Our Director of Growth and Engagement, Claire Fleming talks gender balance and how we are choosing to challenge.
I’m not sure what the outside perspective is on the gender demographics of the international risk sector but can hazard a guess that the majority of you would not anticipate a balanced gender landscape.
I’d like to show you something different, and while I can’t speak for the wider sector, I can proudly and positively tell you about our team here at AKE, and the natural balance we have achieved by seeking out the best person for the role, regardless of gender.
Today, my female colleagues make up 47% of our business, holding key strategic leadership and tactical roles across the business and supporting our clients from some of the most historically male-dominated industries and in the world’s toughest locations.
But, AKE has always been different and challenged convention.
I first joined the team at AKE back in 2003 – hired as the business’s first-ever Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Intelligence Analyst – one of a four-strong analytical team, and the only woman.
I was not an obvious choice for the role. My qualifications were relevant enough, but a 23-year-old, female Scot to cover the most hostile and active region of the globe at that time (and arguably still), to monitor and analyse the frequently horrific security environment in region? It was exciting, and I quickly learnt to build relationships with our multiple, experienced operational teams on the ground and build their confidence in me. I learnt how to brief government committees, advise some of the world’s largest media agencies, the Lloyd’s insurance market and the oil and gas sector.
Perhaps it was nativity (or the confidence of youth), but in my opinion the environment in which I worked meant that I never questioned my ability to deliver in that role; and I was the tip of the iceberg. The women who have joined the company since have helped to shape a unique business in our sector and have gone on to achieve amazing things both within the business and in their lives and careers after their time at AKE – you know who you are!
Returning to AKE to lead on growth and engagement last year, after spending several years working for energy and digital businesses, I (re)joined an organisation championing its team and with strong, capable women leading in critical functions and heading up regional desks including my beloved MENA desk, the Latin America desk, a geographical spread that will soon also include our Sub-Saharan Africa desk.
We will continue to select the best candidates when recruiting regardless of gender or any other erroneous means of definition, and we will continue to develop the strengths of the amazing individuals that are our team. We choose to challenge.