Growing up on 1980s Wall Street


South Kensington Club, London. October 18th, 2017

After a healthy, or rather hearty, dinner of pizza and wine we sat down with Lawton Fitt to hear about how she managed through a career arguably the most competitive company in the world, during a period when you could count the number of female leaders on one hand. Lawton gave us the kind of advice you want to print off and read whenever you feel your career, or life, has jilted off track. For as Lawton said, ‘you are living a life, not just having a career’ so don’t beat yourself up about the ups and downs on that journey. A career is a marathon, not a sprint, after all.

About Lawton

Lawton Fitt cut her teeth at Goldman Sachs on Wall Street during the swashbuckling era of the eighties. It was seven years into the job before she encountered another woman in a meeting, and she was regularly asked for directions to the bathrooms or told to send a fax. Lawton ran the bank’s tech IPO business during the first internet boom in the nineties and became the first female partner of the equity division in 1994. She retired from Goldman Sachs in 2002 and took on a very different challenge: running the Royal Academy of Arts in London. An American who splits her time between New York and London, now Lawton’s portfolio of corporate and non-profit positions include a board role at the Carlyle Group private equity firm.

  • Take responsibility for your own career
    • Don’t rely on your organization to manage your career for you.
    • Make lists at what you’re good at, and what you’re not. Be honest with yourself and play to your strengths.
    • Define what success is for you, without being influenced by what others see as success. Don’t let your decisions be driven by what will look good on your CV.
    • Take feedback regularly. Ask for it, listen to it dispassionately, and value it.
    • Find and invest in your mentors. These relationships are your responsibility to make productive.
  • Believe in your value
    • Try not to fall victim to imposter syndrome.
    • Most women believe they must command 100% of a job to do it well. Men believe they must command 70%, and can wing it for the remainder. If your standard is perfection, then you’ll always feel like you’re coming up short.
    • Remind yourself that you are where you are because you are good at what you do, not because your boss likes you. You were hired, you were not adopted!
    • Communicate your value to your boss. This is not just about getting ahead, but this is part of your actual job. It means your boss knows what is happening, and can feel good about what your team is doing.
  • Learn to love risk
    • Be open-minded and keep looking up. It’s too easy to be looking down, concentrating on perfection, and missing the opportunities that arise around you.
    • Keep talking to people – colleagues, people senior to you, people junior to you, friends, BroadMinded members….
    • Do your due diligence before taking a risk. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen to me? If you can live with that thing, then you’re ok.
    • Accept the possibility you could fail. As with every failure, you’ll grow resilience.
  • Learn to lead
    • The transition from a doer to a leader is not smooth
    • Watch leaders that are really effective. Think about what makes them so persuasive, and try and adapt it to your character.
    • Don’t assume you’re either born a leader or not.
  • Invest passion in your work
    • Be someone that creates energy at work, not someone that depletes it. Be a champion of your organization.
    • To be passionate is to be focused. Make lists of other things you want to do and put it aside; allow yourself to focus on what you need to do now.
    • If you don’t feel passionate about what you do, really think about making a change. It’s a great shame not to feel passion, at least most of the time.
  • Don’t forget life is happening while you’re working
    • Sometimes you’ll make life decisions that might hold back your career – for your husband or for your kids. Sometimes that is ok. (Lawton moved to London for her then boyfriend’s job, something that held back her career for some years. Her boyfriend is now her husband of 32 years, so she’s confident it was the right move!)
    • To have a broader perspective on life and interests outside of work will most likely help you in your career. And make you happier.
    • The speed and the way you’re running your race in life may change – that’s ok. Give yourself that freedom.

Brave New World of Technology

Harriet green broadminded

IBM HQ, London. November 30th, 2015
Whatever industry you work in, technology, big data and artificial intelligence will play an increasingly pivotal role, but women continue to lag men in the skills necessary to manage this changing landscape. While many of us may not aspire to be a coder or data analyst, having a grasp of how to take advantage of new technology and manipulate data may differentiate you from the crowd.
Harriet Green, global head of Watson Internet of Things, education and commerce, former Thomas Cook CEO and 2013 winner of Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the year, joined us to talk about her own personal career, the implications of technological progress for women’s careers, and the importance of relearning to adapt to this new world. We were thrilled to have Harriet joining us for the evening, and were very inspired by the evening.
For those of you not there, we had a few very important takeaways

1. Women should be acquiring skills the world needs. e.g. digital skills. There are only 16% women in the tech industry.
2. Chose carefully the person you will work for, rather than the organization. Look for the person who will nurture your development.
3. Know yourself: know what makes you tick.
4. Seek out experiences that are outside your native language and comfort zone.
5. Take a bit more risk.
6. Don’t take yourself too seriously, on the upturn or on the downturn.
7. Great leadership is the will to lead and the will to learn. Be good at the here and now as well as the bigger picture.
8. Don’t be obsessed with what people think. Worry less about being loved and more about being respected.

[And lastly…it’s all about “asset management…”]

Fighting Unconscious Bias from Within


WeWork, Holborn. June 6th, 2017

With Christobal Smales, top solicitior at Pemberton Greenish and Annie Auerbach, a specialist in working culture intelligence

Research shows that unconscious bias can heavily influence recruitment and promotion decisions. It is one of the major obstacles to gender equality in a workplace. So what can we do to identify this bias in our workplaces? Is it something that we might even be prone to? And what can we do to eradicate it? Our panel discussed their insights and experiences of this much misunderstood phenomenon, as well as offered some great advice on how to combat it.

Our two speakers offered very interesting perspectives on unconscious bias we can all be guilty, as well as victim, of. From Christobal’s personal experience taking her wedding ring off for an interview, to Annie’s own experience going back to work, we appreciated greatly their honesty, openness and insight.

What exactly is unconscious bias? We googled it.

“Unconscious biases are the result of our limited cognitive capacity; we implicitly and automatically both group and categorise people to avoid having to conduct completely new assessments for every new person. Unconscious biases are our unintentional people preferences, formed by our socialisation and experiences, including exposure to the media. We unconsciously assign positive and negative value to the categories we use.”

As Annie discussed, there are multiple studies that provide evidence that unconscious bias continues to infiltrate almost every decision made within businesses, from hiring decisions affected by the age and marital status, to promotions and partnership decisions. These biases start at very young ages, exacerbated by advertising promoting ideas of who boys and girls are. Sadly we weren’t surprised to hear that results from a Princeton study showed that by the age of 6 years old, girls assume that boys are more likely to be ‘really really smart’ than girls (ugh)

We learnt that unconscious bias can take varying forms. Affinity bias results in people looking for others that mirror their same qualities. When there are more CEOs called John in the FTSE 100 than there are women, this makes it difficult for women to get hired or promoted to the top. There is also Halo bias, which results in people looking for a particular attribute they consider attractive (read not great at public speaking, but went to the same school as me).

So what can companies do to fight against this?

– companies can commit to drawing up 50/50 male/female short lists when recruiting for new roles

– ensure both women and men are on hiring teams

– commit to pay equality

– measure the value people bring to a role, rather than the hours spent sitting at their desk

And what can we personally do?

– Call it out!

– Check ourselves, and the assumptions we make about peopl

– Be conscious of how we raise our kids about gender roles

We recommend everyone to fill out the Harvard unconscious bias test which can be found here – our results from this suggest we have further work to iron out our own unconscious biases!

Inspiring Girls to Dream High

Broadminded Miriam-Gonzalez-Durantez

WeWork, Soho, March 22nd, 2017

Miriam is founder and chairwoman of Inspiring Women, a UK mentoring campaign which now has a global focus on raising the aspirations of young girls around the world by connecting girls and female role models. Miriam re-ignited the fire in our mission to educate the next generation of girls to be strong women, and personified a BroadMinded role model – ambitious, focused, and pushing to take other women with her to the top.

Some of the insights Miriam shared were shocking but maybe not surprising; that
confidence starts to drop for girls from as young as 10 years old, that girls start to believe their career opportunities are limited to the 5 Cs (caring, catering, cashiering, clerical, cleaning) from as young as 6 years old, and that girls stop speaking up when boys are in the classroom. Clearly there is a lot of work to be done encouraging girls to share the confidence young boys have in their abilities and position in the world.
We hope you were therefore inspired to join her brilliant campaign Inspiring Women – they ask for only one hour of your time to spend at a local school sharing details of your work and career to inspire young girls about the options available to them. We’re signed up already!

Click here to read more about the campaign

Financial New Year Resolutions – starting 2017 on the right foot

WeWork, Holborn. February 7th, 2016

For this important topic we were excited to have both Claer Barrett, the FT’s award-winning personal finance editor, and Emilie Ballat, the founder and CEO of Vestpod, an exciting start up designed to help women get smart about money, to lead a full and frank discussion. We were thrilled with the value of the advice offered by Claer and Emilie, and the quality of the questions afterwards. As one of our members said afterwards, who knew finance and investment advice could be so interesting!

We always pick the top 10 lessons we learn from an event, but this time we had pages of the stuff! With much difficulty we whittled it down:

  1. Women are statistically not as good at managing their finances as men, but changing this bias will be increasingly important – by 2028 women will inherit two thirds of the world’s wealth
  2. “Expenditure rises to meet income” – be warned! Commit to putting time aside to manage this on a regular basis, looking at this once a year isn’t sufficient.
  3. A good rule of thumb is to spend 50% of your salary on fixed expenses, invest 20% of it, and leave 30% for additional spending (the fun stuff). Look at new challenger banks such as Monzo who provide a brilliant interface to show you how you’re spending your money
  4. Save! Even if it’s small, the benefits of compound investment will start to benefit you. Look at investment or Lifetime ISAs. Women are over invested in cash ISAs which offer very low returns
  5. Additional income can be put to overpaying your mortgage to reduce future mortgage repayments (although in this interest environment that may not be the best use of cash), or go and talk to your HR teams about over investing in your pension – a highly tax efficient way of saving for your future.
  6. Ask for pay rises – while women ask just as much, we don’t have as much confidence we’ll get it. Don’t expect to be recognised and paid more by osmosis, you need to regularly communicate the value you add to your company. Don’t just wait until your pay review to do this.
  7. Passive investment funds are more often a better investment than active investment funds.
  8. If you want to invest in individual shares, make sure it’s money you can afford to lose. It is a gamble.
  9. If you need to manage down credit card debt, move the debt to a zero interest credit card. Divide the balance by the number of zero-interest months offered, and set up a direct debit to pay this much each month. Then cut up the credit card until you’ve paid it off.
  10. Pension or mortgage – ideally both. You shouldn’t look to sacrifice one for another

And remember, April is just round the corner so you should be reviewing your Finances and particularly ISAs now before the end of the tax year. Go forth and manage those finances!

The 100 Year Life: Living & Working in the Age of Longevity with Lynda Gratton


12 Hay Hill, London. July 26th 2016

Living to 100 years. A terrifying or exciting thought? 50% of those aged 20 today are expected to reach 100, and this shift in life expectancy will affect us all.

Professor Lynda Gratton from London Business School came to tell us what to expect from this elongated life, a subject explored in her new book ‘The 100 Yr Life’. Beyond the thought-provoking talk Lynda gave us over dinner at the beautiful 12 Hay Hill, Lynda’s own achievements are incredibly inspiring. Lynda was named amongst the 15 top thought leaders in the Thinkers50 ranking, and has had a fascinating and varied career: a wonderful role model for us all.

Here are 10 things we learned last night that
this increased longevity means for young women today:

1. We will need to work until our late 70s (at least!) and the
retirement age will go up, but no political party will tell us this as
it’s not something the electorate wants to hear.

2. This is likely to shift the traditional linear three-stage life
(full time education, full time work, retirement) to a multi-stage

3. This means a life that might include portfolio careers, as well as
periods as ‘independent producers’ and ‘adventurers’ (gap years won’t
be just for 19 year olds!)

4. These stages will order differently for each of us and so age
becomes less important. We’ll become more age agnostic with our
friendships and working relationships, as we work for longer and
retire later

5. The lengthening of life is simple for men, it stretches out evenly.
As women, think about it like an elastic band, where the only time
that isn’t stretching is the period in which you can have babies. It’s
life post-babies that gets longer, and that’s an opportunity!

6. For women, does going back to work soon after having babies buy us
an option for the future? Just think you working future might be 20
years longer than it was for your mother. Dual income households have
become the norm

7. Money allows you to retire early (do invest in these tangible
assets), but intangible assets allow you to keep working for longer.
These are productive assets (skills and reputation), vitality assets
(health and friendships) and transformational assets (self knowledge,
diverse networks and openness to experience)

8. Friendships and relationships play a hugely important role in
happiness. Remember, you can be the richest person in the world but
money can’t buy a 50-year friendship

9. Build those intangible assets, but don’t be overly focused on one.
They can build up over time. However don’t allow any of these
intangible assets to deplete for a long period of time

10. We’re living in a period in which technology is drastically
changing the world of work. Technology is hollowing out the labour
market, replacing unskilled jobs and augmenting skilled ones. Learn to
be a specialist in something, not a generalist; go deep into what
you’re interested in to differentiate from the pack

And the number one piece of advice for a long life…? SLEEP!

Kate Philp: From Afghanistan to Antarctica

Man Group HQ, London. April 26th 2017
Kate joined the Army straight from Oxford University and was deployed on front-line operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) put an end to her tour of Afghanistan and Kate’s injuries resulted in her electing to have her leg amputated below the knee. At the end of 2013 Kate trekked to the South Pole as part of an expedition organised by Walking With The Wounded, braving -45 degree temperatures, frost bite and exhaustion.
Kate talked to us about drawing on her resilience to overcome both professional and personal challenges, in a fascinating journey that took her from fighting on the front line in Afghanistan to surviving in the hostile environment of Antarctica. Kate is truly inspiring; her spirit, determination and general attitude to life is something we’ll all hope to replicate.
Here are 10 key takeaways from the evening:
1. Think of the four Es: explore, express, examine, experience
2. Keep things in perspective: there’s always someone worse off than you
3. Remember your goal but don’t be afraid to redefine success
4. Get out of your comfort zone and test your limits
5. Trust yourself and the decisions you make; this goes deeper than confidence
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; and be ready to help others
7. Exercise your body and your mind
8. Don’t be defined by labels
9. Don’t just exist, be excited
10. And always have Prince Harry on hand to do the washing up…

Insights from the most powerful woman banker in Britain


Grace Belgravia, London. March 23rd 2017

We were thrilled to have Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money, come and talk to us. We found her down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach very inspirational; she has some quite incredible stories and a wicked sense of humour.

As always it was difficult to cut our takeaways down to 10, but the biggest lessons we took from the evening were:

1) Embrace the opportunities that life throws at you

2) Creating relationships and building a network opens doors

3) Don’t be afraid to ask for help: “what is life about if we can’t all help each other?”

4) You don’t need a thick skin and bullsh*t to sell products if the products are good and the people are legitimate

5) Work with people who are different to you

6) Try and make the most of the work/life balance

7) Keep your naivety and never stop being surprised

8) Be a troublemaker: break out of the rules that people make for no reason

9) Be clear on the company’s purpose: making money is not a purpose, it’s an outcome

10) Be more than a brand: show what your substance is

Above all, BE YOURSELF.

This week marked the launch of the Gadhia report on women in finance. BroadMinded was delighted to contribute to it and the round table we held is quoted on the homepage of the report’s website. Here are the 10 key recommendations in the report:

1) Invest in supportive people managers

2) Create the right culture

3) Provide technology which supports flexible working

4) Ensure there are transparent pay structures

5) Increase the number of female role models

6) Implement good flexible working policies

7) and 8) Supporting working parents

9) Offer mentoring schemes and ‘active’ sponsorship

10) Provide Opportunities for women to gain commercial experience

Read the full report:

Building a Network for those who Hate Networking with Zella King


Financial Times HQ, London. February 2nd 2017

Academic research shows that it tends to be harder for women to have a strong network and here’s why:

– the force of numbers: the top is dominated by men who are likely to seek out and promote people who are like them e.g. other men

– women are less likely to use their network connections for their own advantage

– women are afraid to be seen as too pushy because success and likeability are seen as being positively correlated with men and negatively correlated with women

Here is what we learned about what it means to use your network to get ahead:

– 20 per cent of the time you should be out there meeting people

– think about the three categories of people in your personal boardroom: those who can bring you power, those who can bring you information and those who can help you develop

– if you’re not telling your sponsor what you achieved, someone else will be telling your sponsor what they achieved

– ask people for help with a specific question (avoid “will you be my mentor?”). They will be likely more willing to meet you on a specific topic.

– think about who are the people who shape decisions outside the meeting room; try and have the “meeting before the meeting”

– if someone says no to your request for help, you’re still in the same position. Therefore there is only upside to asking, as they might say yes.

– which role do you fill for others in their personal boardroom? It’s a two-way process.

Further reading: Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time by Jeffrey Pfeffer

Sex discrimination and gender at work – a discussion with leading barrister Marina Wheeler


Jean-Jaques Restaurant, London. November 25th, 2015

Marina Wheeler led a very lively discussion, so lively that the waiters started clearing up around us as the restaurant was closing! Marina admitted to having a resurgence in feminist beliefs, driven by a sudden realisation of how slow progress has been over the last 30 years.

Marina was a wonderful speaker, and left us with 10, and more, things to think about from her excellent talk:

  1. Women are not being kept out anymore but it’s not all sweetness and light. Only one in five High Court judges are women; and there are fewer women leading FTSE firms than men called John.
  2. Society’s main preoccupation seems to be how attractive a woman is – and this falls within a narrow definition. eg Hilary Mantel, Mary Beard, Cherie Blair, and Samantha Cameron’s lack of pedicure
  3. If appearance is the main currency, it objectifies women and ensures that they will only flourish for a short-lived period of time.
  4. Women are guilty of objectifying men (albeit to a lesser extent). Just look at the reaction to the new Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau…
  5. Charlotte Proudman and LinkedIn-gate…one woman’s charm is another woman’s flirting – the two are very open to personal interpretation. Excessive focus on women’s appearance limits our freedom and it should be addressed – but what is a constructive way and forum in which to respond? Is failure to shout out colluding and condoning sexism?
  6. The media is inconsistent in its portrayal of sexism and related issues. A month before the Charlotte Proudman case, the Telegraph published Britain’s 25 sexist solicitors.
  7. Women’s choices aren’t as free as we think they are: we face a spectrum of overt discrimination, internal barriers and practical considerations such as the cost of childcare.
  8. Why do we hold ourselves back? Assertive females may be respected but they’re not liked. Women are brought up to put others first. The Heidi/Howard test shows that success and likeability, concludes Sheryl Sandberg, are positively correlated for men and negatively for women.
  9. “Kids are the killer to progression.” Sometimes older women are unsympathetic because they want to validate their own choices.
  10. Gender stereotypes are still going strong. Women end up doing the lion’s share of the housework. Women need to lean in at work; men must lean in at home. Men and women’s happiness benefits from greater flexibility of roles and a breaking down of stereotypes.

Further reading:

  • Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, by Natasha Walter
  • Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers, by Lois Frankel

And finally some words of wisdom from Marina’s husband: “Mess it up and move on.”