Navigating workplace politics, how to overcome disruptive voices and developing leadership skills were the key discussion points at a unique women in business networking evening hosted by First Trust Bank* in Belfast.
Over 60 local business leaders gathered to hear from retired Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Deputy Chief Constable, Judith Gillespie CBE. With more than 30 years’ experience in the policing service, Judith gave a frank recollection of the challenges she faced as a highly visible female leader. She also shared advice on how to improve diversity in the workplace - from increasing the visibility of female roles models and building personal resilience to designing inclusion strategies with measurable targets.
Speaking at the event Judith Gillespie CBE said;
“Looking back on my time in the policing service, it’s clear that one of the best ways to improve diversity in the workplace is to tackle all issues of inequality. A rising tide lifts all boats as they say – and the statistics show that as the PSNI tackled religious underrepresentation, it also improved the representation from other groups in our community – including women.”
“Part and parcel of this is ensuring you have the ambition and processes in place to foster an inclusive work environment. While societal attitudes towards women in work and positions of power have certainly changed since I joined the force in the 1980s, we face a plethora of new challenges including for example, social media and personal attacks. To my mind, resilience is an important trait both for individuals and businesses to embrace in order to have a workforce inclusive of everyone, not just ‘them’ and ‘us’.
Amanda Mooney, Retail Manager at First Trust Bank added;
“Common sense as well as a wealth of academic research tells us that companies and economies are at their most competitive and successful if they empower and harness the talent of all individuals, irrespective of gender. It’s particularly important to us to build a more balanced, representative and fair financial services industry which, as Judith emphasised is key to gaining trust in any sector. To that end, we are also supporters of the Women in Finance Charter, a HM Treasury initiative designed to achieve this balance.
“While First Trust Bank benefits from strong female representation on the senior team and at managerial level, diversity and inclusion initiatives and targets remain a key pillar in our business growth strategy locally and across AIB UK. We were delighted to bring together a host of talented women to network, share advice and expertise, and ultimately, discuss how collectively we can ensure diversity and inclusion in the workplace remains a priority issue in the boardroom.”
As well as enjoying an evening of networking, guests also raised support for Marie Curie - a charity which provides care and services to people living with terminal illness and their families.