Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson | techUK

Sarah Atkinson

An experienced leader and former news journalist, Sarah Atkinson has over 20 years of experience in multinational organisations including Cisco, 3Com and most recently spent ten years as Vice President, Communications & Social Responsibility, EMEA at CA Technologies.

A member of the company’s leadership team, she also led the company’s Diversity & Inclusion strategy in EMEA - moving the gender balance from 32% women - 68% men to 36% women to 64% men in a typically white male dominated environment.

From 2015 to 2018, she served on the main board of techUK, a non-profit representing the companies and technologies that are defining today, the world that we will live in tomorrow.

Today, she is the Chair of the Diversity & Skills Council at techUK and is actively involved in several Diversity & Inclusion programs including Gender Pay Gap reporting, Returners Programs and is a founding supporter of the WISE Campaign's People Like Me. In 2018, she also worked with Girlguiding to incorporate STEM into their badges and attended 2018 Camp CEO as a role model for Girl Guides.

She was listed in Cranfield University’s School of Management 100 Women to Watch report - a supplement to the Female FTSE Board Report 2018 and in the Computer Weekly 100 Most Influential Women in Technology in 2017 & 2018.

A regular commentator on STEM, equality and inclusion topics, she has appeared on BBC News, BBC World and in various publications.


Foluke Akinlose MBE

Foluke Akinlose MBE | PRECIOUS

Foluke Akinlose MBE

Foluke Akinlose MBE is founder of PRECIOUS, the leading online network and resource for women of colour in business and leadership (www.preciousonline.co.uk)

Foluke is a trained journalist and editor with a strong background in digital and traditional media. Her career has taken in roles as Internet Europe Editor at Moreover.com; a Reuters backed technology start-up which provided business intelligence and news aggregation products for enterprises and consumers. She also served as editor of ATE Online, the world's leading provider of business information and services to the international gaming, coin-operated and electronic amusements and leisure industries. She has also undertaken editorial roles at the Natural History Museum, Sport England and David Lloyd Leisure Group.

She launched PRECIOUS in 1999 when working in the New Media Department at ITN. It was the first digital publication aimed at women of colour to launch in the UK, pre-broadband and wireless and was hailed as a pioneering initiative.

Foluke has a genuine passion for showcasing the achievements of women of colour, which in 2007 led her to launch The Precious Awards (www.preciousawards.com) a unique annual awards event that celebrates women of colour in business and leadership. Endorsed as ‘vital’ by former PM David Cameron, and an incredible opportunity by PM Teresa May, the awards celebrate the achievements of women of colour in business and entrepreneurship, across a range of industries.

In 2010, Foluke launched the PRECIOUS Girls project which works with schools to encourage, inspire, support and promote the next generation of women of colour by increasing entrepreneurial attitudes and provide access to positive female role models. Foluke is also publisher of The PRECIOUS Book of Quotes, a book featuring quotes and advice from 50 inspirational women.

In 2018, Foluke launched The PRECIOUS Lifestyle Awards, a platform that highlights the achievements of women of colour in the Creative Industries. The event hosted at Google put the spotlight on women creating products and services in digital, hair, beauty, publishing and tech.

In 2008 Foluke was named in the top 100 in Courvoisier's “The Future 500” a list of the country's top achievers across ten wide-ranging categories. She was honoured with an MBE in the 2010 New Year's Honours List for services to the Creative Industries. In 2011 she was listed on One World Actions List of One Hundred (Unseen) Powerful Women who change the World and in 2012 Foluke was awarded a Media Pioneer Award at the Specialist Media Show awards.


Deborah Gilshan

Deborah Gilshan | The 100% Club

Deborah Gilshan

Deborah Gilshan has over 18 years of experience in investment stewardship.

Her areas of specialism include corporate governance, executive pay, diversity, corporate culture, sustainability and market policy work to protect the rights of shareholders. Ms. Gilshan is a regular commentator and public advocate on investment stewardship and her work has featured in the Financial Times, the New York Times and other mainstream financial media.

Ms. Gilshan is currently an Investment Director in the ESG (environmental, social and governance) team at Aberdeen Standard Investments, the global asset manager, having joined Standard Life Investments in May 2017 prior to its merger. Previously, she was Head of Sustainable Ownership at RPMI Railpen, the pension fund for the UK railway industry, and she started her governance career in December 2000 at the UK's Co-operative Insurance Society. She read Mathematics and English at the University of Manchester and previously worked in corporate tax at Ernst & Young.

Ms. Gilshan is a Fellow of ICSA: The Governance Institute and holds the CFA's Investment Management Certificate. She co-chairs the Investor Group of the 30% Club, the global market initiative to promote diversity in companies. Ms Gilshan chairs the Ethics & Systemic Risk Committee of the International Corporate Governance Network. She was a member of the Steering Group of the UK Financial Reporting Council's project on corporate culture and now serves on the FRC's Stakeholder Advisory Committee.

In October 2011, Ms. Gilshan founded The 100% Club, a multi-sector alliance for professional women that seeks to promote the importance of networking for career advancement and personal development. The 100% Club is based on a philosophy that values the distinctiveness women bring to the workplace and how that distinctiveness drives sustainable corporate cultures that respect diversity in all its forms.


Carmel McKinney

Carmel McKinney OBE | Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service

Carmel McKinney

I started my career as a teacher moving through the professional pathways to become a school principal in an area of high deprivation with multiple barriers to learning including underachievement in literacy and numeracy.

Under my leadership the school moved from the lowest percentile ranking in literacy and numeracy to the highest percentile ranking for schools serving similar intake.

I became an Associate Inspector of schools and then changed lanes moving in to higher and further education as a teacher head of department and specialist tutor in dyslexia for which I and my team won the Pearson Teaching Award in 2013.

I became a non executive chairperson of an education and library board with an annual budget of over 200 million and a staff of 5000 and followed this up by another non executive position of a further education college.

In 2015 I realised that the skills and abilities as well as my achievements throughout my career were indeed transferable into an arena which is predominately male - namely a fire and rescue service.

The Minister, through a public appointment process appointed me as the first female chairperson of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service which I feel is an example of breaking a glass ceiling. I am the sole female in the Boardroom and within the top two substantive tiers of the organisation.

Under my leadership I have brought about a number of hugely successful initiatives to promote and empower females to step forward for leadership positions both internal and external to the organisation.

In an organisation of over 2000 employees and around 12% female this has been a priority for myself and my colleagues who support me to drive through the the work in diversity and gender, The impact is evidenced adnd recognised through a number of highly prestigious awards including myself winning the Institute of Directors Non Executive Director of the Year 2018 and NIFRS winning the Guardian Public Services Diversity and Inclusion Award in 2018


Sarah-Jane Butler

Sarah-Jane Butler | Parental Choice

Sarah-Jane Butler

I am the founder of Parental Choice (www.parentalchoice.co.uk), a company dedicated to making a difference to parents through their employers.

In 2014, I was recognised by Brummell Magazine as one of the City’s Top Inspirational Entrepreneurs, whilst Parental Choice has been named in the top ten SMEs to work for by Working Families, short-listed three times for the SME Employer of the Year Award by Working Mums and shortlisted for the Relocate Awards 2018 in the Excellence in Employee and Family Support category.

A graduate of Bristol University, where I studied French and German, I became a lawyer, beginning my career in financial law at Linklaters. In 2004 I became an associate at Freshfields, a role which included secondment to the New York office and to the Real Estate Banking Group at Goldman Sachs. From 2007 until 2011, I was a senior associate at Berwin Leighton Paisner.
I retrained as an employment lawyer in 2011 and set up Parental Choice after the birth of my first daughter.

Aside from running the business since 2011, during this time I have also been / am

  • a Trustee of the Family and Childcare Trust;
    • consultant legal counsel for Allen Lane, a public sector recruitment company;
    • non-executive director of the Association of Nanny Agencies;
  • an affiliate member of the CIPD and a member of the CIPD Senior Policy Forum;
  • a Changemaker supporting Working Families;
  • a member of the Regulation Matters campaign working towards the regulation of domestic care in the home; and
  • a fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.

I have been involved with Government consultations on childminder agencies as well as speaking publicly at Government policy briefings on topics such as “Bridging the Gender Equality Gap - The Future Role of Women” and the “Back to Work for Women” programme. I have attended several HR summits in my role as director of Parental Choice, including speaking at the Institute of Director’s “Women in Business” conference and appearing on panels on gender diversity in the workplace, I also present at law firms and corporates on family friendly benefits, childcare options and businesses’ family rights obligations at work including flexible working and shared parental leave reforms.

In October 2018, I opened our office in Hong Kong to extend Parental Choice's services across the APAC region as well as the UK and EMEA. Over 8 years, Parental Choice has developed successful collaborations with family focused businesses in a variety of sectors, including Law, Retail, Financial Services and Media, enabling employers to support parent professionals combine long-term careers with, amongst other services, childcare, well-being support and family global mobility support, making a real difference to their lives.