Evelyn Bourke: Why I champion women in business
I have long had a personal passion for helping people reach their full potential, regardless of gender, race, where they came from or sexual orientation. I feel I was lucky to get the education and support that enabled me to succeed in my chosen career. That’s why over the years, I have offered my support and encouragement to many talented women so they can do the same.
I feel truly honoured to be named amongst the top global leaders championing women in business in the 2018 Financial Times and HERoes list. I’d also like to congratulate our UK CEO David Hynam, who’s been named among the Top 50 Male Executives in this year’s list.
As the CEO of an organisation, you are the custodian of the company including the talents and progression of its people. And I am extremely proud of the fact that at Bupa we have a strong culture and heritage in employing women at all levels.
Currently, 50% of our Board is female, including me and the CFO, surpassing Lord Davies’ recommendation of 33% female representation by 2020, for the third year in a row. Women also make up 41% of the Bupa Executive Team. We are proud supporters of The 30% Club, and earlier this year we signed the UK Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter - a pledge that underlines our commitment to gender balance in our organisation. But I’m not complacent and I am committed to continuing to move this agenda forward. My personal mission is to ensure talented women continue to take on key roles across Bupa, particularly general management roles where women are typically less represented.
Outside Bupa I spent two years as a Non-Executive Director of Opportunity Now, a business-led charity focusing on gender equality. And I regularly speak at events which support women in their careers.
Earlier this year, I had the honour of being part of a panel discussion entitled ‘Managing in the age of #MeToo’ at The Times CEO Summit. Our discussion focused on the best way to manage a diverse workforce and promote equality. I shared four things with the panel which I believe make a real difference in retaining female talent: have great role models and sponsorships to help build confidence, offer flexible working to avoid presentism, invest in mental health and wellbeing, and reflect on what’s happening and why – whether it’s success or failure - to keep learning.
I strongly believe that championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace – which includes female representation – not only makes business sense, it makes common sense. It enables everyone to bring their best self to work, and not doing so would be a shocking waste of talent.