More from this series

Pamela Permalloo-Bass

Meet Pamela Permallo-Bass Head of Equality & Diversity at Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust

In Conversation With…

Hilary Carty

Meet the business Dynamo that is Hilary Carty! Hilary is a dynamic and compelling game changer in the field of business consultancy and coaching. Be Inspired! 

You've had a diverse and rewarding career, based on where you are now, do you think that the challenges for women in business are greater, lesser or just different?

That’s quite a complex issue and it’s important to acknowledge the strides have been made in certain sectors.  So the FTSE 100 did not quite meet Lord Davies’ target of 25% women on its Boards by April 2015, but the outcome of 23.5% is still a doubling of the figure from 2011. And that’s a significant, tangible outcome.  Also tangible, is the increased awareness of the gender debate in the workplace; so it is certainly easier now to speak of pay inequality, everyday sexism, or biased recruiting.  But, as with much of the ‘equality’ or ‘diversity’ debates, it is important to discern passion from commitment.  Whilst the former allows bold statements and an expressed desire for change, the more challenging commitment to change is not always evident and that, for me is what is often lacking.  So I acknowledge that the context is different, and indeed, better; but we still have a way to go before the challenges for women in business simply match those of our male counterparts.

As a coach, what would you say is one the most challenging/ popular concerns brought to you by female clients?

I’ve coached a range of women across the years and individuals deal differently with circumstances and opportunity, but some of the most common concerns relate to managing career progression and juggling work-life-balance priorities.  In many instances, the two issues intertwine and women feel the pressure to make a more stark set of choices than might be strictly necessary.  For me, it’s not so much about ‘having it all’ but rather giving oneself the permission to be creative with the solutions that keep work and life in balance.  So whether it’s flexible working, re-casting the job priorities across a team or negotiating the 3.20pm Parent’s Meeting so that it’s less intrusive in your day, the big challenge is losing the guilt and gaining the confidence to try it differently and create a better fit.  It’s a negotiation rather than a demand but… always worth ‘The ask’.  


Hilary, in your view how can women overcome the feelings related to concepts like 'Imposter Syndrome'?

With Imposter Syndrome, we return to the issue of confidence, the nagging internal kind that saps energy and eats away at one’s conviction. It’s not easy to overcome, but we can work to reduce its impact by spotting its particular shape and form, noticing the circumstances that bring on the syndrome.  Then take early action to reduce its hold.  I like the impact of simple affirmations – positive statements that accentuate the positive and motivate for action.  Randomly dotted through notebooks, on the noticeboard or the desk… these incidental ‘messages-to-self’ can be quite effective even as you smile in recognition of their purpose.

In your business life, what would you say has been your biggest learning experience?

One of the joys of coaching is the space it affords to review, reflect and then to adjust.  Learning the tools of reflection has been really valuable and proves its worth time and time again.  So, for me, it’s not so much the incidents themselves (though I’ve certainly learned from those), but more so the process for putting challenges under the microscope and extracting the learning from the good, the bad and the unexpected that life throws my way. 

And your greatest/proudest achievement to date?

I find the ‘est’ words really hard to answer because they ask for a definitive and I can always think of two or three responses, then worry that I’ve missed something important ……. I’ll skip that one!

Do you think that your parents / upbringing have influenced the leader that you have become?

There’s no doubt that my family and upbringing have had a huge influence on the leader I am today.  When I think of my parents arriving in the UK from the Caribbean and having to create a new life, it’s a great motivation to meet new challenges head on; and also to reach for compassion before anger – the insights give you a better range of responses to any situation.

What behaviour of yours would you like to get rid of?

Impatience!  I have to work hard at this one so it takes a lot of energy.  I wish I could just get rid of it all together.  There I go – being impatient with impatience!  

What quality/behaviour would you like to have/develop?

I would love to have a better memory for facts and figures.  I look with envy at people who reel off one statistic after another whilst I scribble down frantically in the hope that I might at least remember where I wrote the notes! 

Where do you stand on the debate over whether leaders are born or made?

As so much of my work, both in the UK and in Europe, is in the development and nurturing of leaders and leadership skills, I’m definitely on the ‘made’ side of the debate.  It’s important to look at both at the individual and the context, when consider leadership; and also to encourage flexibility.

If you were designing a syllabus for a new leadership program what would you include?

In today’s environment leadership is required in a range of circumstances and from an eclectic range of people – so a good understanding of your leadership strengths and challenges is hugely helpful.  For me it’s important to blend the theories, skills and approaches with idea generation and approaches to innovation.

Hilary if you were giving a 'TED talk' to a global audience of young women, what is the one idea you'd want them to takeaway ?

I would want young women to be inspired to value themselves and their contribution to society highly and to encourage others to do the same.

Thank you Hilary Carty

You can contact Hilary at co-creatives.co.uk AND she is the compere for TEDxWhitehallWomen on May 29th! See you there!