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Purpose & ESG Posted 22 Mar 2021

A champion for equality: Q&A with Baroness Mary Goudie

Baroness Mary Goudie is a member of the British House of Lords and is a passionate gender equality and diversity campaigner. Mary is a founding member of 30% Club, a campaign launched in 2010 to ensure diversity and inclusion on boards and in senior management roles across companies. Mary maintains her position on the UK’s steering committee. The 30% Club has since evolved to become a global campaign.

Baroness Mary Goudie speaking engagement 30 club

Mary is also a leading member of Vital Voices, which provides social and political training programmes for future leaders of businesses. She’s a prominent campaigner on international issues and chairs the UN Women Leaders’ Council to Fight Human Trafficking.

In this Q&A we find out why the 30% Club is such an important campaign and how it has evolved; Mary’s views on gender equality and diversity and what are her hopes for the future.

How did you become involved with 30% Club?

I have known Baroness Helena Morrissey for many years. We were on a panel for Goldman Sachs re Training Floor.

We met up a number times bringing together both women and men. We realised that to get the 30% Club off the ground, we would need both women and men collaborating together. We established the 30% Club as a campaign, not as an NGO.

What is your proudest achievement from your work with 30% Club?

I think that the pride comes not in a moment, but over time seeing the recognition of our campaign around the world, and seeing the number of women leaders climb. Also our global recognition; being a proud member of the UN Women and UN Global Impact.

Was your campaign challenged by the pandemic in 2020? And going into 2021 what are your hopes for the 30% Club?

The pandemic has been challenging. We are continuing to meet virtually, both in UK and globally to continue our efforts. We have also taken a look at the serious effects that the pandemic has had on women.

30% Club is now an international campaign. How did you grow your reach and what are your ambitions there?

We decided that we would set up International Chapters in those countries that are members of G7 and G20, as those are countries poised to lobby their governments. We have 11 international chapters, and are just now in the cusp of launching Mexico and Columbia. All of our chapters recognise and adhere to the policies of the UK chapter, and have a number of global corporate members.

Gender Pay Gap reporting has been in the shadows of Covid-19 – how do you feel about that? And how can champions of the cause make sure it’s back on the agenda for 2021?

I feel extremely disappointed in the government and ministers lack of focus on Gender Pay Gap reporting.

Throughout the pandemic, this issue has been quietly pushed to the back burner.

The way to bring this forward is to bring attention back to the issue, across the political divide, and not just with corporations but also with governments.

I am happy with our achievements, but there is a long way to go.

Not only with FTSE, but with all boards, both public and private, and non-profit sector.

You campaigned for a long time on gender representation on boards – are you happy with the success of campaign? What are your targets?

During the past year, the Black Lives Matter movement came into focus. The 30% Club recognised that there is no room in the workplace for racism. As we decided on our UK targets for the next 3 years, we set goals and made clear our commitment to ethnic diversity. Our inclusive working group is taking a deep dive into these issues and will be sharing findings in the next 6 months.

Do you have any thoughts on the ethnicity pay gap? Do you think steps are being taken to remedy the ethnicity pay gap quickly enough?

The 30% Club takes very strong views on the ethnicity pay gap.

It needs to be reported in all reporting.

On other areas of interest – you are on the Advisory Board for Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security: GIWPS, and involved with Vital Voices, what campaigns are you involved with and how have they made a difference?

I have been working with Vital Voices since its inception. Vital Voices provides key training programs for future leaders and SME’s. Vital Voices has literally given a voice to underrepresented women around the world working with over 180 countries.

Georgetown’s main mission is that women are crucial to sustaining peace. The goal is to build an evidence-based case for a focus on women, peace and security around the globe.

A lot has happened to international aid in this last year, including a cut to the UK’s contribution which you’ve been critical of. What is your message to the G7 economies when it comes to humanitarian aid?

This cut by Great Britain is an absolute disgrace, and it is breaking the law. It is an Act of Parliament that 0.7% should be spent on International Aid. There has not been a vote in Parliament. This funding is vital to the future of the world. I call on the G7 to not cut aid at this time.

In the same respect, given the new political leadership in the US, what are your hopes for the Biden administration in respect of taking a more proactive role on such matters as international aid and development?

The damage done by the Trump administration will take a number of years to repair.

The new administration can encourage countries around the world through their leadership to understand and respect aid, climate, and health, both in the US and abroad.

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Listen to our podcast with Baroness Mary Goudie, Nina Goswami - Creative Diversity Lead, BBC and Lansons Chair and Co-founder Clare Parsons discussing International Women's Day, and the issues around gender equality and diversity.

Find out more about Baroness Mary Goudie.

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