Lee Ranson

During Lee’s tenure as Managing Partner and now Chief Executive, Eversheds Sutherland has elected its first female Chair and met its initial target of having 25% female partners in the business one year ahead of the set timescale. The new target is 30% by 2021. Lee personally leads on Eversheds’ D&I strategy and appointed its first Gender Champion and Diversity & Inclusion Partner Sponsor in 2019. He was the first member of Eversheds’ Gender Network, which is currently working to engage male champions across the business as part of the #balanceforbetter campaign. Every year International Women’s Day is celebrated across the firm, with the day kicking off with a personal video or message of thanks from Lee and a celebration of the talents and contributions of female colleagues. He also launched Eversheds’ Development Plus programme to support career progression of women at the firm. Externally, Lee is a frequent speaker and panellist at legal industry conferences on D&I and is often quoted in the legal industry press.

Gavin Bounds

Following his analysis of some unfavourable data regarding gender balance, Gavin became the new Chair of the D&I Council, creating a gender action plan which is unequivocal in its approach and clearly aligned to the business strategy. It is a personal challenge for Gavin to eradicate the gender pay gap in the next 3 years. Gavin’s hard work has contributed to drastic improvements in gender diversity throughout the region. Gavin has made monthly calls on progress, challenging the under-representation of women at higher levels. He is taking decisive action to address gender parity in recruitment, demanding and enabling balanced shortlists and bias-free processes. Beyond Business, Gavin has given a personal commitment not to appear on external all male panels. He promotes STEM subjects for girls in schools and has published several articles on LinkedIn and external blog pages outlining his views on targets and tokenism. He is determined to create an attraction and retention culture so women can thrive. He coaches a phenomenal disabled woman, Kate Nash OBE, to grow her business @PurpleSpace which is creating employee networks; promotes International Women’s Day using #SheInspiresMe asking LBT+ women to share inspirational quotes and regularly speak out on women’s equality. Amongst his many efforts to support D&I, Gavin also supported a trans woman manager, featuring as a Values Champion in a video about inclusivity, where she highlighted the importance of colleague-support through her transition.

Richard Gnodde

Richard sponsors the EMEA Inclusion & Diversity Committee (IDC) at Goldman Sachs, which is responsible for maximising the potential of GS’ talent, is accountable for diversity in hiring and progression and has a mandate to drive positive cultural change. Richard has led the firm’s efforts to shift the needle on its culture, including creating an annual IDC Townhall, with quarterly updates on progress, achievements and opportunities in the D&I space; monthly ‘Chats with IDC’ hosted by IDC members; an internal panel series acknowledging both progress made and remaining targets; and a ‘partner cascade’ series, encouraging self-reflection on acts which can enhance or erode inclusion. Richard has also sponsored the Affinity Network Fair, hosted breakfast for nearly 50 GS women partners, clients and graduates of GS’ 10,000 Small Businesses UK, endorsed the firm’s support of the Diversity Project and championed ‘Launch with GS’, a £500m investment in women-led businesses. Beyond GS, Richard hosts the annual ‘When Women Lead’ event at London’s Serpentine Pavilion, gathering over 600 women to celebrate the achievements of women from a host of industries. He supports the Cambridge Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre and was instrumental in GS becoming headline sponsors of their 2019 conference. He was also involved in the firm’s sponsorship of the Women of the Square Mile Conference.

David Harkness

David has made it his mission to change the culture at Clifford Chance. He chairs a group aiming to address the firm’s diversity issues relating to gender.  The group persuaded the firm’s management to publish all pay gap data, including partners, plus data on ethnicity, sexuality and disability pay gaps as well as gender. David has championed a series of initiatives to promote diversity, including a successful pilot of reverse mentoring; designated partners at every meeting where pay or promotion is discussed, charged with ensuring gender diversity is respected; a network of ‘inclusion advocates’ trained to help and support those facing harassment issues; equalising the firm’s shared parental leave package; and refreshing and relaunching the firm’s women’s group as a global gender parity network.  David has spoken at a series of partner events to make sure that every one of Clifford Chance’s 150+ London partners is aware of the importance of D&I and of the great damage that sexist behaviour and harassment can present. Externally, David supports and encourages academic research in D&I, particularly Jill Armstrong of Murray Edwards College Cambridge. He has attended many events promoted by Women’s groups to try and deliberately be the only man in a room full of women, in order to understand the minority experience and promote male advocacy. David also supports Tender, a charity dedicated to reducing domestic violence.

Oliver (Olly) Benzecry

Under Olly’s leadership, Accenture has embedded diversity across all HR processes; recruitment, development and performance. He is a coach and mentor to several senior women and in recent years has overseen many initiatives to support women’s development in the workplace. These include refocusing Accenture’s Women’s network to an inclusive Gender network, resulting in greater engagement from men in Accenture-run programmes, and normalising their market-leading Shared Parental Leave (SPL) provision in 2015, which has seen 350+ applicants since its inception. He also championed the creation of Accenture’s 50:50 gender-equal culture. Olly is highly committed to the success and promotion of Accenture’s Corporate Social Responsibility programmes, which have seen over 100K users of the firm’s Skills to Succeed Academy and taken more than 840 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through their Movement to Work Programme since 2014. All employees are encouraged to contribute to their local communities, with 3,250 UKI employees using 42,000 volunteering hours in the last financial year. Under Olly’s leadership, Accenture has put a huge focus on the talent agenda; sponsoring 14 University Women’s Societies, 46 school events and mentoring over 80 SME women CEOs through their business mentoring programmes.

Gabriel Martino

Gabriel has a very strong commitment to HSBC’s global diverse workspace strategy, as the main sponsor of Argentina’s 4 HSBC ERGs. In 2018, he signed up to the UN Women and UN Global Compact WEPs (Women’s Empowerment Principles) agreement on behalf of HSBC Argentina, and since then has been involved in different aspects that make gender balance and equality a priority on the company’s agenda. In 2019, Gabriel led HSBC Argentina’s ‘No means No’ campaign to raise awareness about gender violence and harassment, as well as to make women aware of their own rights. It was the first time that a brand used a characteristic feature of the business – the ATM – to deliver diversity messages in Argentina. Under Gabriel’s leadership, more than half of HSBC Argentina associates are women, with women’s representation in senior roles increasing to 30% from 22% over the last four years. Externally, Gabriel was one of the 12 CEOs to undertake and sign the Leading Men for Change initiative of Upward – Uniting Professional Women Accelerating Relationships & Development. He is one of the five Argentine leaders invited to participate in the INADI (National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism) debates, to share experiences, challenges and achievements in diversity management in the workspace. Gabriel was also Vice President of IDEA (Institute of Entrepreneurship Development of Argentina), which gathers CEOs and owners of many enterprises in Argentina in an annual Colloquium where Gender balance was included in the agenda for the first time.

Andrew Pearce

Globally Andrew is one of Accenture’s cross-cultural leads, tasked with educating and setting best practice examples for working across cultures and ethnicities. With most Accenture Operations employees based in India, within his remit as Operations MD it is Andrew’s duty to look at ways in which the company creates an inclusive environment that champions women in the workplace. Andrew is the Executive Sponsor for Accenture’s African-Caribbean Network, and works with global leadership to open and grow opportunities for future women MDs. Andrew is a member of the Executive Leadership Council and has been actively engaged in a number of the events and initiatives that the UK chapter are running. He often speaks on diversity, and encourages senior managers to support coaching and volunteering efforts with local communities. He is committed to offering a platform for female leaders to thrive within a business environment and currently mentors three professional women outside Accenture, providing career guidance and helping them to maximise their potential within the challenges of their diverse organisations. Andrew is also a Non-Executive Director at Kingston University, looking in particular at how to include gender diversity in the academic staff, and a mentor at Harringay Secondary School, supporting young women as they start their journey into future careers.

Karl Edge

Karl has championed creating an environment where everyone flourishes and has particularly focused on female talent in his two and a half years as Midlands Regional Chair. He created and delivered the firm’s ‘What shadow do we cast?’ programme to inspire all partner and director groups to consider their role as leaders and try new ways of working to create an inclusive environment. He sponsors KPMG’s Network of Women, hosting sessions to discuss challenges to I&D, and mentors potential women partners. Karl also created a female partner/director community specifically working together to help each other and to inform him on how to remove barriers to their progression. He has driven the roll out of his team’s Beliefs, Biases and Behaviours Training programme and launched a ‘Shadow Board’, 50% of whom are female, to be a sounding board and challenger group for the Midlands Leadership Team. Externally, Karl has sponsored the creation of a Women in Business external network comprising of female leaders and top talent from some of the largest and fastest growing businesses in the region. The Hampton Alexander Review, sponsored by KPMG, is a key platform around female progression for the firm, and Karl has assisted in promoting and hosting events in the Midlands to share learning with clients and others.

Paul Van der Burgh

Under Paul’s leadership, Toyota GB have launched flexible working guidelines for all staff, adjusted language used in job profiles to avoid deterring women and have sent targeted communications to female placement students to explain opportunities in the industry. Toyota GB actively participates in the 30% Automotive Club, offering an external mentoring scheme for thirty female colleagues, and their ‘Women in Business’ networking sessions enable women to learn from each other and understand the career journeys of senior female leaders. Recently, Paul’s team launched a ‘Women on the Verge of Brilliance’ programme, helping women to take control of their professional development, with discussion and tools around managing perception with critical audiences, building a personal reputation management campaign, emotional resilience and mental toughness. The Company Diversity and Inclusion Strategy is fully endorsed by the TGB Board, and Paul now hopes to influence Toyota’s European Head Office to follow their lead. Externally, Paul is a member of the 30% Club and founder member of the Automotive 30% Club, whose conferences he sponsors and regularly participates in as a panel member and speaker. This year, Toyota sponsored Autocar’s “Great British Women, Top 100 list, rising stars” awards and through their involvement with the Automotive 30% Club, TGB are also sponsoring “Inspiring” – a new digital magazine aimed at creating a super network of women in the automotive industry that can share best practices, tips, advice and generally learn from each other.

Mark Burgess

Mark is responsible for the execution of Columbia Threadneedle’s ‘Gender Action Plan’, aiming  to drive improvement in gender balance across the business through a combination of advocacy, training and development, new recruitment policies and flexible working guidelines and support. This has resulted in 45% of the company board, 42% of the regional Executive Committee and 20% of senior management being women. Mark’s team has also launched an inclusive women’s network, ‘Aloud’. One of the main initiatives that Mark has spearheaded with the network is the formation of mentoring circles which allow junior/mid-level women to reverse-mentor senior leaders within the organisation whilst also being mentored themselves. Mark is proud that Columbia Threadneedle Investments EMEA became the first European asset manager to disclose gender data in 2015 and acted as a founding signatory of HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter. Externally, Mark is a trustee of Access Sport, a charity which aims to harness the proven power of sport to tackle social exclusion, inactivity and obesity, and is Chairman of LIFEbeat, which aims to improve the emotional wellbeing of young people.