Dame Inga Beale

General Ambassador, 25X25

14 December 2021

Dame Inga Beale


Pathways to CEO

Dame Inga Beale

How did 25×25 come about?

A group of very senior women mainly from the world of finance, but also from other sectors, met for dinner.

As happens at dinner, you get talking about all sorts of topics and we realised at that time there weren’t enough female CEOs.

And we said right, we’ve got to do something about it. A couple of us said we’re going to take up the mantle; we’re going to get out there; and we’re going to start having conversations.

We started having conversations with some of the senior big recruitment firms, the search agencies, picking their brains to say: what’s happening? Why aren’t there enough female CEOs, particularly in the listed environment of the FTSE100.

And we determined that we had to do something about it and form 25×25, a real initiative spurred by women, but supported by corporates.

Why the 25×25 target?

We have aimed for 25 female CEOs in the FTSE100 by 2025. Now that is a pretty tough target, and we may not meet it.

As a female and an ex-CEO. I think about how many women make up the population. I say, well, why shouldn’t that be 50 female CEOs? But we actually want to aim, particularly when we’re working with the big corporations, at something that seems feasible. Because it’s a fairly short period of time, so 25×25.

We think we can get people galvanised around it. It’s not that big of a challenge. There are so many talented women around in the workplace in the corporate world. We know this is achievable, so we want it to be tough and yet achievable.

Why is 25×25 different?

There are huge pressures on organisations today. I would have said the talk now about ESG is hotter than ever. And in the discussions I have with investors, they now really want to see corporations taking action. And one of those is around what are you doing around your talent?

How many female leaders have you got? How many leaders of different ethnic backgrounds have you got?

That’s why this initiative is going to be one of the key supporters actually, because a lot of what 25×25 is doing, it’s going to be about providing data, tools, guidance, showing best practice.

It actually is beneficial for corporations as they battle through the challenges they have. We are one of their key supporters here.