Report from Women into Leadership London 2016

A total of 600 delegates attended London's Women into Leadership event on 21 September, held at Central Hall in Westminster.

Aimed at helping women to reach their career potential through workshops, networking and hearing advice and tips from speakers in senior role, the event is organised and run by the FDA and Dods and chaired by FDA Vice President Fiona Eadie.

Chair and FDA Vice President Fiona Eadie

Chair and FDA Vice President Fiona Eadie opens Women into Leadership London 2016

This is the seventh year the event has been held, and is proving so popular it has now taken place in Edinburgh earlier this year, and is also being held in Leeds on 27 September. Find out more here.

Delegates heard speakers from a variety of backgrounds outline how they reached their leadership roles, including Scottish Government Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, journalist and women's advocate Harriet Minter, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Head of Campaigns and Engagement Ruth Shaw and Gender Equality Director at Business in the Community Kathryn Nawrockyi.

Newly-appointed Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Trade, Martin Donnelly, also shared how the Business department he recently headed learned to successfully achieve gender parity.

Scottish Government Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans

Scottish Government Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans shares how she has tried to develop 'a thick skin without... becoming insensitive'

Evans spoke how she "doesn't buy it" that senior women have not encountered sexism and outlined the importance of challenging things you don't agree with, adding "What you permit, you promote".

She added that "developing a thick skin without, I hope, becoming insensitive" and "finding ways to build physical and mental resilience" had helped her to reach Permanent Secretary level.

Donnelly told delegates that "leadership is about teamwork, which requires trust, which requires openness about who you are".

Outlining the importance of self-belief, Shaw shared how she feels "It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you are".

Harriet Minter, Kathryn Nawrockyi and Fiona Eadie

Journalist Harriet Minter, former Editor of the Guardian's Women in Leadership section, shares her advice for female leaders

Journalist Minter, who set up the Guardian's Women in Leadership section, shared the words "of a wise colleague: when in doubt, proceed until apprehended".

Nawrockyi showed tired images used in the media to illustrate women at work, which often focused on young white women frequently in very high heels. She said female senior leaders "should be prepared to be a thorn in people's side".

A more detailed report on both the London and Leeds events will be available in the autumn issue of Public Service Magazine.

Read our 2016 reports from Women into Leadership in Edinburgh and Leeds.