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Women supporting women – Redwood’s message for International Women’s Day


‘There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women’.

The famous quote from Madeleine Albright echoed through Redwood Bank as colleagues shared their stories and thoughts for International Women’s Day – with an over-riding theme that women should give support to each other.

Redwood is proud to champion women in banking and has been a signatory to the Women in Finance Charter since October 2019. Since then it has increased the proportion of women in senior management roles – defined as board members, executive committee members and heads of departments – from 20 per cent to 34 per cent.

One of those senior leaders is Non-Executive Director Maria Darby-Walker, who said: “As someone from a working-class background and the first in my family to go to university, I am proud of what I have achieved.

Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as the US Secretary of State, put it well when she said: ‘There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.’ And she’s right! So, I will go out of my way to support women in business wherever I can.

“Like many, I have had ups and downs throughout my career – something of a rollercoaster. It took me a while to work out that what made me thrive in some businesses versus others was a positive culture and strong values. The importance of having a great boss and someone who is a mentor to you can never be underestimated.

“It’s always great to hear about inspiring women, so an opportunity to mark what women have achieved over the centuries, whether in literature, art, science, business, politics, or other fields, is welcome.”

Tracey Lester, Head of People at Redwood, said: “Someone once said to me: ‘Always be yourself and never compromise for less, that way you will continue to shine.’ That person was a very successful inspiring female who once gave me a chance and subsequently became my mentor and lifelong friend.

“For me, International Women’s Day is about recognising, supporting, celebrating and honouring women’s progress and achievements around the world over the years. Investing in women and championing gender equality creates a future where everyone in society can thrive, thus creating opportunities and empowerment for all.

“The quote that has inspired me the most is from Lucille Ball: ‘I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than the things I haven’t done’.”

Jenny Daniels, Business Support Manager, said that advice given to her years ago to “know your worth” had stuck with her through every career choice she had made.

She said: “It's been a journey and I have been in numerous roles – and even had a stint outside banking in telecommunications – but have always come back to what I know and am passionate about.

“To me, International Women’s Day means celebrating and empowering women and their achievements in the workplace and in life.”

Dale Babb, Risk Manager, said: “For me, International Women’s Day means we recognise the hard work that women worldwide do every day, inside and outside of their career.

“‘Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud’, as Maya Angelou put it. I am always willing to help anyone; you never know what they might be going through.”

Head of Treasury, Caoimhe McDonald, said: “Women are great; we need to celebrate them at every opportunity.

“It would be great if everyone had the confidence to reach their potential. I’m always happy to help others and give compliments when I think someone has done a good job. Listening is important too; we should ensure that everyone feels heard and valued.

“Advice that I try to follow is that we should push ourselves to do things we don’t feel ready for and things that make us nervous. When I look back on the times I’ve been given opportunities, it’s because other people had confidence in my abilities and encouraged me to take them.”

Sophie Beaumont, Redwood’s Banking Operations Manager, said other women had been vital to her progression.

She said: “I have worked hard to achieve the position I am now in. With the help of other strong female influences within the bank, I am empowered to strive for more each day.

“Venture outside your comfort zone. Although scary, it has helped me with my progression though my career and meant I have been prepared for questions that may not have been within my role at the point in time.

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”

On what International Women’s Day means to her, Sophie simply said: “It makes me proud to be a woman.”