International Women’s Day celebrations

The IPA are proud to have strong female representation amongst Office Holders, the Board and the Secretariat Senior Leadership Team and are proud to celebrate the power that women bring to our organisation and the insolvency sector.

To celebrate Internatonal Women’s Day, we’ve been shining the spotlight on leading female insolvency figures on our social media channels, hearing their reflections on IWD and what it means to them. In case you missed them, you can read them below.

Samantha Keen

IPA President (2022-2023)

UK&I Legal Entity Rationalisation Leader and UK&I Strategy and Transactions COO, EY

Historically, the field of insolvency has been male-dominated, and women have faced barriers to entry, recognition and promotion.

Having worked in the insolvency sector for more than 30 years, I am pleased to say that there has been progress towards greater gender equality in recent years, with more women entering the field and taking on senior roles and leadership positions. But the profession still has work to do. Women bring valuable skills and perspectives to the field of insolvency, such as strong communication, listening skills and empathy. Additionally, diversity of thought, social background and experience can lead to more innovative and effective solutions to complex insolvency issues. We therefore need to embrace equity and seek to remove barriers to progression for all individuals, recognising what each person brings to the table. On 8 March 2023, we can take the opportunity to focus that attention on women. It is essential for the sector to continue working towards greater gender equality and inclusivity to ensure that women have equal opportunities to succeed and contribute to the field of insolvency.

I would like to thank all the people who came before me who have supported me in my career to this day. I will continue to #embraceequity and help other individuals navigate the world of insolvency.

Yin Lee

IPA Deputy Vice-President

Director, Restructuring & Recovery Services, Evelyn Partners

It is with great honour to say that I am a British South East Asian woman in the field of insolvency. As someone who comes from a culturally rich background, I am proud to bring a unique perspective to the industry and the challenges that come with it.

Being a woman in insolvency comes with its own set of obstacles. The industry can often be dominated by outdated perspectives, which can lead to misunderstandings and biases. I have found that it is not uncommon for individuals to assume that I may not have the necessary experience or knowledge to handle complex matters.

I believe that my background and experiences have given me a valuable advantage in the industry, such as a strong emphasis on discipline, hard work, drive and motivation, which are all essential qualities for success in the field of insolvency.

It is well-known that the profession is not diverse, and it is important for the industry to recognise and address these challenges to work towards creating a more equitable environment for all professionals, regardless of their gender, identity or background.

As the current Deputy Vice-President of the IPA, I am proud to be in a position to have a seat at the table and to make a positive impact. Let us continue to embrace diversity and recognise the value that it brings to the industry.

Arabella Ranby-Gorwood

Corporate Insolvency Practitioner, CRG Insolvency & Financial Recovery

IPA Awards 2022 Rising Star of the Year

To me, being a woman is about being human, being myself unapologetically and learning to be strong despite weaknesses. Although gender is part of anyone’s identity, it should never restrict ambition. For me, it’s about striving for your own goals whilst supporting others along the way. We have the imagination to dream, create and invent, whilst having the heart to love and be brave. Women are all unique, and that’s the beauty of it.

Women can be powerful and assertive, yet kind at the same time. Being compassionate in insolvency is not a weakness; in fact it can be a strength. We’re always striving for our own end goals on cases, with much adversity encountered along the way, but it’s vital to be courageous and push yourself to your full potential. Often ‘women’s instinct’ means having the intuition to see and understand things beyond the surface, and it’s imperative to take hold of those thoughts to deliver the best outcomes.

This quote by Kavita Ramdas is very inspiring:

“We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free”.

I take pride and hope in saying that I don’t think there’s ever been a greater time for women.

Francesca Tackie

Managing Director, Mercury Corporate Recovery Solutions

IPA Awards 2022 Diversity & Inclusion Champion

I believe that we have made great strides in the UK in terms of gender equality and this is clearly reflected in the relative gender balance there appears to be in the insolvency profession, as highlighted in the recent survey carried out by the Insolvency Diversity Steering Group. That said, it is clear that there are still gender imbalances, for example in terms of matters such as the promotion of women to more senior positions in the workplace and also gender equality and parity with men in terms of pay. Women who have managed to achieve their ambitions in the insolvency profession are role models for the next generation and it’s important for us to encourage and empower other women to be able to do the same.

International Women’s Day is important to me as a means of keeping these conversations alive and highlighting and celebrating the advancements and achievements of women in business and other walks of life, whilst also recognising the ongoing challenge and struggle faced by many women and girls to achieve gender equity, not just here in the UK but globally.

Louise Brittain

Partner, Restructuring & Insolvency, Azets

IPA Awards 2022 Insolvency Professional of the Year (Large Firm)

For me, the power of being a woman in the insolvency sector is about two things: the work – it’s brilliant and I love it, and the amazing women I am so proud to call my friends.

To survive in this male-dominated and extremely robust insolvency world, you have to made of tough stuff. The women who survive and excel in this profession have a deep seated drive to succeed against all the odds. They are the most resilient, interesting, clever, hard working group of ladies I have ever met, and it is a privilege to work alongside them.

As a group, we are a sisterhood. We support each other, promote each other, care for each other and look after each other. It’s an unbreakable bond and it makes all the struggles worthwhile. You will not find a more genuine, caring group of fantastic women in any other profession and it is what for me makes all the prejudices bearable and frankly irrelevant. We will succeed no matter what, and do a much better job along the way!

Frances Coulson

Partner, Head of Insolvency & Restructuring, Wedlake Bell

IPA Awards 2022 winner: Outstanding Contribution to the Profession

In my early career I used to avoid events and promotions specifically aimed at or limited to women, feeling that it might sideline us, but these days I see the value in female networks, mentoring and mutual support, not least because what women need is confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Insolvency has, perhaps more than most areas of the professions, been heavily male (and non-ethnic) dominated, partially because the age of entry into the profession tended to be higher in terms of qualification, partially because the old meetings regime was something of a boys’ club, and partially because a lot of the work and networks emanated from financial institutions which were themselves then male dominated. It is edifying to see this changing. We have some amazing women in the profession now, and so many fantastic younger women coming through. We can do better in ethnic diversity, but I do think some of this changes slowly because no one seems to actively aim to enter the insolvency profession, most come into it by happenstance. We can change that. It is an amazing area of law and accountancy and a dynamic field of corporate and personal work.

A 2022 Cambridge University study found that women around the world had better cognitive empathy than men. Insolvency involves people and businesses in distress. Empathy is hugely valuable. We aren’t better than men at everything, but we can bring additional different skills and we should embrace diversity of recruitment to enable delivery of the best breadth of solutions. A 2019 piece of research published in the Harvard Law Review showed that women are rated better than men on key leadership capabilities – according to an analysis of thousands of 360-degree reviews, women outscored men on 17 of the 19 capabilities that differentiate excellent leaders from average or poor ones. There will be research that shows that men are better at things than women. What I do think is true about women more than men is that we need to believe in ourselves and support younger entrants to the profession.