” she said.
“I do hope to write a book to make women who have children and work not feel guilty because they turn out alright.
“It was a completely different atmosphere,” she added.
However, Pollard noted there were times where the importance of being a mother was recognised – including by hard-nosed publisher Robert Maxwell who owned Mirror Group Newspapers.
Pollard described one situation where she was late to a weekly editors’ lunch with Maxwell.
Having castigated two other editors for arriving late, she then apologised for her delay due to family reasons. Maxwell replied: “Ah family. The only valid reason to be late.”
Help and advise each other
Pollard is also one of the founders of the Women in Journalism group and has seen membership of that body grow significantly.
“I’m very glad to be here on your very first lunch because I did start Women in Journalism very similarly to how you started this organisation,” she said.
“We developed and now we have around 800-1000 members, they help each other, they advise each other and there is a friendly air.
“We don’t let men in, but having looked at this I think maybe we will once a year. It’s rather nice to see you and it’s rather nice that you’ve chosen to be a part of this, which is fantastic,” she added.
Mortgage Solutions group editor Victoria Hartley introduced the WEFF initiative, which follows on from the long-running Ladies’ Executive Club.
“The WEFF is an important gathering of influential women, and men, in an inclusive network for discussing and promoting the key themes around creating a more balanced and fairer mortgage industry,” she said.
“The initiative is designed to create an environment that will help women feel fully supported within the mortgage industry, ensuring success is rewarded for hard work and ambition, and a valuable networking environment exists to promote learning and success.”
Over the next 12 months the WEFF initiative will be delivering a series of events to inspire members to acquire and enhance business skills, access valuable networking and be part of entrenching balance and diversity in the Mortgage Market.
Fair and balanced workforce
The WEFF has two streams, Leadership and Executive, each with their own quarterly events which will feature speakers from within the mortgage and parallel industries.
These will cover a broad range of pertinent topics, including understanding and dealing with mental health issues in the workplace, leadership and motivation, building resilience and positivity, successful media management, how to be a success mentor and understanding diverse perspectives.
“We are indebted to the support shown by both our founder members and the lunch sponsors, all of whom have enabled us to launch this important initiative,” Hartley continued.
“We want to promote the benefits of a fair and balanced workforce, which is good for business, good for customers and good for the industry at large.
“We genuinely believe we can improve workplace culture, and we are sure these events will provide the platform for positive change,” she added.
Anyone interested in supporting or joining the WEFF initiative should contact Iain Cartlidge on firstname.lastname@example.org