A must-read for every global businesswoman.
Lloyd’s of London CEO Inga Beale has a reverse mentor—a Lloyd’s employee who’s in his or her 20s and just starting out. She switches them out about every six months, but one message is consistent: “The feedback constantly is, ‘We want to see you as a real person,'” Beale told the Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit in London. “‘We want to see you all over Instagram. We want to know you as an individual.’ They don’t want to see this CEO sitting up in this ivory tower, untouchable.”
It’s a message that Beale has abided by for years but that nevertheless bears repeating. She still struggles to meet all of her reverse mentors’ expectations—”I am the worst at taking selfies,” Beale admits—but she is remarkably candid about one aspect of her life: her bisexuality.
Beale first disclosed her sexuality in 2008 during a job interview for a role on the group management board at Zurich Insurance. She’d tired of hiding the reality; of leading a dual life. “I can now be much more myself; I can be my own personality,” she said at the Summit. And she’s found that personal transparency is a way “to engage with that younger generation.”
“Coming out, just being natural at work is going to be the winner,” she said.
Beale wanted to infuse a culture of authenticity into Lloyd’s when she became the 325-year-old insurer’s first-ever female CEO in January 2014. That meant addressing diversity and inclusion—including LGBT rights—openly. She wanted to put those issues “on the table because Lloyd’s is extremely traditional.” In the past two years, it’s managed to improve the share of women on its executive teams in London—albeit slightly—from 3% to 5%.
“So, we have made a little step, but fundamentally we have got a really serious issues,” she said, noting that Lloyd’s is far behind other FTSE 100 companies.
Affecting such change is not easy, even with a CEO who’s all-in. “It takes courage to speak out about it every single day,” she says.
Read on for more highlights from the Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit, and many thanks to Fortune’s Valentina Zarya, who contributed to today’s WMPW.
|Out of hiding|
|Conservative House of Lords member Anne Jenkin delivered a poignant address just a few days after her party lost its majority in Parliament. She said she initially wanted to “hide under the duvet” at the outcome, but came to see it as a call to help a more diverse roster of Conservatives win seats in the future.|
|Following the London Bridge terrorist attack, Prime Minister Theresa May lashed out at “the big companies that provide Internet-based services” for giving extremist ideology “the safe space it needs to breed.” Nicola Mendelsohn, who serves as Facebook’s vice president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, responded to that finger-pointing at the Summit, reciting the defense Facebook has repeatedly used against such criticism. “[W]e want to be a hostile environment for terrorists,” she said.|
|Casting a spell|
|Singer-songwriter Annie Lennox told the MPW International crowd that some men can feel daunted by feminism, but that’s not a reason to exclude them from the movement. “One flaw is that we intimidate men too much and I think we need to bring them in and have a healthy dialogue,” she said.|
|Over the moon|
|Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian woman to go to space (and the first person to make an espresso there!), talked at the Summit about what it takes to be a good astronaut. Rather than recruiting candidates with “go-go” personalities, space programs now want people who can work well on teams, she said. “It’s more valuable to be someone who can empower others to work at their best than to be an individual achiever,” she said.|
|After nearly five years at the helm of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer has officially resigned. On Tuesday, she posted on Tumblr a copy of an email she sent employees as Verizon completed its $4.5 billion acquisition of the one-time Internet giant’s operations. “Looking back on my time at Yahoo, we have confronted seemingly insurmountable business challenges, along with many surprise twists and turns,” she wrote. “I’ve seen our teams navigate these hurdles and mountains in ways that have not only made Yahoo a better company, but also made all of us far stronger.”|
|After months of interviewing employees and workplace reviews, Uber yesterday released the recommendations of an internal investigation about its failure to police reckless behavior within the company. The tech giant’s board unanimously voted to adopt all of the suggestions, such as establishing a zero-tolerance policy for complaints of discrimination and harassment. But that news was overshadowed later in the day amid reports that Uber board member and TPG Capital co-founder David Bonderman had interrupted fellow board member Arianna Huffington with a sexist joke during a staff meeting on how Uber planned to shed its macho culture. He later resigned.|
|Why she’s running|
|In an interview with Fortune‘s Maddie Farber, Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Ga.), who’s aiming to be the first black female governor in the U.S., explains that the 2016 presidential election was a motivating factor in her decision to run. Abrams is already the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly and the first African-American to lead in the House of Representatives as House Minority Leader.|
|India inches forward|
|A report from Deloitte LLP shows that while most Asian nations are making slow advances when it comes to gender diversity on corporate boards—Taiwan, Japan and South Korea are among the worst offenders—India has made significant progress in naming more female directors. The number of female directors in the country has increased by nearly five percentage points since 2015.|
|More Trump brand troubles|
|The Guardian reports that employees of a factory making Ivanka Trump-branded clothing in Subang, Indonesia tell stories of “being paid so little they cannot live with their children, anti-union intimidation, and women being offered a bonus if they don’t take time off while menstruating.”|
|Bad treatment of ‘Bad Feminist’|
|Australian website Mamamia has apologized to feminist author Roxane Gay after publishing a podcast interview with text that asked whether she would “fit into the office lift.”|
|Senator Kamala Harris was interrupted by her male colleagues—again|
|Incoming Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman has a new board seat|
|The Indian video challenging ‘shy bride’ stereotypes|
|Harassment, stigma and fatwas: what is it like to cycle as a woman?|
|Megyn Kelly dropped as host of anti-gun violence group’s gala|
|—Transgender activist and writer Janet Mock|