Brenda took part in a Q&A about her work in the 30% Club, and how it links to her role at ANZ.
Q: Can you share what inspired you to get involved in the 30% club?
A: When the 30% Club was being formed, I was actively involved in the City Women Network, the oldest women’s network in London (celebrating 40 years this year). While I believe that there is a real need for women’s networks to provide support, encouragement and professional development, they have not had much impact in getting women into senior roles. I liked the idea of a campaign that was driven by both women and men to achieve greater gender balance because it’s good for business and I felt that it was something that I could really get behind. It gives me a great sense of purpose, I meet with amazing business leaders and investors from some of the world’s largest companies, and I feel like we are having an impact. It’s great.
Q: What does this group aim to achieve?
A: Originally our target was 30% female representation on the boards of the largest listed companies; we are now very focused on building the pipeline and achieving 30% female representation in the senior leadership teams. Our aim is to influence change with 3 key stakeholder groups: (1) the Companies through signing up their chairs to set a 30% target for the board and signing up CEOs to set a 30% target for the senior leadership team, and also through an HR Best Practice Group, (2) Public Policy through interaction with all of the relevant government departments and task forces as well as testifying on select committees and working with the Financial Reporting Council on Corporate Governance Code and (3) the Investors. We have Investor Groups in the UK, Canada and Australia comprised of some of the world’s biggest asset owners and asset managers and these members meet regularly to review progress amongst their investee companies and often meet the company CEOs and Chairs as a group to engage on gender diversity. In the UK the Investor Group has 32 members and £11trillion in AuM.
Q: What have been the key achievements during your time in this role?
A: I developed the CEO campaign in the UK and have grown our signatories from 2 FTSE100 CEOs and 2 FTSE250 CEOs in September to 37 FTSE100 CEOs and 28 FTSE 250 CEOs today. I have also been working to increase the size and engagement from the Investor Group which has grown from 7 members and £1.6 trillion in assets under management (AuM) six months ago to 32 members and £11 trillion in AuM today. We have had a number of very successful company engagements resulting in more women on boards and members are much more collaborative than ever before. We have also grown our international chapters to 10 with more planned to set up over the next year. Our cross company mentoring scheme has grown from 8 organisations and 75 participants in 2013 to 101 organisations and 1972 participants this year.
Q: How have you adopted some of your learnings to your work at ANZ?
A: I have learned a lot about leadership, public speaking, strategy, stakeholder management and influencing skills which I believe are useful in any organisation. I have also found that all of my clients are very interested and engaged in the topic of gender diversity and many have asked me to speak at their offices or to their senior leadership teams about the work that we are doing. It’s been a really great way to enhance and expand the relationships with our customers and to make connections with the C-Suite executives on a topic that’s critical to us all.