Today is International Women’s Day. It’s a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year, the theme is #EmbraceEquity, encouraging discussion about why equal opportunities aren’t enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.
Equity isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every workplace’s DNA.
Today we celebrate the extraordinary female talent here at Napier, and while we salute every one of our women colleagues, we focus on the talent and achievement of just one.
Introducing …our global head of transformation and strategic initiatives
Delia Coggan has become more passionate about eliminating gender bias and promoting equitable and non discriminatory practices in the workplace as her career has progressed.
“Women make up more than half of the working population, yet unfortunately there are still too many examples of gender pay gaps and inadequate representation in leadership positions. Organisations which support their female employees through career path planning and mentorship opportunities, and which are transparent about pay and promotions, will be more successful at addressing the imbalance.”
Delia joined the ranks of talented Napier women nearly three years ago. “Over my time here at Napier, I have been in the privileged position to build the Global Professional Services department up from a small team of six people to the size it is today. I am proud that we have hired many strong talented women into the team - a successful client facing team which is achieving its goals and objectives.”
An Oxford graduate with a degree in Chemistry, she seems faintly surprised when asked if she was in a minority at school studying science. “Now I come to think of it, I was the only girl studying physics in my 6th form class,” she says. “There were no positive discrimination initiatives to redress the gender balance, but ultimately, the numbers don’t lie. When I applied to Oxford, I came in the top 30 in the whole cohort of applicants, and that’s why I got in.”
She is now a trustee for her college’s Development Fund. The college didn’t even accept women until 1975. “It was an all-male Board until I joined along with another woman. Like many other organisations, the Fund had come to realise that diversity in leadership can only be a good thing.”
Delia’s career has taken her from major blue chip organisations in London to Hong Kong, where she lived for over five years working for Morgan Stanley as an Executive Director. In her time in Asia, she had a seat on the Asia Operating Risk Committee and the Hong Kong crisis management team, and she led the Sarbanes Oxley implementation for the region. She was also a committee member on the Hong Kong British Chamber Financial Industry Group. Her experience encompasses IT strategy and regulatory change management, business planning for expansion and efficiency, talent management and training. It’s a wide portfolio and matches the capabilities of someone who clearly isn’t fazed by taking on a challenge.
“It’s important to invest in developing a network,” she says. “And if you can’t find one that suits you, you have to put your hand up and create your own. It’s equally important to promote yourself. So many women rely on doing a great job, expecting to be noticed and rewarded. Unfortunately, it rarely happens. You have to believe in yourself, come up with ideas, put them into practice and be visible – and then don’t be frightened to put your hand up for the next opportunity.”
So has her career success come as the result of the sponsorship of female mentors?
“I chose a woman to be my research supervisor at university – our specialist interests overlapped and she opened up some really exciting opportunities for me, including asking me to help run an inaugural Women in Science day, to promote STEM subjects and careers to girls. But I’ve had male mentors too – people who have recognised my ambition and encouraged me to take on challenging and interesting roles. I wouldn’t be without my women networks though – they’re a supportive environment where you can bounce ideas off trusted colleagues and peers.”
“Things have changed for women in science and technology over the course of my career,” she says. “We can’t be complacent, but there’s lots to be proud of, and much to hope for with the new generation coming through.”
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