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Susan Taylor Martin: From conversation to action #TRChangeMakers

Susan Taylor Martin

March 08 2017

The reality is that if we want to see sustained change in the gender makeup of the leadership of our organizations, we have to focus on making sure women progress through the executive ranks.”

We recently spoke with Susan Taylor Martin, president of the Thomson Reuters Legal business, and executive sponsor of the global #TRChangeMakers campaign. Launched in London in 2016, the #TRChangemakers campaign aims to galvanize action across industries by having individuals publicly commit to addressing the lack of women in senior executive roles globally and focus on the development of the female talent pipeline. As part of Susan’s commitment, 2017 will be the year #TRChangeMakers goes global: with two events planned in New York and Hong Kong, this will be the year that conversations will start turning into action.


Susan Taylor Martin: A very happy International Women’s Day to you all!

I wanted to take advantage of today to talk about a cause that I care passionately about, and to share a commitment that I am making to advance that cause in the year ahead:

Last year we held our inaugural Thomson Reuters Change Makers Summit in London. We brought together key leaders from businesses, professional services organizations and government to galvanize individuals to make commitments and take action to improve the gender balance at the top of our organizations.

The Change Makers Summit embodied a desire by many of the individuals and companies attending to move things forward: to focus less on the business case for gender diversity, and more on what we can actually do to achieve that diversity.

In the words of Elvis Presley …“A little less conversation, a little more action please” …

The group of individuals we assembled, on panels and in the audience, represented a high calibre ‘think-tank’ that was well placed to bring forward ideas, insights and strategies to help address the gender imbalance we see at the top of many organizations.

We were fortunate to have Dame Helen Alexander, the Chair of UBM PLC and the Chair of the Thomson Reuters Founders Share Company, as well as Alison Brittan, CEO of Whitbread, among others take part in a series of interactive panel discussions. Dame Helen and Alison both played an important part in the Hampton Alexander Review, an independent review body in the UK that was launched last year with the express aim of improving female representation in senior leadership ranks.

The reality is that if we want to see sustained change in the gender makeup of the leadership of our organizations, we have to focus on making sure women progress through the executive ranks.

And the Hampton Alexander Review is urging organizations to ensure that at least a third of their board members and critically their executive leadership roles, so executive committees and their direct reports, are held by women by 2020.

This imperative came across loud and clear during the Change Makers Summit. We heard that elevating women in business has to be fundamentally connected with an organization’s strategic goals. And I am encouraged by the actions taken by our guest speakers on a number of fronts; including their commitment to publishing diversity and inclusion targets and the value placed on sponsorship and reverse-mentoring programs.

#TRChangeMakers Event in London

If we want to pick up the pace of change then we must galvanize more people to take action.

Each of the attendees was encouraged to leave the event with at least one concrete action that they committed to take – whether that was at a personal level, or on behalf of their organizations. Knowing that by simply writing down a goal you are 42% more likely to achieve it, we encouraged attendees to capture their commitments and share it on their social or firm networks.

I personally committed to ensuring that at Thomson Reuters we publish our senior gender diversity targets and our progress towards those targets. I have also committed to take the energy created at the Change Makers Summit in London and turn #TRChangeMakers into a global campaign.

Thing one is done, Jim Smith [President and Chief Executive Officer, Thomson Reuters], has announced our gender diversity targets at a leadership level and where we stand. In the spirit of what gets measured gets done, it’s fantastic that we have this transparency.

We are announcing our next Change Makers summits – in New York and Hong Kong in October 2017. Thank you to Eileen Lynch, Shan Kelly, Tina Allen, and Felice Tobin for their passion and commitment and drive to making Change Makers a reality. Through the wonders of technology we want to open those meetings to all of you who are also passionate about moving us forward!

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