Episode #30: Are women rewriting the rules?

The Green Room by Deloitte podcast

It’s a man’s world. Some people sing it. Others write about it. And some discuss it on their podcasts.

It might be said as a joke, out of sheer frustration, or even without much thought. But how true is it?

We’ve seen female leaders applauded for their responses to the global pandemic. Female activists driving the agenda on climate change, period poverty and everything in between. And laws being reformed in support of gender equality all around the world.

From politics to the boardroom, women are flipping the narrative that empathy and warmth indicate weakness. They’re telling other women looking up at them – if I can do it, you can do it too.

There’s lots to celebrate. And we’ve come so far. But there’s still lots to do.

We live in a world where more women are in poverty. Girls are more likely to drop out of school. And at work, women are less likely to be in leadership roles and subject to different rules.

There’s the big rules. Like when you reach the top. The pressure to pave the way. To not let other women down. To open doors and brings others up.

And the little ones. The everyday ones. The exhausting, do it all again tomorrow ones.

To dress a certain way. Wear just the right amount of make-up. To keep your personal life private, but successfully juggle home and work. To keep your emotions in check.

So what’s it like to break through into the spaces men dominate? How does it feel to be outnumbered? What can we learn from those who’ve done it? And why are there rules that need breaking anyway?

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we speak to Katie Houldsworth, Deloitte UK’s Women on Boards lead, and Suzie de Rohan Willner, CEO of Toast, to find out how women are writing their own narrative in the workplace and beyond.

Tune in to find out:

  • Why there’s more to success than just working hard
  • Who Katie's and Suzie’s female role models are
  • Why it’s important to speak up and claim your ideas
  • What rules our guests are rewriting


Katie Houldsworth
South East Public Audit group lead and Women on Boards lead, Deloitte UK

Katie is an audit partner and leader of our South East Public Audit group. She leads on a number of audits, and supports other audit partners in their delivery of high risk and complex audits. Katie also runs the Deloitte Women on Boards programme in the UK. In 2020 she was an individual winner of the Timewise Power 50 awards, celebrating how she makes a success of flexible working.

Suzie de Rohan Willner
CEO, Toast

Suzie is CEO of Toast - the retail brand that aspires to a slower, more thoughtful way of life. Suzie is specialised in Purpose Driven Leadership & Business Transformation. She was listed in the Kindness & Leadership 50 Leading Lights 2018 cohort. And is ambassador of Women of the Future and Asian Women of Achievement Awards

Further reading

If you’re interested in any of the topics we talked about during this episode, you might find the links below useful.

  • The Deloitte Academy Diversity on Boards Programmes - Deloitte offers two educational and networking programmes for senior women and BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) leaders with the ability and ambition to be considered for a Non-Executive Director position at a UK-listed company.
  • TOAST - the retail brand that aspires to a slower, more thoughtful way of life. Today, led by Suzie de Rohan Willner, TOAST creates and curates simple, functional, beautiful clothing, homeware and editorial.
  • Hampton-Alexander Review - improving gender balance in FTSE leadership - The Hampton-Alexander Review is an independent, business-led framework supported by the Government set recommendations in 2016 for FTSE 350 companies to improve the representation of women on their boards and in leadership positions.

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