We launched across five cities – London, Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh - with notable Brits providing the warm-up act to my launch speech. We had large audiences and great support from PwC, Standard Bank, Thomson Reuters and Berwin Leighton Paisner.
Much was anticipated and even more has been delivered. As I said in my 2012 WOB UK launch speech, Fiona Hathorn, Rachel Tranter and Rowena Ironside with the support and backing of WOB Australia, have the capacity, skill and vision to build Women on Boards into an organisation that:
- Supports any woman of any ethnic background, of any age, at any career stage across the UK who chooses to contribute through non-executive director, trustee and committee roles in the listed, public, not-for-profit and charity sectors.
- Works with companies to reshape the recruitment and employment practices that are too often responsible for the gender imbalance we see on boards and at leadership level.
- Challenges prevailing attitudes and behaviours towards gender diversity in business and beyond.
All this has been achieved and more. It was a wonderful moment in the history of WOB. I had met Fiona Hathorn purely by chance one year early, while in London giving a speech at a European Professional Women’s Network event as part of my Churchill Fellowship. From there the idea of WOB took off and, with huge hard work and persistence, has supported and inspired thousands of women in the UK into boards and leadership roles.
There have been many who have helped to grow WOB in the UK. A special mention to Ancia Cronje and Lisa Jones who were there from the outset, also Alison Thorne, Grant Robertson, Margaret Bryne, Madeleine Milne and the many former and current members of the wider WOB team.
Thank you from the bottom of our colonial hearts for taking our vision and running with it, for achieving such success and making such a difference, for being the change we all want to see in the world.
Launch Events in 2012
London, Mon 24 September at the offices of Berwin Leighton Paisner in Adelaide House with Sir David Normington GCB, the Commissioner for Public Appointments. A man described as ‘the smiling assassin' during his tenure as permanent secretary at the Department of Education and Skills, but who could not have been more charming or appropriate at the launch.
Bristol: Wed 26 September, at MShed, Princes Wharf with Suzanne Baxter, MITIE Group Finance Director, a passionate diversity and inclusion advocate who served as a Commissioner for Equality and Human Rights for Great Britain and went onto a significant Non-Executive career.
Manchester: Thurs 27 September at the Hilton with Len Wardle, long-standing Chair of the Cooperative Group who later became embroiled in the Paul Flowers scandal and someone who totally understood diversity and inclusion.
Birmingham: Wed 3 October at the offices of PwC at Cornwall Court with Mark Smith, who had a 21 year career with PwC, which has been a constant and loyal corporate support of WOB UK ever since.
Edinburgh: Tue 4 October at The Signet Library with Ben Thomson, then Chair of the National Galleries of Scotland. Ben impressed me firstly with having four forbears who won the Nobel Prize for Physics (JJ Thomson & GP Thomson, William & Lawrence Bragg), but secondly for being the great-great grandson of Sir Charles Todd (famous for pioneering the Overland Telegraph line from Adelaide to Darwin ) & Lady Alice Todd (after whom Alice Springs is named).