Helping Financial Times achieve its gender parity goals
Leading international newspaper, 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 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®’.
Susan was introduced to FT in 2017 by the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama where she studied voice. At that time, 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 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 FT.”
Developing confidence, presence and communication
Working collaboratively and iteratively with 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 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 FT is their commitment to inclusion, how we collaborate to support participants through the programme and, being a creative industry, their sense of fun."
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 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 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 FT and work with such intelligent and creative people.”
In March 2020, Susan was interviewed for Amy Bell's Special Report for FT Women in Business "How to be more confident in front of colleagues." Read the full article here.
“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.”
2020 - three years on, this time delivering new virtual workshops...
2017 - the year Susan began working with FT...
‘I chair a group at 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