“In 2011 we expected evolution, and looking back we’ve seen near revolution taking place in the boardroom of British business” Denise Wilson OBE

Denise Wilson returned to campus for an Inspired in Hull Lecture on Wednesday 10 October, you can see the full lecture and Q&A here (from 31 minutes)

“When we started this there were 152 all-male boards,” Denise Wilson says of her work with the Hampton-Alexander Review during her “Inspired in Hull lecture on 10th October 2018. “Today their are only five.”

Denise invited the audience of University staff, students and alumni to imagine the changing culture and dynamic of those 152 boardrooms and asked if change on that scale is not a revolution.

As Chief Executive of the Hampton-Alexander review into increasing the number of women in senior positions in FTSE 350 companies (building on the work of the Davies Review of Women on Boards) Denise has been a champion for diversity in British business, working with the Boards and leadership teams of the biggest companies in the country to address the cultural and structural issues that have been stopping women from being treated more fairly, and from being given the opportunities at the very highest levels.

Earlier this year Denise, who graduated from Hispanic Studies in 1984, was recognised by the University with an honorary degree for her social contribution, and it was a great honour to be able to bring Denise back to campus to speak to our wider community as part of our Inspired in Hull lecture series. The lecture series is named from the University’s goal for students and alumni to be ‘inspired in Hull to go beyond’ and reach for the very highest levels in their chosen fields. Having reached the highest level in her own succesful career in finanance and in the energy sector, Denise is now using her skills and experience to make the path to the top fairer for others. She is inspiring women to reach for leadership positions, and inspiring men in those positions to realise the greater benefits available to those who understand the value of diversity and fairness.

These values are at the heart of the University’s mission to ensure that those with talent are recognised, rewarded and given the opportunities they deserve to make a contribution to their companies, communities and sectors. An exceptional communicator, Denise laid out the simple, practical and effective steps that need to be taken to turn those values into genuine change in the world.

The Q&A at the end was lively, passionate and thoughtful, with Denise taking lots of questions from an audience inspired and enthused by her words. The lecture had created the impetus for a conversation that helped equip those present with the tools and ideas they needed for change, just as Denise’s work is creating those conversations in boardrooms across Britain.

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