This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter – a call-to-action driving gender balance across the world. In recognition of this issue, Bupa’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Joy Linton, joined colleagues across Bupa to discuss the importance of diversity. Topics ranged development programmes at Bupa, the role that both men and women play in supporting career progression for their teams, and Joy’s personal career journey.
Joy’s personal experience
“Growing up on a farm in the hot and dusty plains of northern Victoria in Australia, I could not possibly have imagined that I would one day be global Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Bupa.
At Bupa, we are proud of our diversity. Every day I see talented women contributing, growing and leading our organisation. I also see an inclusive organisation that aims to welcome people from all backgrounds, and help people to bring their whole selves to work.
But we need to keep being flexible in our approach, appreciating different styles and ways of thinking, and giving every person the opportunity to be their best. And of course, the more diverse we are as an organisation, the more we reflect the diverse nature of our customers.
More than 70% of Bupa is health insurance. Thinking about the finance function, this means we are part of the financial services sector in all the countries we operate. To formalise our support, I was really pleased that Bupa signed up to the UK Treasury’s Women in Finance charter last year and continues to be a supporter of the 30% Club, a campaign to increase women in senior roles.
#BalanceforBetter is just not a ‘women’s issue’. When I think about my own journey, many of the most pivotal moments featured men.
I think about my dad, who was so committed to giving me the education he never had.
I think about the male leader, who 20 years ago was open-minded and supportive of me returning to work from maternity leave part-time - long before this was the ‘done’ thing or even a consideration of HR policy.
I think about the male boss who 10 years ago, offered me the opportunity of my first CFO role when I was returning from a 12-month break from work.
I think of my husband, who is a huge supporter of my career. He worked part-time himself when our children were young and then has been comfortable with me being the main breadwinner of the family. To this day he continues to do my tax return!
All these men (and there are many more), are agents for change and champions of women. They are an important part of how we will collectively encourage and sponsor women to progress their careers in flexible ways that work for them and their families.
At Bupa I am privileged to work with a number of senior women, so I have the benefit of ‘women supporting women’ as well. While we have a number of women in senior management roles and Board positions, there is still a lot to do to grow female representation, particularly in general and middle management. So whether it is sponsorship, support, encouragement, flexibility or recruitment. A key part is empowering managers with support and guidance on how they can make this achievable and fair for individuals, as well as the wider team.
For me, helping every person to progress is about all of us - men and women, we all have a role in advocating for diversity, facilitating flexibility, and encouraging each other to keep developing our business and leadership skills to be the best we can be.”