Agents of Change power list 2018

It's not just up to women to #PressForProgress. We reveal the top male Agents of Change pushing for parity in the workplace.

by Kate Bassett
Last Updated: 11 Feb 2020

Andrew Lawson has had a long career in the tech industry, spanning CA, Siebel, Oracle and now cloud computing giant Salesforce, where he’s risen up the ranks to become executive vice-president for EMEA.

But in each company, he’s noticed the same problem: ‘Every time I went to a meeting, I kept seeing the same faces around the room. They were all men.’

In the UK, less than one in three people working in the tech sector are women. And Lawson is on a mission to change that.

He grew up in Glasgow with a ‘strong working mother’ and powerful female peers, including the Scottish sailor Shirley Robertson, who made it into history books by becoming the first British woman to win two Olympic gold medals at consecutive games. Lawson's also worked for inspirational female leaders, such as Israeli-born Safra Catz, now co-CEO of Oracle. He's determined to encourage more.

‘Do we have enough female take-up of STEM subjects at school? Do we have enough women choosing a career in tech? Do we have enough women at the top of the industry? The answer to all those questions is no.’

To #PressForProgress, Lawson has driven Salesforce’s High-Potential Leadership Programme in the UK, resulting in a 33% increase in the number of women promoted last year. He’s also worked with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts on new achievement badges in science and tech.

‘Salesforce has spent $6m trying to close its gender and racial pay gaps. But that doesn't let us off the hook from doing more,’ he says. ‘I grew up in a town divided by religion. I will not allow the workplace to be divided by gender.’

Lawson is back on MT’s Agents of Change power list for a second year. The list, published in partnership with the Women’s Business Council, shines a spotlight on the 'manbassadors' who are championing gender equality and challenging the status quo.

This year’s list was judged by Management Today alongside Hilary Spencer, director of the Government Equalities Office; Richard Robinson of Econsultancy; and Denis Woulfe, member of the Women's Business Council and former vice chair of Deloitte.

Read the full list below. Be inspiried. And push for change.

@MT_Women  @WomenEqualities  #AgentsofChange

Come to our Inspiring Women in Business conference. Edinburgh. 15th May: Get tips and advice from Britain's most powerful businesswomen. Hear from Skyscanner, Clydesdale Bank, CBI Scotland, Atkins and more. Guest speaker: Dame Cilla Snowball.

Come to our Young Women in Business conference. London. 27th June: Super-charge your career with practical masterclasses on everything from presentation skills to tackling budgets. Guest speaker: Dame Helena Morrissey.

Toby Allen and Jim Hilson

Creative partners, AMV BBDO

Creative partners Allen and Hilson have transformed AMV BBDO. The duo set up the advertising giant’s academy, designed to rebalance the makeup of the agency's creative department; 80% of the creatives they’ve hired through the scheme are women. They’ve also shaped the agency’s diversity policy and have championed Free the Bid, pledging to give equal opportunities to female film directors. ‘We’re pale and male. We can’t change that – but getting more women creatives into the industry stops us getting stale,’ they say. Their work has had a genuine cultural impact. As creative directors for Bodyform’s advertising, they’ve led pioneering global campaigns to destigmatise periods and break societal taboos that hold women back.

@tmffa  @Jimlbh

Marc Allera

Allera holds the top spot at EE – Britain’s biggest mobile phone operator, part of the BT family, and ranked the ‘best big company to work for’ by the Sunday Times. But Allera isn’t resting on his laurels. ‘Lack of gender diversity is a threat to our industry,’ he says. ‘We need to act now to drive swift and real change.’ As chairman of the BT Diversity and Inclusion board, he’s working towards a 50:50 gender split across all levels of BT’s consumer brands. To that end, 53% of graduates across the organisation are female, all recruitment agencies are under contract to provide a 50:50 mix of candidates and all job advertisements are gender neutral. Allera has also rolled out unconscious bias training to the entire group. The business has partnered with to launch Lean In Circles. 


Yann Borgstedt
President and founder, The Womanity Foundation

Borgstedt is the entrepreneur and philanthropist behind The Womanity Foundation, a UK and Swiss organisation created in 2005 to fight for women’s empowerment and education in developing countries. Initiatives include helping young women in Afghanistan to break into STEM careers through the ‘Girls Can Code’ programme; challenging the stereotypical role of women in Arab societies via a groundbreaking fiction series; and creating the first commercial women’s radio exclusively in the Middle East. Borgstedt is an investor in the Allbright Collective and is a member of Women Moving Millions.


Sir Roger Carr
Chairman, BAE Systems

Sir Roger started his career as a computer programmer and is now one of Britain’s most distinguished business leaders. He’s headed up companies ranging from Cadbury and Centrica to Bank of England and the BBC Trust. Sir Roger is a powerful supporter of boardroom diversity; he is a founding member of the 30% Club and was a major advocate for diversity while president of the CBI. And he practises what he preaches; as chairman of BAE Systems, he recruited former US Senator Kelly Ayotte to the board last year, bringing the total female membership to 36%. ‘At least half the talent is female in this world,’ he says. ‘If you ­ignore that you do so at your peril.’


Sir Ian Cheshire
Chairman, Debenhams

With a career spanning Sears, B&Q, Kingfisher and Debenhams, where he’s now chairman, Sir Ian is a doyen of the retail sector – and he’s actively trying to make it more diverse. Sir Ian claims that ‘superhero behaviour’ and ‘overtly masculine’ leadership will no longer cut it in the industry. ‘Leaders in retail should work harder to empower the women in their workforce, especially as it is widely agreed that there is a commercial advantage to embracing a more collaborative and gender-balanced executive team,’ he says. The former British Retail Consortium chief is an ambassador of Retail Week’s ‘Be Inspired’ campaign, aimed at encouraging and promoting the careers of successful female leaders.

@Debenhams ?

Gary Coombe
President, P&G Europe

As the boss of P&G Europe, Coombe runs a $15bn business with 30,000 employees and world-famous brands such as Ariel, Pampers, Gillette and Pantene. He also bangs the drum for diversity and inclusion; he’s the executive sponsor for P&G Europe’s gender equality programmes and actively champions the company’s ‘Men Advocating Real Change’ initiative. And those schemes are working; women now make up 45% of all managers in P&G Europe and the executive board comprises 40% women. Coombe urges companies not just to advance gender equality in their organisations but use the power of their brands and advertising to encourage progress in society.


James Cowles
Chief executive officer for Europe, Middle East & Africa, Citi

As the EMEA boss for investment banking giant Citi, Cowles wants to see more women in senior leadership positions. He has doubled female representation in his operating committee in the past four years, and introduced unconscious bias training. He’s also made it a contractual requirement that Citi’s recruiters and agencies present a diverse slate of candidates for every senior vacancy. Since taking on the role in 2013, Cowles has supported the creation and promotion of 17 women’s networks and five parents’ networks across EMEA.


John Cridland
Chairman, Transport for the North

Cridland joined the CBI as a policy adviser in 1982 and spent the next 33 years there. He was the first insider to rise to the top of the business lobby group, where he championed inclusive work environments – and he was the first CBI director-general to be succeeded by a woman. He became chair of TfN in 2015 and carried out the UK's first state pension age review a year later, aiming to 'smooth the transition for tomorrow’s pensioners' and to try and make the future both fair and sustainable’, particularly for older working women. He has worked closely with the Women’s Business Council to encourage women to ‘Stay On’ in their careers.


David Cruickshank
Global chairman, Deloitte

Scotland-born Cruickshank is the global chairman of Deloitte – one of the first large firms to publish its gender pay gap voluntarily. The professional services company is consistently ranked as a top 10 employer for working families, offering coaching for parents and an industry-first, 20-week return-to-work programme for those who have been out of the professional services workforce for more than two years. Cruickshank is a founding supporter of the 30% Club and a board member of the Social Progress Imperative. He’s also chair of the Education and Employers charity, which runs the Inspiring Women Campaign – bringing together women from a wide range of occupations with female students to broaden their career aspirations (watch the charity’s two-minute film, Redraw the Balance, here).


Matt Elliott
People director, Virgin Money

Following HR roles at RBS and BP, Elliott joined Virgin Money as people director in 2011. He advocates ‘bringing the outside in’ and has set an ambitious target of a 50/50 gender split at all levels by 2020. Schemes include equalising maternity pay for parental leave (40% of fathers now take extended leave); matching flexible working practices of prospective senior candidates; launching a free ‘Women in Finance’ app to promote best practice; and running maternity mentoring. Virgin Money voluntarily reported its gender pay gap in 2016 and was the first FTSE 350 firm to report under the new rules. Elliott has been named a Financial Times Top 50 LGBT ally for three consecutive years, a Top 30 ‘Male Champion of Women in Business’, and was made a companion of the CMI for his contribution to diversity.


Daniele Fiandaca
Co-founder, Token Man

Describing himself as a ‘proud feminist’, Fiandaca is the co-founder of Token Man, an initiative to educate men on the challenges women face every day in the workplace and to inspire behaviour change. The not-for-profit organisation delivers ‘hacking gender diversity’ workshops, and has a database of Token Men who speak on panels around gender inclusion. Fiandaca is also one of the brains behind The Great British Diversity Experiment, providing practical and relevant actions to drive change in the communications and creative industries. He runs consultancy firm Utopia and sits on the advisory board of Creative Equals, the ‘gender equality kitemark’ of the creative industry.


Rod Flavell
CEO, FDM Group

Rod Flavell started FDM Group in a Brighton attic in 1991 and has built it into one of the country’s top IT graduate employers, expanding into Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. ‘Diversity, social mobility and inclusion are an essential part of who we are,’ he says. More than a quarter of the company’s employees worldwide and half of its management team are women – and FDM has set up a range of initiatives to encourage more into the sector, such as its Global Women in IT and Getting Back to Business programmes. It sponsors the annual FDM everywoman in Technology Awards and has signed the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, the CEO Charter of the UK Resource Centre for Women and joined the Think, Act, Report initiative of the Home Office.


Paul Frampton-Calero
Former group CEO, Havas Media Group UK and Ireland

Frampton-Calero is one of the UK’s defining voices on the advertising and media industry, voted ‘top agency social CEO’ by Media Week and named as one of Campaign’s top 25 marketing influencers. While at the helm of Havas Media Group in the UK – comprising 10 different agencies and 850 employees – he introduced a diversity and inclusion charter, coaching for parents returning to work and mentoring for lower and mid-level female staff, increased paternity leave to two weeks as standard for all fathers, and instigated gender pay gap analysis. He has been an advisor for the Women in Marketing body for the past five years. ‘I like challenging the status quo,’ he says. ‘It’s in my DNA.’


Paul Geddes
CEO, Direct Line

Direct Line boss Geddes has pushed diversity and inclusion up the board agenda at Britain’s largest car insurer. In 2016, it became the first in its industry to sign up to the Women in Finance Charter, a pledge for gender balance across financial services. It has vowed to increase the female representation of senior management to 30% by the end of 2019 by committing to gender-balanced shortlists and creating a development programme for high-potential females. Direct Line sponsored MT’s Inspiring Women conferences in London and Edinburgh last year. ‘In insurance we can still get a bit of an edge on our competitors by being the place that most embraces diversity – not only by who you recruit but how the environment lets people be themselves,’ says Geddes.


Mike Haigh
Group MD, Mott MacDonald

Back on the list for a second year, Mott MacDonald chief Haigh continues to disrupt the engineering sector by asking ‘where are all the women?’ He introduced unconscious bias training for Mott MacDonald leaders – and has now included it in the standard induction for all new joiners, and has upped maternity and paternity pay and provisions. Last year, Haigh was chair of the Association for Consulting and Engineering and used the platform to promote gender diversity across the industry at events such as the European CEO Conference, ACE Infrastructure Awards and UK Construction Week.


Sir Philip Hampton
Chair, Hampton-Alexander Review & chair, GSK 

Before joining GSK in 2016, City grandee Sir Philip chaired major FTSE 100 companies including The Royal Bank of Scotland Group and J Sainsbury. He has also served as group finance director at Lloyds TSB, BT, oil giant BG, British Gas and British Steel. His report, the Hampton-Alexander Review, with the late Dame Helen Alexander, called on the entire FTSE 350 index to ensure that one third of the roles on their executive committees – and direct reports to those committees – are held by women. Sir Philip was one of our Agents of Change judges last year.


David Hynam
CEO, Bupa UK

Hynam is the leader of Britain’s biggest health insurer Bupa, where 78% of employees and half of the UK executive team are women. Hynam has championed schemes such as the mums’ returners network; Tommy’s pregnancy membership as standard in the firm’s maternity offer; the ability for customer service colleagues to work from home instead of the contact centre; and participation in the cross-company Women Ahead mentoring scheme. Last year, Bupa UK sponsored the Business in the Community ‘Same But Different’ campaign to challenge assumptions and the usual discourse about women at work.


Stephen Kelly
CEO, Sage

A father of three daughters, Sage CEO Kelly describes fighting for gender equality as a ‘personal mission’. Since taking the helm of the world’s largest accountancy software supplier in 2014, Kelly has actively driven the company’s diversity and inclusion agenda. ‘Advocacy and passion for gender equality must come from the CEO downwards – and every colleague is responsible for it,’ he says. Kelly is a mentor on the Women@Sage programme to support high-potential female colleagues, co-hosted a pitch competition for female-led start-ups with Doteveryone last year and is partnering with domestic violence charity Refuge to support and upskill women returning to work. Sage currently has a 53% male/47% female gender split – far better than most major tech firms.


Andrew Lawson
Executive vice president EMEA, Salesforce

Salesforce boss Lawson continues to champion women in tech – and has bagged an Agents of Change listing for a second year. He has driven the cloud computing giant’s High-Potential Leadership Programme in the UK, which has resulted in a 33% increase in the number of women promoted last year. Salesforce sponsors the Vitesse Women in IT Awards and backs education schemes to encourage more girls to pursue a career in tech including CoderDojo, Stemettes and Apps for Good. Last year, Lawson supported a Girl Guides initiative to develop technology-skill-related badges.


Ivan Menezes
CEO, Diageo

Raise a glass to Menezes who wants to make drinks giant Diageo ‘the best employer for women in the UK’. The company ranked third in the 2017 ‘Hampton Alexander Review FTSE 100 for Women on Boards and in Leadership’ and jointly held the top position for Companies with Female Executive Directors in the 2017 ‘Cranfield School of Management Female FTSE Report’. Diageo also published its gender pay gap stats last year, revealing a median pay gap of 8.6% across its GB and Scottish operations – far below the national average of 18.8%. In April, Diageo’s board of directors will reach gender parity when Ursula Burns starts her role as non-executive director. 40% of the global executive committee and more than 30% of the global senior leadership team are women.


Captain David Morgan
Director of flight operations, easyJet

Only 4% of commercial pilots worldwide are women. Until recently you could fit every female captain in the world on one Airbus A380 aircraft. Morgan, easyJet’s director of flight operations, wants to change that. He’s flying the flag for women in the aviation industry through easyJet’s Amy Johnson Flying Initiative, which encourages more women to become an airline pilot. He’s also set an ambitious target that 20% of the airline’s new entrant pilots should be female by 2020. Morgan has encouraged easyJet’s 2,800 pilots to go into schools and youth organisations, so that young women who might not have considered a career as a pilot can hear more about the role and, crucially, see female pilot role models for the first time. As a result of the initiative, easyJet recruited 49 female new entrant co-pilots last year – a 48% increase on the previous year.

@easyJet ?

Jaymin Patel
CEO, Brightstar Corp

Brightstar is the biggest name in mobile telecoms that you’ve never heard of. It’s one of the world’s largest distributors of mobile phones, acting as a middleman between networks and manufacturers. Kenya-born Patel, who joined Brightstar in 2015 from global gaming and lottery company GTECH, is an active champion of women in the telecoms sector; the last two executive appointments to the global Brightstar leadership team have both been female. Last year, the company was named World’s Most Ethical Company by the Ethisphere Institute for investing in local communities and embracing strategies of diversity and inclusion. Patel supports the Women’s Business Council and has promoted its Men as Agents of Change initiative.


Paul Pester
CEO, TSB Banking Group

TSB boss Pester is known as the ‘white knight of the banking industry’. He wants to see more transparency – and more diversity. The bank was one of the first financial services firms to publish its gender pay gap last July and called on UK companies to ‘come clean’ over gender imbalance in the workplace. TSB runs recruitment campaigns targeted specifically at women who wish to return to work, uses gender-balanced shortlists for all recruitment and offers all employees the opportunity to work flexibly and share parental leave. It has a 40% female board and has made a commitment that between 45-55% of all senior roles at TSB will be held by women. ‘As the UK's challenger bank, we must be the catalyst for industry change,’ says Pester.


Ian Rand
CEO, Business Banking, Barclays

Rand served in the British Army for 10 years before moving to JP Morgan and then Barclays, becoming CEO of its business banking arm in 2016. Now he’s leading the charge for gender parity. Rand joined the Barclays UK D&I council just over a year ago and has been the force behind two key initiatives: the ‘Barclays UK Women to Watch’ and ‘Career Progression PODS’ for mid-level female managers. He recently took part in the Women and the Workplace: Separating Myths from Reality event at Bloomberg’s London headquarters. Barclays is a founding member of the United Nations HeForShe campaign.


Russ Shaw
Founder, Tech London Advocates

Shaw is the former VP of Skype, an angel investor and the founder of Tech London Advocates, a network of more than 5,700 tech leaders, designed to champion London as a world-class tech hub. He’s also a serial Agent of Change, campaigning to increase diversity in the sector, setting up the TLA Women in Tech group (2,000 members and counting) and producing a ‘Diversity in Tech’ manifesto – a call to industry on the diversity crisis facing the capital’s tech scene. TLA launched the AAA Award for Gender Diversity last year.

@RussShaw1 ?

Karl Simpson
CEO, Liftstream

Since founding life-sciences executive search recruitment firm Liftstream in 2004, Simpson has taken strides to transform biotech boardrooms. Last year, Liftstream published two big research studies – A Public Reality for Women in Biotech Boardrooms and Opening the Path to a Diverse Future – to expose the startling low proportion of women in the sector and to tackle the challenges. Simpson advises industry trade associations on their diversity strategies and last year co-hosted the Biopharma Boardroom Diversity conference with MedCity, an initiative set up by the Mayor of London to promote life sciences in the region. Simpson is a member of the Women’s Business Council.


Chris Stylianou
COO, UK & Ireland, Sky

Stylianou isn’t just Sky’s COO, he’s its main manbassador. As the executive sponsor of Sky’s Women in Leadership (WiL) programme, Stylianou is leading the company to reach its target of a 50:50 gender balance. He launched a programme which has upskilled 445 high-potential women, introduced a six-month development programme for women in home service roles, started a Women in Tech scholarship which offers three young women £25,000 funding and mentoring to develop their own tech project, and personally sponsors six women. ‘Why should men be Agents of Change? It’s maths. There are way more men in senior roles. They have the power, they have the influence, they need to lead from the front,’ he says.


James Taylor
CEO Healthcare, Sodexo UK & Ireland

Taylor’s first job was washing dishes. Now he’s the chief executive of Sodexo UK and Ireland’s healthcare business, heading up 7,000 employees at 100 NHS and private healthcare sites. He’s a founding member of Sodexo’s Diversity Leadership Council, which heavily contributed to Sodexo being ranked as one of the top 10 companies for diversity by DiversityInc for the last nine consecutive years. Globally, women comprise half of Sodexo’s board of directors and 30% of the top 1,400 Sodexo managers, with a target of increasing this to 40% by 2025. Last year, Taylor was a keynote speaker at Sodexo’s annual Women Work conference and at Northern Power Women Awards in Manchester.


Roger Whiteside
CEO, Greggs

Whiteside heads up Newcastle-based Greggs, the £960m-turnover high-street bakery chain beloved for its sausage rolls and steak bakes. Employing more than 21,000 people, this retail veteran is committed to supercharging female talent. Almost half of the company’s management population, a quarter of its most senior retail managers and 43% of its board are women. And Greggs runs a female career development programme to help more to the top. ‘Employing a diverse range of people, reflecting the communities and customers we serve, isn’t only good for business, but it’s the right thing to do,’ says Whiteside, a two-time Agent of Change.


Mark Wilson
CEO, Aviva

Wilson runs Aviva, the country’s largest insurer. He was the first FTSE 100 CEO to sign up to the 30% Club’s gender diversity commitment – a goal Aviva has already achieved ahead of the 2020 target. Last year Wilson received the Women’s Business Council award for the ‘Men as Change Agents’ and was named as a leading ‘ally executive’ in the FT’s OUTstanding list. Aviva runs unconscious bias training and a Women in Leadership programme, and recently announced a new parental leave policy to help remove barriers to career progression; parents are now eligible to the same amount of paid and unpaid time off. In the UK, this is up to one year of leave, of which 26 weeks is at full basic pay. ‘I want to live in a world where the only criteria for success is someone’s talent, not their gender,’ says Wilson. ‘Treating parents equally will help make this happen.’

@avivaplc ?

Image credit: Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images