The Great British Businesswoman Series interviews Fiona Daniel - CEO & Founder of FD21, Women On Boards Ambassador, D&I Speaker & Panellist and Great British Businesswoman judge.

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As we prepare for this year’s Great British Businesswoman Awards we’ve set up a great panel of judges to help us select the winners - based on their experience, and mission to celebrate the best women in business. 

The Great British Businesswoman Awards brings together and celebrates the women who are changing the face of business across the United Kingdom - and having judges like Fiona on board who have worked incredibly hard to get where they are today, we’re able to celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the best businesswomen in a number of industries. 

Fiona is a qualified diversity and inclusion leader and D&I company award winner with over 15 years experience of leading and growing the global diversity & inclusion agenda for one of the largest banking and finance service organisations in the world, including leading the UK as the Head of Diversity and Inclusion - she is on a mission to create a more equal and diverse world for all. 

Fiona is passionate about people and inclusion and works tirelessly for the implementation of a holistic strategic approach which underpins all aspects of people’s decisions in business.

After great success at HSBC, she has established her own business and is now the CEO and founder of FD2i focused on driving action which aspires to move from diversity to inclusion, and actively advocating for inclusion to be a core component of business strategic agendas.

We caught up with Fiona to discuss her experience as a businesswoman, what these awards mean to her, and what we can expect from her in the future. 

Throughout your career so far, have you noticed any significant changes in regard to women in business and the development of this topic? 

“There are two elements here, one being women in business and women running their own businesses across a diversity of sectors. The significant change I noticed is the increase of women in both of these areas. Women in business are now taken more seriously, particularly in respect of investment in their businesses, breaking the glass ceiling, and getting onto boards. The UK is now second in international rankings for women’s representation on boards at FTSE 100 level, with nearly 40% of positions now held by women, compared with 12.5% 10 years ago - that is a significant change.

“There are over 700 more women in Leadership roles in the FTSE 350 companies as of Feb 2022, increasing women’s representation to 31.5%, an increase of 2% year on year. 

“The bad news is, whilst there is a lot of positive focus including the Gender Pay Gap reporting and aspirational targets etc, we are still not seeing this trend translate into CEO roles and there is little diversity in terms of intersectionality e.g black and brown women.”

What does it mean for you to be a part of this awards programme, and what made you want to be a judge/ why do you believe you are a good fit?

“It sounds a little cliché to say I am quite proud, but I am so proud to be part of this because there are many amazing women doing amazing things who often go unnoticed. It is always good to be part of something that aims to lift others. I wanted to be part of it since its conception as it links in well with many of my passions, such as diversifying boards, supporting women through coaching and mentoring, understanding the challenges that women face particularly women of colour in the workplace and advocating for that. 

“Equity, equality, diversity and inclusion are just who I am and striving for that is what keeps me in the game,” she added.

Why do you believe it is important to continue to celebrate women in this way? And why would you encourage people to enter this awards programme?

“We are just not there yet with equality, equity and inclusion in respect of women. It’s a sad indictment to say that these platforms are still needed in 2022 but yet here we are. It is important that we celebrate women in this way to continue to inspire and encourage women. The more women can see what they can be the more we accelerate the dial to change,” she said. 

“I would encourage people to enter not because they want that extra pat on the back, but to raise the visibility of their achievements which in turn I hope motivates and inspire others. 

“Too often we step back instead of stepping forward, confusing humility with embracing the positive impact that can be had and sharing it. I would encourage anyone to throw their hat in the ring and open the doors for others to follow through.”

What do you hope, and predict for the future of women in business, in both your industry and others? 

“I hope that more diverse women continue to make their mark on the world of business, and I predict that women will be more vocal and be activists in ensuring that the equality, equity and inclusion of women is a continuing legacy for the present and future generations.”

As well as the future of other women in business, we’d love to hear a bit more about what you’re doing at the moment and what we can expect to see next from you?

“At the moment I am working on a programme which will support and aid the progression of diverse talent, and this is also what you can expect to see next from me. Watch this space!”

Lastly, If you had one piece of advice for those women within the business world, what would it be?

“Don’t compare yourself to anyone” she said. 

“Don’t be hard on yourself, we are always our own worst critics. Just always believe in yourself and remember you are always more than enough!”

Are you a woman in business with an inspiring story, paving the way for the next generation of female leaders? Enter this year’s Great British Businesswoman Awards here.