Guest speaker at the Women as Leaders Brunch, Lady Barbara Judge, told the group that women had worked for decades for opportunities which are now within reach.
Lady Judge, who is the first female chairman of the IoD, told the gathering in Birmingham city centre: “This is a magic moment for women right now. It’s a moment in which employers are looking for women. It gives a company a good balance to have women on the board and in senior positions because they bring a different voice and a lot of companies are now saying they need that balance.”
But she warned: “Women have the advantage at the moment and we have to make the most of it because it won’t last, the pendulum will swing back.”
A former commissioner with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, executive director of New International and chair of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, Lady Judge shared stories and lessons learned from her career with the audience at Barclays Bank’s Latitude Club at Snow Hill.
Also sharing tips from her own experience in the workplace was Rebecca McNeil, chief operating officer with Barclays Business Banking. She also spoke about the need for women to take pro-active steps to progress in business.
“You have to be your own self-publicist,” she said. “And take every single opportunity that you get. Definitely take advantage of things that at first look like they could be bad news. Don’t just sit back and wait for things to happen.”
Attended by around 40 people, the Women as Leaders Brunch was hailed a huge success by Brian Hall, managing director of BHSF Employee Benefits, who closed the event on behalf of the IoD.
He said: “Lady Judge speaks from her own very extensive experience and it has been brilliant to hear her stories and advice.
“The technical skills agenda set out by Lady Barbara Judge and Andy Street has provided businesses in the West Midlands with a new perspective. Investment is flowing into the region, and this has led to expectations being lifted – and it falls to the business community to upskill its workforce with a clear emphasis on the digital agenda. In achieving its aims, the business community becomes the agent for change in improving the living standards of the region’s diverse workforce.
“Lady Barbara and Andy Street are committed to the driving of opportunity, and a true inspiration to the business community.”