Dare To Lead: Highlights From LIVE Judging Day, Sponsored By Grant Thornton UK

“Gender Diversity isn’t just the right thing from a social standpoint; it’s the best thing for business. There is a significant research base demonstrating a strong correlation between diversity at a leadership level and business results” – Rachel Engwell, Partner Grant Thornton. 

Friday 1st November saw a panel of professionally respected judges, our CEO Griselda Togobo, and the trailblazers, change-makers and inclusive leaders who won the regional finals that were held across the UK throughout September and October come together.

The day was about giving the finalists the opportunity to share more of their story with the judges, who then had the difficult task of choosing the FL 2019 National Award Winners who will be announced at our grand final in Leeds on 29th November.

The day was all hosted by our sponsors Grant Thornton UK, who by 2023, want to be the best firm at valuing diversity through inclusion. This is an ambitious challenge, but they are taking significant steps to achieve it.  Peter Bodin, who is the Global CEO of Grant Thornton International recognises that “the responsibility to build an inclusive culture is in the hands of us as leaders”

Grant Thornton provided the backdrop of their extraordinary offices in central Sheffield for our judging day and it really is a workspace of dreams. Their team worked hard to ensure that it was an enjoyable experience for all of our guests.

We asked Rachel Engwell, Head of Tax Yorkshire and the North East at Grant Thornton why they were sponsoring the FL National Awards 2019:

“In this year’s Grant Thornton Women in Business report, we outlined practical steps that business could take to create a more inclusive workplace, which is what Forward Ladies are championing.

Essentially the goals of what we are both trying to achieve are very aligned – we both want to see gender diversity improve in senior leadership.

It’s great that programmes like Forward Ladies are taking the time to recognise the fantastic achievements of women in business across the UK. Through this initiative, more and more women will be empowered to become leaders and innovators in their fields.”

The day was all about getting to know our finalists from across the UK and hearing more of their journey. it was also an opportunity for our finalists to network and make new connections.

An inspiring panel discussion took place in the afternoon, made up of a number of our judges, including Matt Turner, the Founder of tastecard who are one of our sponsors.

We spoke to some of the judges and finalists to find out more from them about the role and responsibility that they have as leaders to build an inclusive culture in their workplaces and business

Juliet Kennedy, the London and the South Regional winner in the STEM leader category and Operations Director for NATS Air Traffic Control said that she entered the awards because “women are under-represented in my company” and that “this would be a great platform to make Air Traffic Control a more visible career option for women.”

Jane Crombleholme, our North West, Wales and Ireland winner of the Public Sector, Academia and Nor for Profit category and Managing Director of the Alliance Manchester Business School said that in her role, she feels “a compulsion to be a visible woman” – Jane is on a mission to make the assets of the business school available and accessible to women.

The energy of our finalists and judges was infectious. Listening to some of their stories behind the scenes they shared insights into their success and were open about their vulnerabilities as Trail Blazers, Change Makers and Inclusive Leaders. One common thread throughout the stories was that of an ‘accidental’ career and ‘accidental’ success.

As women, we often tend to view our success as something that happened by accident. But nothing happens by accident. Daring to lead, saying ‘yes’ to opportunities, stepping over and around fear, working hard and showing up are the things that create success.

You create everything. It’s no accident. You are your biggest success.

And your story? Own it in all its glory.

See you at the Grand Final on 29th November