Vittorio Colao

Vodafone Group plc

Throughout his career, Vittorio has dedicated significant time, energy and resources to gender equality. He has externally declared his intention for Vodafone to become the best employer of women in the world by 2025. Vittorio has personally supported a number of initiatives within Vodafone, including increasing the number women in Director roles from 14% to 26% in 2017. He pioneered a global maternity policy across 26 countries to support women returning to work. This provoked a global conversation and several other multinationals to follow with new policies. Vittorio also launched the world’s largest recruitment programme to bring women who have taken career breaks back to work. Vodafone will seek to technologically and financially enable 50 million women in emerging markets and have also made a commitment to champion the education of refugee girls through an innovative Instant Network Schools program. He is also a champion of the HeForShe campaign, and has ensured that 100% of Vodafone senior leaders undergo unconscious bias training.

Andrew Bester

Group Director & CEO, Commercial Banking
Lloyds Banking Group

Andrew Bester is Lloyds Banking Group’s Executive Sponsor for Inclusion & Diversity, the Group Executive Sponsor for Gender and is heavily involved with supporting the Group’s women’s network, Breakthrough. Andrew chairs the I&D Operational Committee, which tracks monthly progress against the Group’s Helping Britain Prosper Plan. He is passionate about creating an inclusive environment for all colleagues, regularly fronting campaigns across the organisation to ensure colleagues and leaders see inclusion and diversity as business imperative. Andrew sponsored an organisation-wide requirement that all shortlists for senior-level hires should evidence gender diversity. He also personally mentors women both within Lloyds and externally. Andrew has conducted focus groups with women and men at different grades to understand their issues and challenges, and has spoken publically both internally and externally about the role men have to play in advancing gender equality. Andrew champions the Women of the Future Ambassadors Programme, and gave the keynote speech at the annual reception event in April. He has taken part in a number of media interviews and global panels on gender diversity, and was recently named in the 2017 Management Today ‘Agents of Change’ list.

Paul Polman


Today, 46% of Unilever managers are female – up from just 38% when Paul joined the company in 2009. This has been achieved in a holistic and strategic way by addressing the recruitment, development and progression of women across the organisation. Under Paul’s leadership, Unilever has worked hard to create the right conditions to drive gender balance – such as agile working policies, improved maternity and paternity programmes, increased focus on addressing unconscious bias, and mentoring programmes. Paul established and chairs the Global Diversity Board, which gives visible leadership and drives action. Over the last year the company launched the ‘Unstereotype initiative’ to help change how people – especially women - are portrayed in advertising, which is now being extended across the value chain. Unilever works to ensure that 50% of sustainable farming providers are women and is working with partners to provide training to increase income and improve livelihoods – for example digital financial inclusion for small scale retailers. Paul is a UN Women HeForShe Champion working to secure the commitment of a billion men to support gender equality around the world, and a UN Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals – with Goal 5 aiming to achieve gender equality everywhere by 2030.

Sir Roger Carr

BAE Systems

Sir Roger Carr is Chairman of BAE Systems plc, where he has set gender diversity as an integral part of Board policy.  In addition, he promotes gender diversity through various speaking engagements and mentoring schemes which are intended to encourage and support women in the pursuit of senior executive and non-executive roles.  He is a founder member of 30% Club and was major advocate for diversity whilst President of the CBI. Throughout his career he has served on a number of external committees including the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group, the Manufacturing Council of the CBI, The Higgs Committee on Corporate Governance and Business for New Europe.  He is a fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacturers & Commerce, a Companion of the Institute of Management, and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators. He was knighted for Services to Business in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list 2011.

Sir Win Bischoff


The FRC has achieved 30% female board members and 50% Executive Committee targets. In his capacity as Chairman, he recently spoke at the House of Lords on the importance of an inclusive culture. He was one of the two founding chairmen supporters of the 30% Club and recruited other Chairmen to join the 30% Club.  He is a regular mentor to female executives in other organisations.  He supported the step Lloyds Bank took to set a 40% female target in their senior management layer by 2020, which was then at 23%. Sir Win was knighted in the 2000 honours list.

Dominic Christian


Dominic is the overall executive sponsor of Aon Business Resource Groups, including the Women’s International Network, and the lead of the Diversity Council. He encourages managers to recognise the necessity of diverse management approaches, and promote a culture of inclusiveness. As part of the Sponsorship Programme which champions the careers of high potential female talent, he mentors three senior females on a regular basis. In November 2016 Aon hosted a HeForShe event with high profile speakers, and at that event Dominic made his personal HeForShe Pledge to speak at a school/university/college once a month on gender equality. He has hosted a dinner at Aon for the Insurance Supper Club, a body of senior females in the insurance industry, and also hosted an event for Philanthropy Impact to encourage investment in women’s charities and causes. Outside Aon, he is the chairman of Inclusion@Lloyds, and was instrumental in the launch of the DiveIn Festival – an annual celebration of diversity which, in 2016, saw 66 events take place in 10 countries. Last year he was President of the Institute of London and spoke at Mansion House to 400 high profile city figures on the importance of gender inclusion in the City of London.

Andrew Lawson


Throughout his career at Salesforce, Andy has been an active ally for driving equality. He is also a firm believer that everyone in the industry has a responsibility to encourage young people to pursue the range of exciting career opportunities the tech industry has to offer. Andy championed the first “Women in Leadership Summit” at Salesforce’s World Tour London event in 2014, an initiative which has since been rolled out across Salesforce events in other countries. He is a mentor to women both inside and outside his own team, and continually works to raise awareness of women’s issues in the workplace. For instance, all Salesforce’s European offices now have employee resource groups for gender equality and celebrate International Women’s Day. Andy is also an active supporter of #HeForShe, regularly writing and tweeting about why it’s important for men to speak up for what's right when it comes to workplace equality. He has also ensured Salesforce supports women in business and tech education initiatives that encourage more girls to pursue a career in tech. Andy was also named one of “30 Male Agents of Change” in Management Today’s 2017 list.

Robert Swannell

Marks & Spencer

Robert has been a key supporter and champion of the formation and development of M&S Women’s Network, to ensure M&S continue to develop and inspire their female workforce. Externally, he is a formal mentor to two senior women, and informal mentor to many others at varying levels of seniority. He is a founder member of Chairman’s Advisory Group of  30% Club and recruited many Chairmen to the cause. He regularly speaks on the importance of women in business, whether through the 30% Club or on other panels. During his tenure as Chairman, M&S appointments have been more than 50% female. As Chair of UK Government Investments Robert promoted and supported an innovative scheme to bring women onto Boards of HMG owned bodies through shadow roles. He is also an investor in and supporter of an all-female venture capital body, which invests solely in women-led businesses.

David Hynam

Bupa UK

As CEO, over half of David’s direct reports in the UK Executive Team are women and he has proactively focused on addressing gender balance and pay among these senior leaders. In his previous role, all four of the key regional operational roles were (and remain) occupied by women, and the level below is almost two thirds female. He has been instrumental in developing a strong future pipeline both in current and former roles, with 75% of “key performers” on the UK talent plan being female. David is a regular mentor, and the most senior Bupa trustee of the independent grant-giving Foundation, giving him the platform to drive and support gender diversity in the group’s membership. He has also successfully launched Bupa’s new Code of Conduct in all the UK businesses, which strongly outlines policies for gender diversity, for present and future stakeholders. Under David’s leadership, Bupa UK is also involved with BITC gender campaigns and DiverCity.

Rakesh Kapoor


Rakesh successfully sponsored the launch of Project DARE (Developing, Attracting, Retaining and Engaging talented women @ RB) to implement a more systematic approach to ensure the number of women at middle management and senior levels more closely mirrored the population of women across the business. He has introduced extended parental leave and working from home policies to allow for flexible lifestyles, and a ‘stay in touch’ programme, whereby employees who go on maternity leave can stay in touch with the company. For parents to be, he promoted webinars before and after maternity leave, to help with balancing a family and a job.  In addition, he has sponsored a mentoring program, to allow talented women in the organisation to have a mentor to support and sponsor them. He also promoted fair gender representation for external hires, so that there is mandated diversity in candidate lists. As a father of a girl, Rakesh is very committed to tackling unconscious bias and championing women in and outside of the workplace, and has set a company target to double the number of talented women at RB by 2020.

Richard Robinson

Managing Partner

Richard was named a ‘Male Agent of Change’ by the Women’s Business Council & Management Today and a 'Campaigner for increased diversity in the industry' by The Huffington Post. He mentors a dozen people at any one time, with a simple philosophy: Never mentor someone who looks or sounds like him. This principle has since been adopted by Centaur Media’s mentoring programme. He regularly writes and speaks about empowered inclusivity and was the only man asked to contribute to Engine Group’s industry-leading white paper “21st Century Woman” released on International Women’s Day 2017. He was a key panellist at Advertising Week Europe 2017 on Diversity as well as at the Marketing Agencies Association #doDifferent Conference 2017. Richard is active as a Board member of Creative Equals and the first male SuperMomma for SheSays. A regular speaker and columnist on the topic of gender diversity, he is also an external mentor to 25 students from Evelyn Grace Academy, Brixton.

Chris Stylianou

Chief Operating Officer UK & Ire

Chris Stylianou is the Executive sponsor of Sky’s Women in Leadership (WiL) programme. He leads on the vision to enable female talent within Sky, and reach our target of a 50:50 gender balance. To do this, Chris worked with the core WiL team to create a wide variety of initiatives to encourage gender parity and female advancement. Chris also actively champions gender diversity at Sky by speaking internally and regularly holding executives accountable to their departmental targets with regular reviews. He also sponsors a number of women, and has 12 women in high profile leadership roles. Externally, Chris is a ‘Male Agent of Change’ and sits on the Women’s Business Council, as well as taking on a number of speaking engagements focusing on how big business can drive change internally and in their communities. Chris was a finalist in the Business in The Community Gender Champion Award, and has also just led and advised on the vision and objectives for the newly formed Women@Sky network.

Michael Cole-Fontayn

EVP, Chairman EMEA
BNY Mellon

Under Michael’s leadership, BNY Mellon was named to The Times “Top 50 Employers for Women” list. He oversees BNY Mellon’s EMEA Diversity and Inclusion Council, playing a key role in shaping the regional strategy and supporting groups to ensure diversity and inclusion priorities are relevant and culturally appropriate to each office. His impact is felt across EMEA, notably through holding senior leaders accountable to the company’s commitment to diversity and his active engagement with BNY Mellon’s six Employee Resource Groups. Through his support, BNY Mellon proactively signed the HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter in July 2016 to make the company’s workforce commitments. Michael is actively involved in opening the conversation around women’s workforce equality, mental health, and LGBT+ rights in the workplace. He has spoken at external events such as the Women’s Forum of British American Business, the Cambridge Rising Women Leaders Programme and The Economists’ Pride and Prejudice Conference. At the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos in January 2017, Michael launched BNY Mellon and the UN Foundation’s ‘Return on Equality: Investment Opportunities to Help Close the Global Gender Gap’ report.

Joshua Graff

UK Country Manager & Vice President Marketing Solutions

Josh took action and held all his managers accountable for ensuring that women were hired, promoted and developed into management.  He set an aspirational goal of 50/50 gender parity at every level of seniority within LinkedIn's EMEA Marketing Solutions organisation, which was successfully hit this year through a variety of diversity and inclusion efforts. He did this through a programme involving sponsorship, mentoring, breaking bias training sessions, and insisting on diverse hiring slates & interview panels. He is also a sponsor for several future female leaders, and Executive Sponsor and host of a diversity evening at LinkedIn which brought together senior clients and D&I leaders with an appetite for driving change. Josh is a mentor to female leaders in the US, UK, and across EMEA & APAC. He frequently talks to the media about the importance of diversity in the workplace and the opportunities to drive more senior female leaders.  

Olly Benzecry

UKI Chairman and Country Director

Olly has championed a programmatic approach to the recruitment, development, progression and retention of women which has resulted in increased representation at all levels of the organisation. He is a coach and mentor to a number of senior women and has introduced a number of new initiatives in the last two years that have championed women in the workplace, including refocusing the Women’s network to an inclusive gender network. In 2017 Accenture were recognised as one of The Times Top 50 Companies for Women, and a finalist for the BITC Responsible Business Award for Gender Diversity. Under Olly’s leadership Accenture have put a huge focus on the STEM agenda, and led Europe’s largest STEM event in February 2017 for c.2,000 11-14 years old girls. They also sponsor 14 University Women’s Societies and 46 school events, and have mentored over 80 SME women CEOs through business mentoring programmes. Externally, Olly is a member of the CBI President’s Committee, and a trustee for Movement to Work, and sits on the board of directors for the Business Disability Forum and for the Tech Partnership.

Paul Rawlinson

Global Chair
Baker & McKenzie

Paul Rawlinson chairs one of the world’s largest law firms and is unequivocal in his desire to further Baker McKenzie's global focus on diversity. Locally Paul has been actively supporting the London office's high profile HeForShe campaign, with over 70% of male partners becoming HeForShe ambassadors. Playing a prominent role in the launch of LIFT (Leaders investing for Tomorrow)  - a sponsorship programme across Baker McKenzie's 77 offices worldwide partnering women attorneys with senior sponsors, he is ensuring women have access to all the tools and support they need, in order to rise up through the ranks. Recently Paul was the sole private sector representative at the United Nations launch event for “Champions of the Global Equal Pay Coalition”, to talk about the role that professional services firms can play in bridging the gap in equal pay. Closer to home, Paul is an active supporter of the 30% Club in the UK, recently speaking on the panel at their "Shifting the Needle" Leadership Forum. Paul doesn’t see gender equality as a “women’s” issue – it’s a business issue and is very aware that while progress is being made, there is still much to do before we reach a true gender equality.

David Sproul

Senior Partner and Chief Executive, Deloitte North West Europe and Deloitte UK

In his role of Senior Partner and Chief Executive, David has made the establishment of a truly inclusive culture one of his priorities for Deloitte. As part of this focus, David has put gender equality at the forefront of UK firm’s agenda, and set the ambitious target of achieving 25% female partners by 2020. In the last few years Deloitte UK has launched various programmes to support senior women in the workplace, such as their WorkAgility strategy, and the launch of Deloitte’s Return to Work and Working Parents Transition programmes. In 2015, Deloitte was one of the first large firms to publish its gender pay gap voluntarily. David is an active supporter of the Women’s Business Council and was included in its ‘Male Agents of Change’ list. He also received the United Nations 2016 Women’s Empowerment Principles award for his commitment to gender equality.

Peter Harrison

Group Chief Executive

In May 2016, under Peter’s leadership, Schroders introduced an initial target of at least 30% female representation in senior management roles, with senior management compensation linked to achieving this goal. In his first year as Group Chief Executive, Schroders made strong progress. It increased female representation in senior management roles from 25% to 31%, and is well on its way to reaching its target of at least 33% by the end of 2019. Peter is also overseeing initiatives to combat the lack of job applications received from women, including introducing a 50/50 gender split at the entry-level assessment centres for candidates. Just a month after becoming Group Chief Executive, Peter led Schroders’ move to become one of the first signatories to the Women in Finance Charter. He is also one of a group of senior leaders who recently formed the Diversity Project, an initiative that aims to accelerate progress towards an inclusive culture across the investment and savings industry.

Jeff Conway

State Street

As CEO of State Street EMEA since 2015, one of Jeff’s first priorities was to form and chair a regional diversity council to develop a framework to improve gender diversity regionally. He embedded strong advocacy of female talent through balanced promotion and hiring pipelines, and over two years has increased females on his management team from 20% to 35%. The senior team has also seen a 6% increase in female representation under Jeff’s tenure. It is essential to Jeff’s agenda for State Street that all country leaders are held accountable for the progress of gender diversity, and are given specific actions to address challenges unique to their locations. Externally, State Street promotes community engagement, and Jeff is a mentor as part of the 30% Cross Company Mentoring program.

Matt Elliott

People Director
Virgin Money

Virgin Money aim to make 'Everyone Better Off', an ethos based on fairness to all their stakeholders they have been pursuing for 10 years. Matt leads from the front on this agenda in the company. In relation to gender equality, they have committed to achieving balance at all levels of the company, which includes increasing male representation in more junior levels and increasing female representation in senior positions. Their target is to be 50/50 by 2020 at all levels. He focuses on creating a culture which encourages flexible working, enhances capability of managers, and delivers enabling technology. Innovative approaches such as a new policy committed to matching existing flexible working practices of senior applicants to attract female talent, and introducing a “Baby App” enabling colleagues on maternity leave to keep in touch, are just two examples of Matt’s work. He has been integral to developing Virgin Money’s leading approach to reporting and addressing the gender pay gap. Maternity mentoring has also been introduced under Matt’s leadership - he was the first mentor to sign up to the programme. Externally, he speaks at a variety of events and regularly contributes to articles on the importance of gender parity.

Christopher Stirling

Global Chairman, Life Sciences

Chris has more than 20 years’ experience advising clients in the Life Sciences sector across the globe, including overseeing large, complex transactions. Chris is passionate about creating an environment where women thrive, and raising awareness of the benefits of an inclusive business. Chris has been central in driving the firm’s Exceptional Women in Life Sciences initiative, raising the profile of female talent in the firm globally. He is passionate about accelerating career progression for the best talent, and he coaches and mentors men and women at all levels at the firm to ensure that gender parity is reflected in his team and the wider firm. He has also been key in the development of women’s networks and events within KPMG.

Mark Burgess

Deputy Global Chief Investment Officer, Chief Investment Officer, EMEA
Columbia Threadneedle Investments

Mark has overall accountability for improving gender diversity and inclusion in Columbia Threadneedle’s EMEA business. He is responsible for achieving the gender targets set out in their “Gender Action Plan”, which aims 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. He has made great strides in this area, with 33% of the company board, 29% of the regional Executive Committee and 29% of the investment professionals being female. Externally, Mark is a trustee of Access Sport, which aims to harness the proven power of sport to tackle social exclusion, inactivity and obesity in areas where help is most needed. He is also a trustee of LIFEbeat, which aims to improve the emotional wellbeing of young people – giving them the skills and inspiration to overcome challenges and lead confident, healthy and purposeful lives.

Chris Allington

Regional Head, Financial Markets, West (Head FM)
Standard Chartered

Chris is an active sponsor for both the UK and US Women's Networks and provides support, mentorship and direction to the committees. He is also a passionate champion for gender equality and was instrumental in rolling out improved Parental and Maternity Leave Policies across the bank to ensure employees could access the same benefits across the globe. His active engagement has encouraged a number of men to get involved in the Women's Network and pushing the gender equality agenda further. He regularly speaks at both internal and external events on the importance of a strong gender mix to an organisation and is part of the Corporate and Institutional Banking management team, actively pushing to ensure they have higher numbers of women in senior positions in Financial Markets. Externally, Chris also speaks at events and to special interest groups on the importance of gender equality, as well as regularly taking part in mentoring.

Andrew Pearce

Managing Director

Andrew has been a prominent feature in promoting Inclusion and Diversity initiatives throughout United Kingdom and Ireland. Globally he is one of Accenture’s Cross-cultural leads, tasked with educating and setting best practice examples for working across cultures. With most Accenture Operations employees based in India, this is an integral role when dealing with women in the workplace. Accenture is committed to building an inclusive environment for its employees that has mutual respect at its foundation and empowers individuals to seize opportunity. It is Andrew’s duty to look at ways in which they create an environment that champions women in the workplace and continues to grow an inclusive culture. 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.

Colin Passmore

Senior Partner
Simmons & Simmons

Colin has implemented an aspirational target that women will make up 30% of all their Managing Associate and partner promotions each year. He has also amended the Partner Remuneration process to ensure a greater emphasis and accountability for people development. Colin was central to setting up the mentoring scheme, in which all Managing Associates are matched with a partner sponsor who acts as a guide to support and champion them in the workplace. He currently has two mentees, one female and one male, and is focused on providing them with equal opportunities. Externally, the firm is involved with a sector-wide female mentoring scheme, and Colin volunteered to be one of three senior mentors. He is also involved with external diversity committees, and ensures that gender diversity is always on the firm’s agenda.

Julian Pritchard

Partner, Corporate
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

While managing his firm’s US practice, Julian developed a programme with the ambitious goal of making the firm the most attractive law firm for women to work in, and to drive great gender diversity outcomes. The programme was comprised of a variety of factors, including new mentoring and sponsorship programmes for women, unconscious bias training, women’s lunches, workshops and client events, part time and flexible working initiatives and other initiatives designed to drive inclusion. In that period, 70% of recruits into the firm’s US practice were women, and they had a relatively high proportion of women elected into the partnership. Julian is now co-sponsor of the firm’s global gender diversity efforts, and one of two partners assigned to assess and interrogate the firm’s partnership candidate pipeline to ensure better gender diversity outcomes. Externally, Julian regularly participates in diversity events ensuring that he is part of the debate. He has driven a project to obtain statistical information that can inform internal discussions on women in the workplace, and has led offsite presentations focussed on behavioural changes that will lead to more inclusive leadership.

Michael Keegan

Chairman UK & I, Head of Product Business EMEIA

Michael is a vocal champion of gender diversity in the Fujitsu EMEIA leadership team, and to workplace colleagues. He secured funding for gender diversity initiatives enabling Fujitsu to join Everywoman and other networking events, and supported the deployment of unconscious bias training for all Fujitsu UK hiring managers. He has supported senior female colleagues attending important networking events, for example, the Global Female Leadership summit May 2017. He is a mentor to several talented women, both inside and out of Fujitsu, and helped to support the establishment of a Fujitsu gender diversity group in their Germany business, encouraging others by speaking at the launch event. Michael is an ambassador for Everywoman and a frequent speaker at industry events and contributor to media articles on the of gender diversity. He regularly uses his social media reach to promote gender diversity campaigns in the workplace.

Stefano Toffolo

Managing Director, Global Head of F2B and Compliance QA
Credit Suisse

Stefano actively encourages diversity and flexibility, as demonstrated by establishing a Women’s Network to support the development, advancement and engagement of a gender-balanced workforce. Stefano has initiated many initiatives and policy changes to increase gender diversity within his own significant area of influence. Since 2014, six female professionals joined Stefano’s team to re-enter the workforce through the bank’s “Real-Returns Program” and he offers his professional experience as a mentor to many employees. Stefano participates in a variety of events, both internally and externally, aimed at promoting gender diversity and encouraging the advancement of women. He also holds attended an advice seminar for Liverpool University, at their London campus, and offers advice to female students on developing their career paths.

Simon Linares

Group HR Director
Direct Line Group

Simon is committed to the progression of talented women at all levels through an inclusive culture. He has developed Direct Line Group’s people strategy to support the company's mission to make insurance easier and better value for customers. Diversity and inclusion is at the heart of making their strategy sustainable for the future, and they have raised the profile of this debate at Board and Executive level over the last 2 years, while also accelerating a range of tactical activity to drive immediate benefit. They are signatories of the Women in Finance Charter and members of the EveryWoman Network.  Direct Line Group focus on everyone being able to 'bring all of yourself to work' as a key value.  Simon is also a voluntary advisor of the Leadership Pipeline, which promotes women progressing in business.

Richard Beaven

Distribution Director
Swinton Insurance

Richard has been a driving force behind equality and diversity in the workplace. As part of a restructure he displaced all three layers of mostly male senior leaders in the business, the outcome of which was an almost 50% mix of male and women in the leadership team. The basis for selection wears entirely meritocratic but they use a very robust process to select around both skills and competencies, in particular behaviours. He is a regular speaker on panels, and internally, about the importance of gender diversity. Most recently he was on a panel with Liz Bingham OBE with the British American Business Women's Network, where he spoke to an audience of around 200 senior women about diversity in the workplace, and how both companies and individuals have a responsibility.