Stefano Marrone

HeForShe: Stefano Marrone | Founder and MD, Nucco Brain

Stefano MarroneStefano Marrone is Founder and MD of Nucco Braina tech-led strategic agency that creates innovative content (eg: AR and VR experiences) for clients including Deloitte, the European Space Agency, Google, HSBC, JP Morgan, BBC, John Lewis Partnership and Water Aid.

Stefano Marrone is also a former Forbes ‘100 Under 30’ alumnus, a Google for Startups Accelerator programme mentor and a guest lecturer for a number of leading UK universities, including Goldsmiths University of London, UCL, SOAS and ESCP.

After a career in Italian advertising agencies and the Canadian entertainment industry, Marrone moved to London to gain an MA in Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship from Goldsmiths University. He then founded Nucco Brain, which is now part of the UNIT9 Group (named Tech Company of the Year 2020’ by ad land bible, Campaign).

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – have you witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

We have definitely strongly benefited from a diverse leadership and workforce. The variety of angles from which business challenges can be seen is higher, and so are our options when tackling and solving them.

We also believe that more diversity in the business provides better creative outcomes for our clients. Creativity thrives when different points of view, cultures and opinions can interact and enrich each other.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Sadly, it’s true that often positions of power are still largely held by men. If we want gender equality to happen, we need to get men involved and sponsor it as much as possible.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I think it’s a mixed bag at the moment. I have felt unwelcome in some of the events and conversations I’ve joined in-person and online. Too often men are seen as “the enemy” for this cause, but they can be as big an advocate as women, if they are allowed to join the fight.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

If a man feels that way just because of the name of a group, we are in trouble as a society. Gender equality is so clearly a challenge that hasn’t been resolved, that any group called “Women in XXX” just clearly identifies its area of interest.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Firstly, simply make the invitation. And repeat it often. Saying “all men are welcome” in a clear way is helpful to break hesitation.
Second, make clear the difference between listening and sharing moments.

Sometimes, I haven’t joined a group or a conversation out of respect, to leave space for a forum. It’s important for an association that promotes gender equality to clearly define the moments when men are invited to take part of the conversation and the ones when it’s about having a safe space to discuss without boundaries or feeling watched.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I am part of the Seed Mentorship Program at Ravensbourne University, where I have mentored two very talented female students on how to build a portfolio and launch their career. I will certainly do so next year too.

As MD of Nucco Brain, the career progression of my direct reports is essential and, at the moment, four out of seven of them are women.

Working with the Google Startup Accelerator programme, the opportunities to mentor female funders have been many in the past years, and will be in the future. It is one of the aspects of mentorships I like the most.

Incidentally, one of the key mentors in my life is a woman; the amazing Kate Gray.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

I often find myself insisting on “fighting for your space, because no-one else will”. In general, it’s frankly disheartening to see many talented women being ignored in the room just because they are not the loudest, most aggressive or most cocky.

Most women I have mentored feel the need for external approval - a certification, a degree, formal praise - before even trying something new when they are perfectly capable of the task in hand, whilst many men will just “give it a shot”.

I don’t think the problem is in seniority per se, but the unnecessary need of validation outside of self-belief on the capacity to complete a task, or be right for the role.

In my career, I have definitely hired my share of under-qualified men that ended-up being a disappointment and plenty of overqualified women that didn’t show their full potential during the interview process.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here.


Adam Philpott, McAfee featured

HeForShe: Adam Philpott | EMEA President, McAfee

Adam Philpott, McAfeeAs EMEA President of McAfee, Adam Philpott leads the EMEA region with a focus on building truly diverse teams to drive sales and success at every level of the business.

In this role, Adam is responsible for growing the business across EMEA as well as developing stronger partnerships with the channel and customers across McAfee’s consumer and enterprise security portfolio.

Before joining McAfee, Adam held the role of Senior Director, EMEAR, Cyber Security at Cisco. With more than 17 years of experience at the IT and networking conglomerate, Adam has a proven record of working in the security industry and boosting business growth.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

I’ve always been surrounded by strong female role models. I was brought up by a single mother, which I’d say is part of the reason why driving equality is a personal passion of mine. Together with the McAfee leadership team, I strive to achieve our diversity goals and we are committed to creating a diverse, inclusive culture across the company.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I’m an active member of McAfee’s WISE (Women in Security) Affinity Group, which is one of the company’s employee-run networks, focused on supporting the growth, empowerment, and success of women. With around 1,000 members globally, the group includes both women and men at all levels. Given my current role, I also focus on how we can continue encouraging wider diversity in EMEA and spearheading initiatives that empower women in the industry more broadly – both employees and those considering careers in STEM.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Without male support when it comes to gender equality in the workplace, the pace of change will not improve. As the incumbents, if men don’t sign up to challenge the status quo, the voice of change will ultimately be diminished.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I think it’s incumbent upon men to get involved in the gender equality conversation. Personally, I like to think not just about what we say, but what we do, however big or small. Like many of the debates focused on minority rights and boosting diversity, those who are in the position of privilege are naturally nervous about what to say – they often don’t feel they have the right to contribute, or may even feel they shouldn’t speak out as they are part of the problem. In other cases, men may not be sure how to get involved. However, a noble intent and demonstrable desire to drive change, even without knowing how, is a good start.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Personally, no I don’t, as these groups are necessary to create strength in numbers and a community platform. However, I do see the rise of the term “ally” as something powerful to engage and co-opt men into actively driving change alongside women.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

The vital step to encourage more men into actively involving themselves in the gender debate is to normalise it. It’s often an exception, rather than the rule. As a result, I believe regular, visible, values-based leadership can go a long way. However, this shouldn’t just be from the top. It’s key to encourage this and normalise men actively supporting equal rights for women in the workplace across all levels of an organisation.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

My experience of mentoring has always shown that each and every person – whether a woman or a man – has unique strengths and weaknesses. However, I do believe that we need to underpin confidence for every single individual through support, coaching, leadership flexibility and action. For example, every organisation should think through the language and individuals involved in attracting female talent, and ensure that flexible leaders are in place to act as coaches and help women develop and succeed with confidence. These leaders should also ensure scrutiny over hidden biases such as working practices to ensure women are able to contribute and in doing so, are equal in their promotion and career development prospects.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here


Stuart Nyemecz

HeForShe: Stuart Nyemecz | Senior Director & Head of Enterprise, Dell Technologies

Stuart NyemeczAt Dell Technologies Stuart Nyemecz leads the Enterprise Business in the UK.

Ultimately, they help leading companies deal with the myriad of challenges around realising their Digital Transformation, and in the Enterprise division, they work with the largest and most complex organisations globally. Stuart is responsible for our largest customer relationships, for developing value propositions for the UKI market, setting business development strategy and driving talent development for the customer facing teams. He is a Board Member, a Diversity Champion and spokesperson for Dell Technologies, and he plays an active part in a number of EMEA and Global leadership committees.

Stuart Nyemecz is an advocate of balancing a strong work ethic with time for family and adventure, having taken a six-month sabbatical with his own young family to travel the world. He is privileged to be able to use his professional platform to help drive his personal passion in creating a fairer world for his daughters. Stuart holds a BSc in Computer Science from Durham University and an alumni of Cranfield Business School.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?

I support HeForShe from a business perspective as a leader because I am a strong believer in innovation to drive business performance. Innovation comes from the successful execution of new ideas; diversity of talent brings increased diversity of ideas and therefore helps to find new solutions and accelerate progress. I enjoy working in an environment that is representative of the real world we live in and reflects the customers and partners that we have the privilege to support. From a personal perspective, growing up in London and being part of a diverse and multi-cultural community has always been my own normal. I have a wife that works in Finance in the City, and we have two young daughters that are still in primary education, so want to do my part to create a fairer world for them to fulfil their potential.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Gender Equality isn’t a female problem, it is a collective problem as with any form of inequality, which whether we realise it or not prevents real inclusive progress; so, it falls on all of us, men included, to help address it. Given that in most workplaces, men still make up the majority of the workforce, it is even more important that men are dialled into and supportive of these efforts if we are to collectively address the balance so that we are not just talking about it but pro-actively putting in measures & environments that support the recruitment & career progression of our female colleagues.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I have personally always been made to feel extremely welcome in supporting these conversations. I currently sit as part of the leadership team on two steering boards; one more generally around all aspects of diversity and inclusion, and one more specifically focused on gender diversity and supporting the creation of an environment that allows the women in our business the opportunity to fulfil their potential without gender barriers in place.

I am acutely aware that there is a limit to how comprehensively I can truly understand the challenges from a female perspective, and I think at times men can feel self-conscious about this. We must strike a balance between effective advocacy and our own awareness about voicing an opinion on areas that we may not have directly experienced. I have always found however, that if your views are well-intentioned, and your actions genuine, then your support is rarely questioned and the more support we can garner the better. By being open and part of the conversation, we are all in a much better position to support progress.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

I personally don’t subscribe to the view that the name changes the emphasis for who is responsible for solving the problem. That isn’t to say the naming convention isn’t important. I have found the name of the group alone can put some people off from initially approaching a network or community, as they sometimes feel that if they don’t fall into the demographic represented by the name, then they somehow don’t qualify to be part of the group and contribute.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Firstly, it is about creating an environment where everyone can feel safe and secure about sharing their views, creating that trust that allows everyone to be themselves, so that they won’t be judged.

Secondly, I think it is important that men aren’t being positioned as, or seen as the enemy, that men are somehow broken, and that we need to fix the men to fix the issue. The systemic challenges we face in addressing the gender inequality issue extend well beyond the walls of the office and are established well before people enter the world of work. Once that is understood and established then it isn’t about pointing the finger, it is about what we can do to collectively to address it.

Thirdly, we need more influential male role models, visibly and actively supporting these topics, not just in words, but in their actions. That doesn’t necessarily mean more men taking centre stage, but it is important that they play an active supporting role.

Lastly, with any group of society that hold a majority position within a space, they have an inherent responsibility to encourage the inclusion on those who are underrepresented. Whilst women tend to be the minority in the workplace in general, they are often the majority in the groups focused on this debate, so they by actively encouraging men to join the debate they can start to broaden that conversation. Some men, depending on their background, don’t know what it’s like to sit within a group who are underrepresented, so it is amazing how easily it can be to feel intimated in that situation. Luckily, living in a household with three strong females, I am pretty much used to being in the minority these days and am well accustomed to it!

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes. I currently have three women that I mentor, along with two men. The three women I mentor are at very different stages of their working career, however, all share the common goal of being the best they can be and fulfil their potential, whether they are just starting out in the world of work or are looking to finish their career having achieved or exceeded the expectations they set out with for themselves.

Internally, I have just championed a collaboration app in collaboration with Natalie Eicher, the CEO of Mettacool, which helps to connect Mentors and Mentees across the organisation. We use this platform to help open-up and expand the Network for Female Talent, creating new relationships, new sponsors, and identifying opportunities to further their career and fulfil their potential.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

I find that every individual I mentor now, or have mentored in the past, irrespective of gender, are different in how they view their own capability and how they promote themselves or put their names into contention for certain roles.

Whilst I tend to try and avoid generalisations, from my own personal recent experience, the female mentees I have worked with tend to demonstrate far greater levels of humility, to the point of underestimating their own capability, and as a result don’t put themselves forward as readily as their male counterparts. That is why I believe that in addition to the investments an individual can make in their own career, companies need to develop a proactive and programmatic approach to ensure that every individual within their organisation is encouraged to be the very best they can be, whatever their personal level of ambition is.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here.

 

 


HeForShe: Wil Benton | Venture & Ecosystem Director, ATI Boeing Accelerator

Wil BentonWil is the Venture & Ecosystem Director at ATI Boeing Accelerator. It's a 3-month programme for world-class startups building industry 4.0 and sustainability enabling technologies, with the potential to bolster the growth and competitiveness of the UK aerospace industry.

Prior to becoming Venture & Ecosystem Director at the accelerator, Wil delivered similar programmes at Ignite, directly supporting 38 companies in accelerator and pre-accelerator programmes. Wil is also a former co-founder and CEO of Chew, a music-tech startup that was acquired in 2017 after scaling to ~400,000 global users, and alumni of Ignite [Prog. 5, Winter 2014].

Wil is an active angel investor (15+ investments to date) and startup mentor. In his free time, he manages a chart-topping record label and DJs around Europe and the US.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

As the only man in a team of two to four other women, I’m a firsthand witness to the benefits diversity can bring to our workplace. Without diversity of thought, background, gender, race - whatever - you will struggle to create a meaningful environment for growth.

I have also seen the struggles my partner has faced as a women in a male-dominated industry and am therefore doing my small part in trying to change that.

That’s why I support the HeForShe campaign.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

If only one part of the workplace is driving for change, change will never happen. The fact we’re having to have this conversation in the 21st century is beyond me - but it’s clear there’s a huge amount of work still to be done. Thankfully the conversation is now more front-and-centre than it has been historically, but it’s critical that men play their part to support gender equality so we can all make it happen.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

In my experience, men are welcome - I think it’s important to reflect on everyone’s experiences but provide a place for sharing ideas for change and improving the situation. If only one side is having that conversation, we’re not going to make much of a change! But yes, I think the conversation is open to and happening with both men and women.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

I don’t know - it’s not something that makes me feel that way and I can’t speak for others! I think it’s great that there are these groups/ networks that provide the opportunity for this dialogue to happen, but I also think that - as a community - we can do better, and create more inclusive opportunities in  mixed groups/ networks as well as the individual/ disparate ones. It shouldn’t be hard!

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

I think the first step is to flag that the debate is happening, and that it needs/ should be something we’re all consciously aware of. There are a number of initiatives pushing this forward (shout out to 50:50, Lu Li, Diversity VC and everyone else doing the good work!), but it needs to be part of the business values to really lead to any positive difference. It’s not a tickbox exercise, and so if treated as such it’s just window dressing. And that’s not good enough.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I do what I can to share my experience as a founder, investor, advisor etc and mentor anyone I connect with that I think I can help. At the moment I’m mentoring and advising a few startups, some of which are female-founded. It’s a really rewarding process and one that’s worked for me (as a mentee) in the past. Mentoring should be something everyone does - you’d be surprised at what providing a second opinion on things (or receiving one) can do for personal development!

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for? 

The amazing women I’ve mentored (or am working with at the moment) are driven, keen to speak up and ask for help - but yes, there are occasions where confidence and trusting in ones’ self can take some time to come forward and be as established as the bare-faced swagger that some of the male founders I’ve worked with have!


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here


Christian Edelmann

HeForShe: Christian Edelmann | Co-Head EMEA Financial Services, Oliver Wyman; Executive Sponsor of Oliver Wyman’s Women’s Network; & Co-Founder of Men4Change

Christian Edelmann

Christian Edelmann is Co-Head EMEA Financial Services & Global Head Wealth & Asset Management practice at Oliver Wyman.

He is also the Executive Sponsor of Oliver Wyman’s Women’s Network and a co-founder of Men4Change, a network to create and support male allies and advocates for gender equality in the workplace. To find out more about Men4Change and get involved, contact ukevents@oliverwyman.com

Why I became an advocate for gender diversity

My wife first introduced me to the challenges women can face in the workplace when they are in the minority. She opened my eyes to the lack of gender diversity in most businesses.

I work in the financial services sector, where this is a particular problem. At Oliver Wyman, we’ve been examining the representation of women in senior roles in financial services since 2014. Back then, we found that on average 13 percent of executive committees were women, a number which grew to 20 percent in 2019.

While this is change in the right direction, the pace is too slow: at this rate, it would be 2035 before we achieve gender balance on executive committees at financial services companies. This is, quite simply, not good enough.

Men must support gender equality in the workplace

I’ve been serving as the executive sponsor of Oliver Wyman’s women’s network, WOW, for nearly four years. As a team we are clear about what needs to be done next to accelerate gender equalisation, and it’s not just more activities for women. It’s greater engagement from men.

This makes sense because men still make up most of the world’s biggest companies, especially at the executive level. We must get involved if the whole business is to benefit from inclusion and diversity.

In management consulting, we are addressing some of the toughest problems businesses face. From digitalisation to Brexit to climate change, solutions come from having creative teams. This creativity comes from having a diversity of ideas and perspectives, and an environment of inclusion where people feel able to share their ideas.

Engaging other men in conversations on gender equality

I’ve always felt very welcomed to conversations around gender equality at Oliver Wyman, in part because I am not afraid to raise the subject and ask questions. When I don’t understand something my network of female colleagues have always been willing to invest their time to educate me, for example by sharing their experiences.

Our women’s network has always been open to all genders, but to increase the engagement of men they’ve helped establish Men4Change. This is a forum where men can start to better understand the challenges facing women, get involved with the debate, have their questions answered, and find out tangible steps they can take to make a difference.

When engaging with men, we make it clear that we are not assigning blame. The purpose is to create empowered champions of inclusion, not to reprimand men for the problem. This approach is helping Men4Change expand its reach beyond those who are already interested in diversity. However, encouraging participation from disinterested or passive individuals remains a huge challenge.

The role I play in career development

For most of my time at Oliver Wyman, I have mentored equal numbers of men and women. Now, I actively mentor two female colleagues and am lightly involved advising another half dozen.

I’ve read in the media that some women are less likely than men to put themselves forward for jobs that are very senior or out of their comfort zones. I hope that my efforts in mentoring individuals and sponsoring our women’s network have helped create an environment where everyone feels heard, valued, and able to take up new challenges.

Additionally, we’re looking at supporting career development through sponsorship. Sponsors not only ensure that women are pushing themselves forward, but also use their seniority to actively help them advance.

The future of gender equality in the workplace

Looking ahead, we’re seeing gender-based targets within businesses become more granular: they are no longer looking at senior leadership alone, but increasingly every step of the career ladder. Nurturing the talent pipeline in this way will accelerate the journey towards equality, but, as men are most often at the top of businesses, they need to lead it.

Beyond counting the number of women at each level of the business, executive teams are starting to want to better measure firm culture, as this strongly determines women will stay within the firm in the long term. I expect we’ll see more efforts to track in real-time behaviours and attitudes and identify the drivers behind them. Armed with this information, companies can re-shape their workplace cultures to be more welcoming and inclusive of everyone.


Danny Brooks featured

HeForShe: Danny Brooks | Founder & CEO, VHR

Danny Brooks

Danny Brooks is the CEO and Founder of VHR, a technical recruitment firm specialising in compliant and ethical recruitment across 50 countries.

Danny was named Global Director of the Year by the Institute of Directors (IoD) in 2018.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

Recruitment is often considered to have a ‘laddish’ culture dominated by white men. VHR constantly strives to improve diversity and in particular we drive diverse leadership: the two management levels below Board are 60% female, 50% BAME and 20% LGBT. Diversity has made our business stronger and more financially successful – in the past three years we have doubled our workforce and in the past four years almost doubled our turnover, which has coincided with efforts to recruit more women into the team and in management positions.

As a recruiter, I am passionate about spotting the potential in people, whatever it may be, and helping them to harness it and strive for excellence throughout any obstacles that may come in their way. From day one since I started the business in 2003, it’s been vital to me that VHR recognise the value of every employee and we are determined that age, gender, race or background are not barriers to success.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Men make up half the population – if we don’t support gender equality, progress will take much longer. As we hold the majority of senior positions across industries, we have the power to effect change much more quickly and easily, and if we don’t, it’s a wasted opportunity.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I believe men have increasingly been made welcome in the conversation, as society and businesses are understanding the benefits of gender equality – when women succeed, we all succeed, and it’s our collective responsibility to help each other.

I think a lot of men have historically felt that gender equality isn’t really their problem, regardless of how women’s rights have been positioned – many men I’ve worked with don’t or didn’t see a problem, because they aren’t negatively affected. Thankfully, however, this has changed significantly in the past few years. Younger male recruiters in particular now seem more supportive of gender equality and are more engaged with the importance of diversity in all forms.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Personally, I feel that whilst anything titled ‘women in…’ is absolutely correct and does not exclude men from the conversation, men are probably more likely to remain on the peripheries of these groups than networks that are not specifically focused on gender, simply because they might not feel they have a right to be included.

I think men are often unaware of the benefits they too can receive from getting involved in gender equality. Small changes to groups or initiatives could help to reframe the issue and highlight the negative impacts of gender roles on both men and women, which could help raise awareness amongst men who are currently disengaged or who worry about their place in the conversation.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Change in business comes from the top down: CEOs and Boards must publicly show their support for gender equality and communicate this consistently across the organisation. If male employees see male managers and leaders getting involved, they will feel more encouraged to get involved and more secure in their place in the debate. Promoting the success of both men and women who get involved in initiatives such as workshops and mentoring programmes will ensure all employees know their contribution is desired and valuable.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I have acted as a mentor for several female Apprentices in the past. Rebecca Fagan joined VHR straight from school six years ago – since then she has consistently been the top performer in her entire department. We have promoted Rebecca four times so far and she now leads the VHR Academy, helping to train up other Apprentice-level recruiters.

In September 2019 VHR announced our new long-term partnership with Youth Employment UK. The not-for-profit organisation supports more than 70,000 young people per month with free careers and skills information, and practical help to start rewarding careers. I and my team of recruitment consultants are starting to share our own career experiences and give advice to young people looking for their first jobs.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

In many ways, women are often held to the same behavioural standards as men in recruitment – it’s quite a loud, competitive and traditionally masculine environment, and I have known many female recruiters who adapt to this way of being and working and have become very successful because of it.

Since running my own business and becoming a manager, I have noticed that women are far less likely to put themselves forward for promotions or ask for pay rises. Male employees have historically seemed more confident in pushing for more benefits or more responsibility, but I think that as we continue to invest in the development of female leaders at VHR this will change.


Tim Dinsdale

HeForShe: Tim Dinsdale | CTO Europe, OpenFin

Tim DinsdaleTim is European CTO of OpenFin. Prior to joining in 2019, he was a Managing Director in the Technology Division at Goldman Sachs, where he worked for fifteen years.

Tim has worked in a variety of languages and environments in his career, from assembly on the PS2, to scripting financial payoffs, to the internals of custom languages written in C++.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

Several years ago, my wife returned to school for a medical degree, and I took on many of the household responsibilities that often fall to working mothers. It made me realize just how grueling and exhausting their experience can be. The women in our industry work just as hard as the men, yet they’re often the ones who shuttle the kids to school, shop for groceries and so on. That experience gave me a new perspective and made me passionate about the standing of women in the workplace.

I’ve also noticed the benefits that diversity can bring to the workplace. In my industry—engineering—there is often a lack of communication. Generally, the woman engineers I’ve worked with are better at communicating, multi-tasking and overall bridging complicated gaps. They bring a different perspective, and hearing more perspectives can only help a business.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

There are myriad reasons, not the least of which is that it’s the right thing to do. But aside from the moral imperative, I see two major pragmatic reasons. First, if a company is not diligent about fostering gender equality, then the selection bias for promotions, raises and the like will favor the sort of people who are already in power. This is incredibly damaging, because talented employees who do not fit into this box will conclude there is no room for advancement and look elsewhere. The company will bleed staff. The second reason is that diversity aids decision-making processes. The more opinions there are in a room, the more likely a group is to uncover the right solution to a given problem. This may be a cliché, but I’ve seen it play out in the boardroom time and time again—a firm whose employees have identical life experiences is doing itself no favors.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

Men have an important role to play in these conversations, but in my experience, they don’t always feel welcome. The key thing to remember is that there are constructive topics and solutions that everyone should be aware of. Everybody can talk about understanding unconscious biases; everybody can talk about the constraints different people are under when they enter a room to be interviewed, discuss a promotion, get a performance review, et cetera. Often when we talk about gender equality in the workplace, we’re talking about people’s decision-making processes and the logic behind them. Framed this way, it’s a lot easier for men to get involved, because they can clearly see their place in the discussion.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

These initiatives can represent something of a double-edged sword. At one of my former employers, a colleague was invited to an event for high-performing female associates. She appreciated the networking opportunity and enjoyed herself, but couldn’t help but feel that she should have been recognized as simply a high-performing associate without her gender attached. Some women feel that the very existence of these initiatives is proof that they are outsiders in their industry.

That said, at their best, these groups are about coaching and mentoring—exactly what people miss out on when they’re not part of the ruling clique, so to speak. They provide access and validation, and the roles that men can play on these issues is a popular topic of discussion. These groups cannot be all things to all people, but for those who are comfortable with them, there is often real value.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

The first step is to create an environment in which everyone is happy—set ground rules and enforce them. Next, firms must examine their own hiring practices and make a concerted effort to be impartial in every way and at every level. It’s important to know exactly why you want to bring on a particular candidate and be able to articulate it, lest any unconscious biases take over. This encourages thinking about issues of diversity, which are often overlooked, and creates a meritocratic culture where employees expect and have an interest in hiring fairly. Again, looking at it from this angle, men feel more welcome to make their voices heard.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes, I have mentored a number of women in the past.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

I have noticed that, especially coming from a male-dominated industry. In these situations, it’s important to keep pushing. Women may be less likely to apply for a promotion just to “see what happens,” but if they don’t, there are men with the same qualifications who will. Don’t take their seeming reluctance as a lack of interest, but rather as an opportunity to validate. A mentor’s role is to help the mentee succeed, and to do this, men must strive to see things from a different perspective.


Moran Cerf

HeForShe: Professor Dr Morgan Cerf | Professor of Neuroscience & Business & the Alfred P. Sloan professor

Moran Cerf

Moran Cerf is a professor of neuroscience and business (Kellogg School of Management) and the Alfred P. Sloan professor (American Film Institute; ‘AFI’).

He is one of the speakers at the Fast Forward Forum 2019. Find out more at www.fastforwardforum.eu/

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the business?

A friend of mine, a gender research academic, was telling me about new research to show how gender equality in the workplace will financially benefit businesses.

Giving women more maternity leave makes them better workers, which boosts business and finances. Half of all customers are also women, so understanding them can boost business (even if you don’t care about equality). These are just a few of the many ways businesses can benefit financially from equality.

However, explaining equality to people in this way is a mistake. If you only discuss the business benefits, you are boiling equality down to finances. The main point is that it’s the right thing to do, and it would be the right thing to do, even if it was bad for business.

If you frame equality about finances, you’re missing the point. Equality isn’t about finances, it’s about doing the right thing.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

They are equally welcome.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

My field of academia is very outside the norm. It’s progressive and relatively equal. I don’t see inequality much in my workplace.

However, in my job, I do spend a lot of time talking to companies. I talk to them about the brain - an objective topic which doesn’t look at gender. I’ve noticed that at the end of each talk, there is almost 100% of the time a question about the difference between men and women.

People are yearning for an explanation of why the world is the way it is. They look at biology because it’s objective, and hope this can provide us with some explanation. Although my field is objective, people try to pull us into this conversation because they hope scientists will give them some answers.


Simon Hill FEATURED

HeForShe: Simon Hill | Founder & CEO, Wazoku

Simon Hill WazokuSimon Hill is CEO and founder at idea management firm, Wazoku, which works with organisations such as Waitrose, Ministry of Defence, HSBC and others, helping them unlock the ideas and innovation within the organisation.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

I support it because it’s needed, but it shouldn’t be. Yes, I have a daughter and hope that she grows into a world where this isn’t even a topic. Yes, I have witnessed (and know implicitly) the value of diversity in the workplace. But this is only a topic we need to highlight, because despite endless good words, our actions are still not delivering true diversity. Any business wanting to succeed needs to get past this line of questioning and start just embracing diversity across every aspect of its business. Less talk. More action.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

It just is. And I would seriously question anyone that didn’t think it's important.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

In general I am really not sure, but my personal experience is that this is an open conversation and it’s up to men to be in the conversation, but also to get beyond ‘talking’ into ‘doing’. Too many empty words, too little actual change. Everyone, regardless of gender, needs to stand up for equality and fairness, to speak up when we do not live up to the standards we should, but to also recognise when we do, because it isn’t all bad.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

I think we are currently part of a change in attitude and mindset that means these labels are necessary, but in general I don’t think that anyone really finds them to be overly satisfactory. It’s not so much about whether this makes it feel like a problem that men don’t need to deal with, and more that we have had to set things up to start the movement and highlight the very real challenges that women face in many different aspects of the workplace and wider community.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Be prepared to have the conversation openly and act on their words. It’s easy to say all the right things in your value statements and career literature. But actually acting on them and being a fair, ethical and equal employer in all areas, is another thing entirely. We also need to ensure that a fair and open conversation can be had on all sides and not stigmatise opinions. There is more education to be done here, but that only comes with bringing the topic and the real issues to the fore.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I work very closely with a number of women. Half of my management team are women and I am working closely with them to give them all the career support and guidance they all need, individually.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

This is a complex question and I wouldn’t want to generalise. There are things that we have a tendency to label as behaviour that is more ‘female or male’, when it is actually much more contextual. What I would say is that the women I find it easiest to work with tend to be hard working, tenacious and smart. Where I find they can sometimes need support is in how and when to speak up and push for the things they deserve. This is a two-way thing though and should come from an implicit trust on all sides. As organisations we have broken that trust and it can only be properly rebuilt by action.


Marc Woodhead featured

HeForShe: Marc Woodhead | CEO & Founder, Holograph

Marc Woodhead

Marc Woodhead is founder and CEO of cutting-edge software development business Holograph.

With 25 years’ experience in graphic design, computer system design, human-computer interaction and psychology, he is recognised as one of the UK’s most inventive creatives.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

I am blessed with two daughters; I am also lucky to have three women running my business. Operations Director, Finance Director and Platform Producer.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

To provide a balanced and normalised environment for everyone.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I don’t feel most men feel comfortable in the conversation, which is creating something of an imbalance in my opinion. There appears to be what amounts to a fear/anxiety being generated for the revised generation of men, by the appropriate response by women, after the actions and previous hundreds of years of misogyny and abuse by men in power.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Interesting, in a sense, I don’t feel men should be ‘helping’, I think they should be ‘not focussing’ on any concept of gender in making their decisions.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

I’m not sure I have the experience to comment on this as I have been lucky enough not to directly experience the kind of business that might make gender biased decisions. I suspect that a forum within which everyone is welcome to openly discuss things, including nurtured feelings of bias on both sides, may be a big ask!

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes, I am developing my Operations Director, supporting my Finance Director and working closely with both the aforementioned to bring our Platform Producer to Director level. I am also working closely with both our senior designers (one man and one woman) to impart my background experience and ideas in developing our brand, design culture, and managing our close working relationship with our clients.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

In my experience I have found the women on my team to be strong minded and focussed on success, driving change and defining their own futures within our business.