Female boss: Take a look at the leaders taking London by storm

30 July 2019

Holding diversity and inclusion at the core of all business strategies and policies is integral to promoting a positive and forward-thinking workplace. To ensure that equal opportunities are supported throughout an organisation, it can be uplifting to demonstrate equality and gender balance from the most senior positions, to create a wide-ranging, well-balanced and diverse workforce.

Here at Audeliss, we have taken a look at five of the most prominent female leaders in business today, who are evidencing their contribution to increasing the visibility and representation of senior women in business.


Melanie Richards
With experience in the banking sector spanning more than three decades, Richards is Deputy Chair of KPMG, a leading professional services organisation. Her rise to this position in the autumn of 2017 marked a pivotal moment in the career of her now 19-years of service for the company.

Richard’s commitment to incorporating diversity through her senior position is wide-ranging and evident in several different capacities. Most notably, Richards sits on the advisory board for the 30% Club, which seeks to promote growth through diversity and encourage gender equality in the C-suite to foster strong governance and leadership values.

She is also KPMG’s senior sponsor for inclusion and diversity and leads a range of women’s business networking pathways, including promoting KPMG’s ‘Return to Work’ programme, which supports women who are returning to work after a lengthy break.

Karen Blackett

Appointed an OBE in 2014 for her services to media and communications, Blackett has worked in the industry for the entirety of her professional career. She is the Chair of MediaCom UK, where she has held the role for over three years.

As a significant moment in her senior professional career, Blackett was appointed as race equality business champion by former Prime Minister Teresa May in October 2018. This position forms part of the Race at Work Charter, which will promote forward-thinking towards race equality in the workplace.

As an influential woman in business, Blackett has appeared in several publications, cited as ‘one to watch’. This includes being voted by Management Today as one of the most powerful women under 35 in the UK, as well as featuring on the UK’s most influential black women list five times. Her drive and determination to support other women in business is inherently evident in the work she does for the industry.


Leena Nair

Leena Nair is the Chief HR Officer at Unilever, holding this position for three years, after working her way up the board since joining the organisation in 1992. During her current 27-year Unilever career, Nair has served as the Global Head of diversity for the company, playing a vital role in addressing and changing the way the diversity agenda was promoted.

Significantly, Nair is the first female and youngest every CHRO of Unilever. This is an incredible achievement for her, and for women looking to her for guidance and inspiration.


Emma Codd

Recently assuming the position of Global Special Advisor on Inclusion at Deloitte, Codd’s role includes embedding inclusion company-wide. Codd is also a partner in Deloitte Forensic, where her role focuses on advising and leading teams in the financial services risk sector.

Her contribution to diversity and inclusion throughout her career at Deloitte has been meaningful and progressive. In particular, Codd was a loud voice in ensuring early reporting of the gender pay gap in 2015 and the ethnicity pay gap in 2017.

Codd was listed in the Financial Times HERoes list in both 2017 and 2018, and most recently, named in the top 50 LGBT+ Allies by OUTstanding in 2019.


Ann Cairns

Cairns is an incredibly prominent figure in business around the world. Recently becoming Co-Chair of the 30% Club, Cairns’ professional career sees her in the role of Executive Vice Chairman at Mastercard. She focuses on the future of payments and the rise of the financial technology sector as well as using her senior position to address and embrace inclusion, diversity and innovation and bring this to the forefront of conversation within Mastercard and their internal policies.

The notion of financial inclusion is embedded in the work that Cairns carries out, ensuring she can promote better pathways for women seeking access to financial products and services globally. Her responsibilities and awareness of the importance of inclusion initiatives is invaluable to a society working to deliver equality within the workplace.

Cairns is an active public speaker and draws upon the experiences of her professional career to advise and support women.