Client Stories

Helping the Financial Times achieve its gender parity goals

Leading international newspaper, The Financial Times (FT) reports daily about business and economic current affairs. So it understands, better than most, that more diverse organisations make better decisions, better meet their customer needs and perform better. It is perhaps unsurprising then, that the FT would want to create a diverse and inclusive workplace but what is perhaps surprising (and encouraging) is its goal to achieve gender parity across its leadership by 2022.

Professional Voice and Executive Coach, Susan Room, with her fifth intake of high-potential FT women for ‘Make Your Mark with Susan Room®’.

Increasing impact

Susan was introduced to the FT in 2017 by the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama where she studied voice. At that time, the FT was putting in place a range of diversity initiatives to deliver its vision – including to support, retain, and develop female executives. Initially they asked Susan to deliver a couple of stand-alone workshops to help FT managers ‘increase impact’ and enhance their ‘assertiveness and credibility’. Both workshops were very well received and Susan’s been working with the FT ever since.

“From the outset there’s been genuine buy-in from the very top to move the dial on gender parity – that’s been critical to the success of my work with the FT.”

Susan Room

Developing confidence, presence and communication

Working collaboratively and iteratively with the FT’s L&D team Susan has designed and now delivers a variety of programmes, workshops, talks and 121 coaching sessions predominantely for women – both from the editorial and non-editorial side of their business in London, continental Europe, New York and Asia. 

The mainstay of her work with them is a bespoke version of her 12-hour Make Your Mark with Susan Room® programme, which practically helps women develop their confidence, presence and communication skills. 

To reflect the FT’s creative culture, Susan adapted the Make Your Mark programme to include time for participants to reflect on and then perform what they have learnt to cement that learning.

“What I love about working with the FT is their commitment to inclusion, how we collaborate to support participants through the programme and, being a creative industry, their sense of fun."

Susan Room

Make Your Mark with Susan Room® has been a great success, with feedback consistently above 95%. 

The programme has been run six times, with 12 women nominated by the FT’s senior management team to participate each time. Two cohorts now run each year (Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter) and, when the sixth cohort launches in September 2020, more than 100 women will have completed the programme, strengthening the FT’s talent pipeline in the process. 

This year, to respond to the challenges of coronavirus, the programme is being adapted yet again, this time so that it can be delivered virtually. Susan concludes: “It’s a huge privilege to continue to evolve my programmes with the FT and work with such intelligent and creative people.”

“So while performance isn’t for every organisation, when it fits with a company’s culture it can be a great way to bring learning to life, have fun with it and make it personal and memorable for those involved.”

Susan Room

2020 - three years on, this time delivering new virtual workshops...

2017 - the year Susan began working with the FT...

‘I chair a group at the Financial Times called FT Women UK and we held our 3rd event today with a talk about making your mark. We had 70+ attendees and fantastic feedback! We learnt how to manage your inner critic, exercises to cope with stress, and how to use your voice to make an impact. A huge thanks to #FT for giving us these development opportunities, to @SusanRoom for delivering such a useful workshop, and most importantly, to the committee who make these events happen!’

- Angelique Vu, C-chair at FT Women UK reflecting on Susan’s talk on social media


What participants say

“Susan. I was thinking of you recently when forced into presenting at a 2-day hackathon in front of FT execs. All my team members pulled out so I had no choice! I drew on so many of your coaching tips we spoke about back in July and guess what, my proposal was awarded a runner-up prize! I don't think I would have even attended the hackathon prior to your coaching!”

– An FT editor who attended Make Your Mark with Susan Room®

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