Ben & Co – The Women’s Index – Having it all, Redefined

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Published in Issue 20 - Women & Ideas - Ben & Co


I had a presentation this morning and I was the only woman in the room, and the only woman presenting. Never before has there been more investment and care – from men and women – to bring genuine diversification into financial organisations, but I don’t think we’re having the right public discussion, which is how to get women running more profit and loss businesses with a natural evolution into board positions.

The level reporting to my direct reports actually has more senior women than men, so I’m hoping that, in the next few years, we have a natural evolution, a genuine diversification that is driven by people’s underlying core capabilities.

At OneVue, we have full pay transparency from the management all the way through, and we have as many men who have flexibility in the days that they work as we do women.

I don’t really talk about gender and diversity, I talk about inclusion, and we make sure that our work environment makes people feel included. We’ve stopped the ‘Hey, Robbo’, type communications and we call people by their names.

The first people who came to see me when we stopped that kind of language were men who hated their nicknames. If inclusion doesn’t show up in day-to-day behaviour and culture, the big-ticket items do not matter.

People don’t labour for this thing called a balanced life – it’s not really a balanced life, it’s an integrated life. You integrate the things that are important to you into your life, and I can honestly say I’m very happy with mine. It’s flat-out and I’m juggling a lot of things, but I manage this in a way that I feel I’m doing the best that I can in the specific areas that make me happy – work, health, all of it.

What most people need is more time – and it’s not whether you’re there or not, it’s whether you’re present or not.

I ask myself what I can delegate so that I can free up my time to spend on the things that I value. One of the most important people in my life is my ironing man. I have a cleaner who comes once every two weeks and I get my groceries delivered. You can have it all, I really believe that you can. You just can’t do it all.

There are things I know I can’t do but they’re not about gender. I accepted early on that I can’t do everything and I can’t be good at everything, so I’ve never in any way felt limited. I don’t think family and career is an either/or situation. Everybody who is in a relationship knows that it is not 50/50 all the time. Sometimes it’s 90/10, sometimes it’s 10/90. I took a very long-term view of that, which is, what do I need to do to do both to the best of my ability? Am I doing my job? Tick. Do my family feel loved and cared for? Hopefully, tick. That’s good enough.

I make mistakes all the time. When you’re pushing boundaries, or juggling lots of things, you need resilience – and the key to that resilience is the ability to forgive yourself and move on. I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for happy.

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