Philippa Thomas Online

Life and leadership coaching

What questions do “Women at the Top” ask? #FTWomen

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Today after work I dropped into the Financial Times “Women at the Top” conference – held at a smart London hotel.  There was a ballroom filled with 250 women –  and an agenda that rolled swiftly through stories about leadership, recruitment, tech, equal pay and more.  You may be aware we’re having our own lively debate at the BBC about equal pay for equal work, and how to shake up our culture to make it truly inclusive.  Here are a few disparate quotes that popped out at me from the speakers I heard today.


We’re here to fix the system not the women.

I tell my new female staff to play to win rather than play by the rules.  Arm yourselves with facts and go have the (pay) conversation.

It’s not just about pay. It’s about career progression.


The most critical thing for me has been having a series of sponsors who believed in me more than I did.  Ask yourself today, who are you sponsoring? Who are you taking a chance on?

Build your brand by making four things clear:  What am I good at? What are my values?
How do I work?  And what can I  do for you?


Editing is key. Not simplifying but making it simpler, smarter, shorter.

We know the men at the top tend to look for leaders who look like them (says one exec).

We found there is no “success bias” but there is an “application bias” (says another).
I have had so many women say “you know what, I’m good on the money, I’m happy”.  I have my men in here every three months saying “I’m great, when can I expect my next bump?” They come back again and again. It wears a manager down. (This from a successful female tech CEO).


We need to give middle school girls real concrete examples of what is available to them. Get them young!


I never wanted to outsource my life in order to achieve my career goals.

I’ve been rethinking. I need to do less and achieve more


Nothing happens without energy – put on your oxygen mask before you help others


Always say “Yes!”


Author: philippathomas

I've been a BBC newswoman for 30 years: reporting from around the world. Currently to be seen anchoring BBC World News TV. Main interests - politics, psychology, reading, trekking, and all things American. I began this personal blog as a 2011 Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard. You can also find me talking daily news on Twitter at @PhilippaBBC, coaching @positivecoachi3, and life & travel on Instagram at @philippanews. Thanks for reading!

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