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First female CEO of Lloyd’s of London Dame Inga Beale shares her best advice for women in the workplace

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by Shayna Sappington
08th Oct 2021
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First female CEO of Lloyd’s of London Dame Inga Beale shares her best advice for women in the workplace

Businesswoman Dame Inga Beale shares a preview of her keynote address at this year's IMAGE Business Summit, discussing how to cultivate a more inclusive business, barriers she’s overcome as a woman in leadership and her best advice for women in the workplace.

We are beyond excited to welcome Dame Inga Beale as a keynote speaker at the virtual IMAGE Business Summit

With over three decades of experience, the British businesswoman was the first ever female CEO of Lloyd’s of London. Prior to that, Inga held a variety of international leadership positions for GE Insurance Solutions, before becoming Group CEO of Swiss reinsurer Converium. 

In her special address, Inga will draw on her vast experience and knowledge and discuss what it means to lead cultural change and steer a company through a technological transition without losing its core character. Moreover, she will also tackle breaking glass ceilings and building inclusive environments within the workplace.

Inclusion and diversity

Among many other achievements, Inga was awarded a Damehood for her influential work in driving the inclusion agenda for women and the LGBT community – a recognition that came after years of speaking out and driving change.

At employee town halls, I started talking about the lack of women in senior leadership roles,” explains Inga. “I started talking about looking out at a sea of white faces. I started using words like gay, lesbian and bisexual. Using words that had traditionally been ‘taboo’ and opened up conversations that had never occurred before.

“We went on to launch the Dive In Festival – a real celebration of diversity and inclusion for the entire insurance sector. The first one took place in 2015 over several days when we held all sorts of different types of events aimed at driving home the importance of diversity and inclusion and highlighting the benefits to businesses. In 2021, it was in its seventh year and has gone way beyond London and now takes place in about 40 countries with more than 30 thousand people participating.”

Barriers facing women in leadership

As the first ever female CEO of Lloyd’s of London, Inga faced her fair share of challenges which taught her how to remain resilient and build integral support networks.

“Criticism comes at women leaders from more angles than men – there is now data showing that microaggressions in the workplace are higher against women than men,” notes Inga. 

“I have taken on several CEO roles in my life and some organisations have required a turnaround or a huge transformation. To have people focus on your leadership skills, your experience and the great things you have achieved, rather than the way you look or a small mistake you have made, would have made it much easier. 

“The resilience required was immense and can be exhausting at times. Along the way I got a lot of my strength and support not only from my family but also from women’s networks – a source of inspirational energy to keep going.”

Cultivating an inclusive environment

Thankfully, because of leaders like Inga, change is coming to the business world. Most companies are trying to cultivate a more inclusive environment, a process which should start with fool-proofing communication, says Inga.

“The golden rule is to keep communicating – 1. Communicate the business case; 2. Communicate it’s the right thing to do; 3. Communicate that you mean it. 

“Other things are to update your policies to ensure you provide a flexible inclusive workplace; put in place targets and scorecards and report against them; provide training for your workforce and up-skill managers in particular in how to build and manage diverse teams; start discussing the issues and get the difficult topics out on the table; and most importantly, celebrate diversity.”

Inga’s advice for women climbing the corporate ladder

For women who want to continue to climb the corporate ladder, Inga recommends that they adopt the PIE model.

“The PIE model is one that I totally buy into. It stands for Performance, Image and Exposure. These are the three elements that are essential for your career development. 

“In other words, we know that to progress we must ‘Perform’ – you have to be good at what you do and deliver results.  There’s no getting away from that and most organisations and employees are very focused on that and have a performance system. 

“There’s also the ‘I’ – the ‘Image’ element to consider. This is how others perceive you, your brand and how you come across in business situations. The final letter – ‘E’ – is the exposure piece which is equally important for your career progression – getting exposure to the right people and the right situations in the organisation and beyond in the wider industry will be invaluable.”

And what advice does Inga wish someone would’ve told her at the start of your career? “Believe in your own ability – I was so under confident that I even said ‘no’ to the first promotion I was offered.”

To hear more nuggets of wisdom from Dame Inga Beale, register for the IMAGE Business Summit today, taking place on October 20 and 21.

Register Now

WHEN: Wednesday, October 20 and Thursday, October 21

WHERE: From the comfort and convenience of your own home or office

HOW TO ACCESS: General Admission Tickets are €75. Register below and receive an email with the virtual access link just before the event on October 20.

Did you know that IMAGE Business Club members receive COMPLIMENTARY access to the IMAGE Business Summit as part of their membership? Join the club for €246 now to claim your complimentary ticket!
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IMAGE Business Club members, claim your complimentary ticket HERE!

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