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Series Eight, Episode Six – Future Leaders and Change Makers: A focus on the future generation

Host Julia Streets is joined by Bem Le Hunte, Associate Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney and international author and expert in the field of Creative Intelligence, Susan Warner, Head of Community Engagement at Mastercard and Founder of Girls4Tech and Edwina Dunn, Chairman of Starcount and Founder of the Female Lead. In these three separate interviews Julia considers youth talent – our next generation of change makers and leaders. The episode explores models of education, the need to inspire female STEM talent from school age and examples of how to do this, the importance of visible living role models, how education must adapt to help students gain a broad set of skills, how organisations must respond and how all students can become future leaders with integrity, authenticity and creativity.

Bem le Hunte

Over the past three decades she has worked across a broad range of creative industries, from advertising and journalism, to publishing and new media. She’s been a creative consultant, creative director, brand consultant and copywriter (in the UK, Australia and India) for over 500 brands across a diverse range of media – covering the world’s most successful blue chip companies to social enterprises and start-ups. In her professional life, Bem has focused on digital innovation, educating consumers, clients, students and colleagues on the creative potential of next generation technology since the time she was creative director on the launch of Microsoft Windows ’95. Bem’s research interests lie in the thinking, theory and practice of creativity and in trailblazing educational innovation. She also has a research interest in cross-media innovation, storytelling and the social, cultural and political impact of media consumption. At UTS, Bem is the course director for the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation, responsible for the interdisciplinary integrity and inspiration behind this flagship combined degree. She teaches creative thinking, theory and practice across disciplines from Anthropology to Media and Creative Writing – and works with academics from across all faculties at UTS as well as with industry stakeholders, to create this world-first, future-facing transdisciplinary degree. Currently, Bem is working on her fourth book. Her novels, short stories, articles and commentaries are published internationally to critical acclaim. Her most recent passion is a start-up with fellow authors at – the world’s first author-run portal for published writers. You can follow Bem on Twitter @BemLeHunte

Susan Warner

Susan Warner is the Head of Community Engagement at Mastercard, Strategic Communicator, CSR professional and founder of Girls4Tech, the signature STEM education platform which has reached more than 800,000 girls in 27 countries (so far). Experience in employee engagement, community relations, executive communications, internal social media, internal platform technology, sustainability, global volunteering and creating STEM curriculums that engage employees as role models. Strong people leader, collaborator and storyteller. Proud to serve as a global co-lead for the Adaptability business resource group to advance accessibility and inclusion for people with diverse abilities. You can follow Susan on Twitter @sswarner12

Edwina Dunn

Edwina Dunn is one of the most successful leaders in the data industry, with a career of delivering transformational business change, together with her long term partner, Clive Humby. Dunn & Humby revolutionised the world of retail and consumer goods when they pioneered Tesco Clubcard and other global loyalty programmes, eventually selling dunnhumby to Tesco in 2011. At this stage, the business had 1,500 employees across 25 countries and managed engagement strategies for 350 million customers including Kroger, Macy’s and Best Buy. Edwina is now a director of customer insight and technology business Starcount which works with global brands exploring the motivations and passions of consumers and citizens around sustainability. In 2015, Edwina launched The Female Lead, an educational foundation and campaign, celebrating the achievements of women and their inspiring stories; she has donated 18,000 books of The Female Lead: Women Who Shape Our World to schools and universities across the UK and USA. Following ground-breaking research into social media and mental health, a female leadership programme was launched in schools & colleges so that girls can discover role models and increase career aspirations and confidence. In October 2018, Edwina was appointed to the The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation; an advisory body set up by Government to investigate and advise on how we maximise the benefits of data-enabled technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI). In July 2019, Edwina was appointed to The Geo-Spatial Commission to provide expert, impartial advice to the government on geo-spatial data, including strategic priorities and value for money, to inform the UK’s Strategy. Edwina has four Honorary Doctorates, is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College Cambridge and Patron of the Market Research Society. In 2019 she was awarded an OBE. You can follow Edwina on Twitter @Edwina_Dunn and The Female Lead @the_female_lead

Series Eight, Episode Six Transcript

Julia:  Hello, my name is Julia Streets, and welcome to DiverCity Podcast, talking about equality, diversity, and inclusion in financial services. This episode is recorded in August 2020, and as everybody will know, particularly in the UK, August is a really key time. It is the time when students are expecting their GCSE and their A Level results, and this episode is hoping to inspire as we talk about, and as we focus on the really important lens of youth, as they think about their educational journeys, that ultimately we hope will lead them into a career in financial services.

In many of the DiverCity Podcast episodes, we think more about the career journeys of employees, we consider leadership behaviours to attract and retain talent, we explore organisational structures and look at diversity and inclusion through the eyes of various networks and diversity and inclusion communities. Today we think about youth, and before lockdown, I used to travel extensively and host many industry conferences, and during these trips, I have met fascinating people with interesting perspectives and initiatives, and it’s not been unknown for me to whip out my smartphone and microphone to capture quick insights and interviews.

Today we’re thinking about models of education. We’re thinking about inspiring young girls from non advantaged backgrounds into a career in technology in the US. We’re thinking about creative models of university education in Australia, and reaching teenage girls, helping them to think about their career journeys, and be inspired to achieve their life potential. Let’s start in Australia, and in November last year, I had the great pleasure to meet Bem Le Hunte. Aside from being a best-selling novelist, Bem Le Hunte is the founding director of the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation, a trans-disciplinary future-facing degree that teaches creativity across 25 different disciplines.

Ask anyone in the field of innovation and they’ll confirm that it is a truly multi-fascinated concept, and having interviewed many financial services leaders on many a stage around the world, many of them express concern that the graduates and students don’t always arrive at the workplace with a full set of skills and capabilities, nor indeed a holistic view, and you’ll appreciate that I couldn’t possibly let an opportunity like this slide, so I managed to steal some time with Bem at the conference to find out more.

Bem: I’m a creative practitioner, I’m a novelist, but one of the things I’ve done is I’ve taken my creative practise into education, into creating a future education and transforming the current educational system. I run a degree called the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation, I’m the founding Course Director, and this degree is at the University of Technology Sydney, and I run this future-facing degree that transcends disciplines and disciplinary boundaries, and it combines with 25 different disciplines from across UTS.

Julia: Do a lot of students come into the corporate world, or do they go off and be entrepreneurs? Do you have a common destination for them? Are you preparing them for a particular route?

Bem: We work very closely with Australia’s innovation ecosystem and we have within that around 1200 partners from over 600 organisations. A lot of our students work with these partners during their education, especially in their fourth and final year of this degree, once they’ve completed their core degree, be it in business or law or science or engineering or design, communication, and then they essentially go on these innovation internships, they work on an industry project, so they work as intrepreneurs, they also work as entrepreneurs and they experiment with startups, a lot of them graduate with startups.

Around 42% of our graduates end up working for our industry partners who’ve experienced what it’s like to work with a BCII student, and they employ them, or sometimes even the whole team because they like their thinking and they’re working on wicked challenges for that organisation, using methods that the organisation has never heard of before, or trialled, because often their mono-disciplinary methods like design thinking.

Julia: This is what really struck me when we were talking over dinner. We were at the awards dinner last night which was just a glorious affair, and you were talking about how organisations have very traditional paths, and what you’re coaching students to do and teaching them to do is to think through this multi-disciplinary mindset, and look at the world through many different lenses as well, but how do those worlds interact? What’s your experience of how mindsets are shifting?

Bem: I think that the current young mindset is so different from anything that we had previously. Young people today, in my degree certainly, they want to graduate and change the world as quickly as possible. This is a very different kind of graduate attitude. We also have research from, for example, the Foundation for Young Australians that suggests that these young people are going to be doing 17 different jobs across five different industries, that is a completely different career trajectory from what their parents did. We have to radicalise our understanding of what a career path looks like, and we also have to understand the expectations for change that this new generation of graduates has.

And their potential to create change as well, the ways that they’re being taught now that are very different from the ways previous generations have been taught, because we’ve had a transformation in education, just as we’re having new ways of working in organisations, we’re certainly looking at new ways of learning and teaching in our universities.

Julia: How are people thinking about recruiting that type of talent into their organisation? What recommendations would you give corporates when they’re trying to attract the talent of those thinking differently and wants to change the world?

Bem: Well if you want to change the world, you have to position your organisation in a very authentic way as an organisation with purpose, because these young people want to have an impact and they want to have an impact quickly. Of course there has to be an element of modesty there, and often they are slowed down, but what we’re finding when we’re speaking to our graduates who come back, and they all do, because the degree that we run is known for being like the club that nobody wants to leave, and they all come back and they play in our space.

Julia: That says quite a lot actually.

Bem: They come back and they teach out first years and they come back as industry partners presenting wicked challenges for the students who are in the years below them, and they want something so different, and yet they’re all commenting that within university context, they were able to expand. They had this beautiful expansive thinking, they were given freedom, they were given the capability to think different, to think broadly. They go into organisations, often they’ll go into you know, top four, five consultancy firms.

They go through five interviews, and we’ve had students say, “Oh well at the fifth stage it was really easy, I was asked to solve a problem and I did it really quickly because we did it as a team and I had all these methods up my sleeve because I’ve been doing that since year one of my degree.” Whereas the other students were floundering a little because they didn’t have that sort of broad thinking. But then they get exposed to all of these different creative methods, they have a methods arena, you know, 100-odd methods at a time, taught from across the disciplines for looking at problems.

They have complexity methods, how to look at the complex world, and complexity theory, how do we look at this challenging world in which our problems are all connected? And they have a lot of future thinking scenarios, and they have critical and creative thinking skills, and they join even an innovation consultancy and they’re taught to use one method that that consultancy might privilege. It might be a patented variation of design thinking which is essentially mono-disciplinary, not the trans-disciplinary outlook and mindset and heartset that they’ve been playing with.

So there is this kind of reductionism. The world expands when you’re in university, and it has to reduce when you go out into the world, because in many ways, certainly our students, they’re attuned to complexity, and the complex environments in which problems are situated, and the opposite to complexity is not simplicity as a wonderful colleague of ours Nora Bateson says, it’s reductionism. How do you prevent that kind of reductionism taking place?

Julia: And yet all the leaders I talk to, you know, we talk about the world of digitalisation and transformation and change and data and AI and everyone says you know, “The world is inherently so much more complex so we need fresh ideas.” And what you’re saying is that fresh ideas are there and they’re desperate to come and solve them. Those organisations that are adapting well, what do they particularly focus on that others could think about?

Bem: I think empowering the youngest graduate to be able to explore their potential very early on. I think giving them responsibilities early on is a very good idea, and I don’t know a lot of organisations are doing mentor-mentee reversals, like reverse mentorship could be a nice thing to look at.

Julia: I hear a lot of people are thinking about that very seriously actually for that reason.

Bem: Yes, I learn so much from my students. What’s wonderful about doing a trans-disciplinary degree is that all the staff, we do team teaching, we all learn from each other and it’s a beautiful place to be, this place where everyone’s a learner.

Julia: Also part of the conversation as well, attracting the talent coming in the first place, the second part is inspiring them to stay, and the journey to leadership as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you embed a leadership mentality into your students today, and also what organisations are doing to help them go through the leadership journey?

Bem: I’m pretty certain that I’m educating future leaders, we all are, certainly in the context where I find myself today. They are future leaders and future change-makers. One of the things we teach them is, they do a subject in leadership, they do leading for innovation, a subject in their third year. We teach them a whole stack of things, but one of the things that we teach them, that might be relevant in regards to your question, is around Ron Heifetz leadership framework for example. Ron Heifetz is a leadership expert at Harvard.

One of the things he said that struck me as really relevant, certainly in the student context, is that leadership is not a position, it’s an activity. If we subvert the whole idea of leadership being something that you get to when you’re a little grey and experienced, and make it something that you can do right now, as a case in point in the classroom, and you can create the context for it as you are a student, then it becomes a really powerful lesson for students in where they could be, and how they can lead with authenticity and integrity, and with creative vision, and I think that there is a lot of fear around creative leaders, but I think that this generation coming up could subvert that kind of fear.

Julia: Well that’s a very exciting prospect, it has to be said, as we are working in the field of technology in particular, and it’s been wonderful to catch you. Thank you so much. I do know how busy you are, and to have caught you at the Women in Payments Symposium has been wonderful. Bem, thank you.

Bem: Thank you.

Julia: As I think about all the people I’ve interviewed on stages and on the podcast, we talk constantly about how do we inspire more girls into the world of financial services and technology, and one angle that comes up time and time again, is to go back into the schools to spend time with girls, explaining to them that the world of technology isn’t reserved for boys, but actually there are incredibly successful and inspiring career paths ahead, whether it’s the world of fraud detection, cybersecurity, algorithmic engineering, you name it, it’s all laid out there.

Right now I’m standing in Georgetown University, in the heart of Washington DC, I’m here to host the Women in Payments Conference, and while I was here, Mastercard invited me in to witness their Girls4Tech programme. I’m standing in the heart of the business school, watching 25 to 30 inspiring young technologists talking to young girls from the local area, and they’re talking about all manner of things, digital algorithms, fraud detection, and they’re doing it in the most interactive way, you can probably hear the sounds in the background as these young girls are really getting stuck in.

What’s most inspiring is of course they’re being tutored by young women who have chosen a career in STEM themselves, and we talk about if you can see it, you can be it, well this is live in action today. I was really keen to find out more. I wanted to know what inspired these programmes, and then also what impact they’ve been having. So I was delighted to catch up with Susan Warner, who’s the vice president of community engagement at Mastercard.

How does it all begin?

Susan: We had the idea for Girls4Tech in 2013, we really wanted to engage our employees in the various subjects of Mastercard. Everyone thinks we’re a credit card company; we’re actually algorithms, fraud detection, cryptology, big data, digital convergence, and of course, a super fast network. If that’s not STEM, I don’t know what is. We really wanted to create a programme where our employees could get out into the community and serve as role models and mentors in payments technology.

Julia: Where did the idea come from?

Susan: In my previous career I ran a global literacy programme for Time Warner and then created two STEM programmes for a technology company, when I came to Mastercard I really wanted to take similar programmes, but make it bigger, better, and global.

Julia: The potential is endless. Where do you begin?

Susan: One girl at a time, that’s what’s really important, is making an impact and showcasing that there’s all kinds of STEM careers out there, and it takes all kinds of skills to pursue a STEM career.

Julia: As I look around the room, so you’ve got young female employees from Mastercard, and you’ve also got students from Georgetown as well, what are we seeing today?

Susan: Today we are all about fraud detection, cryptology, algorithms, big data, it’s hands-on activities that girls are cracking code, they’re listening for potential fraud, they’re solving a school problem using data, they’re learning about binary code and digital convergence, this is what’s happening. Very hands-on, very inquiry-based. We want the girls really discovering this for themselves.

Julia: Which is enormously inspiring, you can feel the energy in the room. There’s one question which I keep coming back to, which is in the world of fintech, and when I worked with entrepreneurs, there’s always this question of scale, how do you scale a programme? You’ve got 30 girls here today, but I know you’ve got huge ambitions to take this even bigger. Tell us about that.

Susan: We’ve reached over half a million girls in 27 countries, but to us it’s about impact. We’ve developed deeper dives, all the girls for some reason leave our programme saying they want to be a fraud detective or a cryptologist, so we’ve just developed and launched a new cybersecurity and AI programme, we have a 20 week coding programme, and we also have a high school or secondary school outside the US, more about product ideation, so that’s a 2.0. That’s impact, we want them coming back again and again, really being exposed to payments technology, but we also scale.

How we do that is we create a concepts classroom curricula based off of the concept of Girls4Tech and a partner like Scholastic can take those concepts, that classroom curriculum, and deploy it throughout all US schools, and we have non-profit partners throughout the world.

Julia: Throughout the world, I mean the girls are wearing the-shirts now that have what, 27 countries on them? It’s amazing.

Susan: 27 countries. There’s a few more coming.

Julia: Fantastic. You can hear the excitement in the background.

Susan: What’s really exciting to me is that our employees have really taken to this programme. We can’t keep up with the requests that we have, and that’s a great place to be.

Julia: That’s fantastic. The program’s been running now for six years I understand, are you seeing some girls come through into the workplace?

Susan: I’ll tell you one story, it’s my favourite story. Beatrice came to our coding programme six years ago, kicking and screaming, her mother made her do it, she didn’t want to learn how to code. Today she is in ROTC, she’s majoring in cryptological warfare, she’s at a top university in the US, and she’s going to be an intern at Mastercard this summer.

Julia: Amazing.

Susan: We’re really excited, because we’re just going to start to hear these stories, and we hope we’ve been an inspiration somehow, some way.

Julia: It just feels like the start doesn’t it? It’s been such a joy being here to witness it in progress, it’s incredible. Susan, thank you so much.

Susan: You’re welcome.

Julia: Since lockdown, Susan told me that in February this year they took the tough but right decision to cancel all Girls4Tech programming across the world, but never idle, they quickly pivoted to create, an online site delivering STEM activities for parents and educators to share with their children and students. Susan and her team have posted these activities in seven languages so far, and continue to add content every single week, and in the interview, you will have heard Susan mention their US partner, Scholastic, and have successfully reached more than 150,00 girls in a mere three months.

Summer camps have gone online, and right now Susan and her team are creating virtual interactive Girls4Tech sessions, offering activities to Mastercard’s employees’ children over the summer, as well as working with several of their partner organisations. Our third and final interview today features the work of Edwina Dunn OBE, arguably one of the most successful leaders in the data industry, with a career of delivering transformational business change.

Along with her partner, Clive Humby, Edwina revolutionised the world of retail and consumer goods, when they pioneered Tesco Clubcard, and other global loyalty programmes. When she sold the business to Tesco, it had some 1500 employees across 25 different countries, and managed engagement strategies for 350 million customers like you and me. My fascination for innovation and data aside, I was particularly interested to read about a business that Edwina launched in 2015, called The Female Lead. The Female Lead is an educational foundation and a campaign celebrating the achievements of women and their inspiring stories.

Following ground-breaking research into social media and mental health, a female leadership programme was launched in schools and colleges, so that girls can find role models and increase their career aspirations and their confidence, and I was delighted to spend some time with Edwina during lockdown to find out more.

Edwina, wonderful to have you on the show, thank you so much for joining us. What are you focused on right now?

Edwina: My real passion is The Female Lead, we produced a book, Volume One, with 60 amazing women and we showcase these to show girls just all the things that can be achieved by women living in the world, shaping our world today. That’s been hugely successful, it’s in 18,000 schools, we have live Female Lead societies happening everywhere, and we’ve run some interventions, which we’ll talk about later, but my new campaign is to focus now on working women, we’re currently doing research during lockdown, to find out what are the challenges women face at work, and we’re going to use these to frame the questions to ask 60 more women, and we’re going to be bringing out Volume Two.

I’m hoping that some of your listeners in the city will get excited about that and want to be ahead of the curve on what matters most to women today, and get involved and help us.

Julia: There are so many conversations right now about, you know, is this good for women? Is this a terrible time for women? We’ll be unpacking that for sure as we go through the conversation. That’s fantastic, and I can’t believe that’s 60 women, 18,000 school girls are reading, and as we know on the podcast of course if you can see it, you can be it, and the power of role models is really important. I’d love to explore what impact are you finding that this has?

Edwina: Well you know the great thing is that the schools, the girls, are talking to us, so to the teachers and parents, so they will send us examples of what they’re talking about, and show us how they’re relating to the stories. What we find is not that one woman is above all others in who they aspire to be, but that they can actually take elements from multiple women and learn from how they’ve navigated some difficult things. When we started we thought this was all going to be about young girls, what surprised us is we’ve engaged now with girls at colleges and universities and we’ve recently done some work with King’s College with the MBA class, and we’ve had feedback from them, what they’ve basically said was they did a case study, they loved it, and it made them think not just about the world that they’re moving into, but their own lives and their own stories, and they really enjoyed it.

I see that as really tangible evidence that we’re relating to girls, young women, and as I mentioned, we’re now looking at older women and the challenges they face. They tell us, is the short answer.

Julia: When you talk about case studies, could you bring that to life a little, is that a business scenario? A life scenario? What sort of case studies are they talking through?

Edwina: They’re looking at women that they admire, so you know, everyone from Michaela DePrince, who you know, was an orphan in Sierra Leone, and has become a prima ballerina with the Dutch National Company, through to Christiane Amanpour, to Meryl Streep, to a New York firefighter, and I think girls are inspired, for the first time, not from people like the wonderful Marie Curie, and Ada Lovelace, who are old and long dead, but from women who are alive and thriving and who they think, “Well, if she can do it, I can do it.” Because, also they want to see women who look like them, who they can relate to.

I think that’s why we’ve been really, really focused on young, old, diverse, multiple definitions of fulfilment, not just money and power.

Julia: That’s incredibly important isn’t it? It’s that classic adage you know, if you can see it, you can be it, and we hear this time and time and time again, which is, from people on stages and on pages actually, that rhymes quite neatly actually, I should use that more often. On stages and on pages that shows actually this could be my pathway, and there’s something about that, also about overcoming adversity as well and having the resilience, and you mentioned I think about mental health and the considerations around that as well.

You’re commissioning some research now called Disrupting the Feed, love to hear a bit more about that as well.

Edwina: Well Disrupt Your Feed was research that we conducted with Dr. Terri Apter, Cambridge University professor of psychology and author, and we interviewed girls between 14 and 17 years old, we looked at their consumption of social media before and after this intervention that we call Disrupt Your Feed, and we found quite shockingly, that many of these girls, some in very privileged schools, were consuming as much as six hours social media per day, and it was leaving them with a very, very unpleasant feeling and they were unanimous in this respect.

It made them feel less, it made them feel anxious, and it was a solid diet. Some of them call it the cringe binge, because they know it’s bad for them, but they still binge on it, and what we suggested, instead of saying, “Don’t do it. Don’t consume the Kardashians or Love Island,” we basically said mix it up, and try three or four new female role models, because a lot of them were following only males, and so we said try three or four, and then we went back nine months later and interviewed them, and found that things had changed significantly.

Without exception, they basically said they felt better, they felt happier, they could see their way forward in their career because they’d actually been looking at women who were doing some of the things that they were really interested in. This very small intervention was making a big difference.

Julia: Well first of all, the thing that strikes me is in this day and age, six hours a day is an enormous amount of time, but also thinking about the different sources, I mean everybody I talk to on the podcast and also in my hosting life will say, it’s incredibly important to read and to find channels of intelligence, and one thing I always think about with social media is it has such enormous potential, that actually if you could follow the right people who will challenge your thinking. How wonderful to be looking at it, but be looking at it with such a critical eye, and creating interventions that will make people ultimately more rounded and also better, happier human beings as well, which is important.

Edwina: The campaign we then took out to 150 social influencers, who then shared it far and wide, and we had something like 330 million impressions from this campaign, all these influencers saying, “Wow, simple idea, why didn’t anybody think of it before? Seems to work.” And actually that is what propelled us forward. It got shared not by us, but by women who were also trying to tackle this in different ways, and facing different challenges. Phenomenally successful, and you know, we keep in contact with some of the young girls, one of them has gone on to Oxford to study her subject, and she said the intervention came at a time in her life where she wasn’t believing in her capability, and subsequently that belief propelled her forward.

It’s those kinds of things that make you realise it’s worthwhile, and we can make a difference, even with small steps.

Julia: There’s an argument for, “When I’ve had it all laid out in front of me, it’ll be the perfect journey.” You know, it’s going to be a perfect career, I’m going to have the perfect life. We all know only too well that that’s not often the case, and there’s an element of motivation and resilience and self-motivation that comes into play with all of that, and I know that’s something you’ve been thinking about as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts and insights.

Edwina: Yes I think quite often motivation can come from a really dark, unhappy place. I was fortunate enough in working with Disney, to sit on a panel with the amazing Oprah Winfrey, and she explained this really, really eloquently, she said that part of the reason she’d become so successful, was that she’d been underestimated by everyone around her, including the studios. Her working life, they never believed she’d build the audience she did, and she tells this wonderful story where she says, “And thank God they didn’t, because actually I got half the studio and that’s why I’m rich and successful today.” So being underestimated is not always a bad thing.

Being fired, as I was, because I’d married my husband and he resigned, I thought very unfair, was a fantastic motivator for me to build my own business. So good things come from bad places.

Julia: That’s very inspiring, and I can just imagine those young girls in schools, and also all the way through their academic or indeed, non-academic life as well, because academia isn’t for everybody. These kinds of stories and these kinds of nuggets really truly inspire. Wonderful. How can listeners get involved? How can listeners support you?

Edwina: The research that we’re doing now is for working women, so that’s being conducted during lockdown, and we’re talking to about 80 women from right across every industry, from pharmaceutical to the music industry, to financial services and the health sector, and the idea being that we want to create a bridge, not just for those women, but for girls who are moving into working lives, to understand what kind of problems they’re going to face, and we want to find the questions that are going to help them navigate that. This is a very honest, Independent piece of research, very substantial, again with Dr. Terri Apter, which will really help us identify those issues, and we hope to then create some interventions.

One of the things that we’ll be doing is not only producing this new book and interviewing new women, but we will also be putting onto our website a research panel that we hope millions of people will get involved with, and answer some questions on their life and what are the pillars that matter most in their life, so that we can start to present these, not just to businesses, but to government as a way of helping shape bigger interventions that are going to help them navigate a longer, easier, more successful career path.

Julia: You talk about the research panel, when will that be available and how can people sort of participate in that and get involved on the website?

Edwina: Well the research is being conducted as we speak, it will be finished towards the end of August, and then through September, October, we’ll be compiling all of that research, and we’ll be launching the findings in November, and then from there we’ll be designing the questionnaire that we’re going to embed in our website, so that at the beginning of next year, 2021, we are going to be inviting our now, thankfully, millions of followers.

I think we might then have nearly a million followers on LinkedIn alone, we’re going to invite them all to come onto the website and fill in very minimal questions on what they believe, what matters in their life, so that this becomes, true to my background and my science, an evidence-based platform that we can then use to petition and help both businesses, but governments too, to actually start to shape interventions that are going to unlock the economic power of women in the workplace, not just now, but as we recover and into the future.

Julia: Edwina this is so inspiring, because every time we talk to people we know that data matters, and so the fact that you’re not only galvanising people to participate in the data, asking really key questions that matter right now, I think of so many panels that I’ve been hosting over the last month or two, were just thinking about the future of work and the future of talent and the way that organisations engage with their employees.

This is so timely, so we’ll support you in every which way we can, we’ll let people know how they can participate, and we’d also love to hear about the findings as well to talk about that. 

As you look ahead, can I ask you what you’re most hopeful about? What are you really excited about at the moment?

Edwina: Well for me this is not just how we help women at work, but how girls now can start to relate to what lies ahead for them. The truth is no matter what is said, it is still harder for a woman to be a high-achiever in whatever her role and ambition, and so to break that down to make it more visible, to make it more obvious, to help her to ask the questions that we know everybody asks, which is, “Can I have a child? Should I have a child? How is it going to affect my career? Does it matter? How much money do I need to earn before I can do that? Should I be doing my own pension? Should I have investments?” These are all the conversations we know women want to ask, but don’t yet feel socially strong enough, or workforce strong enough to ask, we want to bring those to the fore, and then we want to give this new book back to the schools, so that we’re creating the pipeline of talent for the future, that’s savvy.

We want boys to be savvy as well as girls, so we do have a fairer society.

Julia: Edwina, it’s really inspiring work. It’s been wonderful to have you on the show and to hear your insights and your really data-critical thinking that lies at the heart of everything that then of course reveals itself in terms of showcasing and role modelling and inspiring young girls and also women throughout their entire career. It’s been a joy to have you on, thank you so much.I hope you agree these were three fascinating interviews and insights from around the world, and my thanks to Bem, Susan, and Edwina for taking the time to explain their initiatives and their impact, and this brings to the end series eight of DiverCity Podcast as we take a break for the summer. I’d like to take a moment to thank all our guests who have joined me on these episodes, and as always, that you to all our listeners and supporters.

Right now it is so important that diversity and inclusion remains high on the agenda, because as we all know, and the data very clearly proves, diversity delivers better performance. My name is Julia Streets, and as always, thank you for listening to DiverCity Podcast.

Kieron: This episode of the DiverCity Podcast was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Julia Streets Productions. You can find out more about the guests on this week’s show on our website, Whilst you are there, you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates.

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