Leaders Making a Difference 2024 Report

Published on May 8, 2024

Through their personal narratives, these exceptional women serve as role models and mentors for those seeking to enhance their careers and make a positive impact in their chosen fields. We dig deep into the practical business techniques and skills they employ, such as leveraging technology and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. These real-world insights provide a wealth of actionable concepts and strategies that we can all learn from and use in our professional lives.

We hope this initiative gives a fresh perspective and acts as a source of inspiration and encouragement to those women looking to improve the lives of colleagues and communities through best business practices. We believe that by sharing these stories and strategies, we can collectively transform businesses from good to great, fostering a more inclusive and successful professional landscape.

It's only by connecting and listening to each other's challenges and successes, no matter how small that we will transform businesses from good to great.

The panellists

In compiling this report, we conducted in-depth interviews between December 2023 and March 2024.

We gained valuable insights and thoughts from our expert panellists, all working in senior leadership roles across a range of industries and regions.

We have great pleasure in introducing each of them below.

Click on each photo to read the interviews.

Top 5 themes

#1. Transforming safety habits

The visibility of leaders talking about safety and showing they care is crucial. To transform safety culture, we all need to find the magic key that unlocks the door to safety as a force for good. Leveraging the latest technology can help us make advancements in traditional safety management.

#2. Breaking down barriers

Never underestimate people's willingness to grasp the broader picture and acknowledge the significance of their contributions within the larger context. The right company culture helps underpin a resilient team spirit, particularly when hardships and challenges appear. Good leaders learn continuously, exchange ideas with people, focus on value and are open to new ideas.

#3. Fostering responsible business practices

Diversity and equal opportunities for all employees cultivate a more inclusive workplace culture. This not only enhances employee satisfaction and productivity but also strengthens our resilience as an organisation. In the search for more responsible business solutions, companies are increasingly looking to gain a competitive edge, particularly through the use of technology and innovation.

#4. Strengthening sustainability initiatives

Sustainability initiatives must be credible in the eyes of all stakeholders, and accountability must be a high priority. It is essential to have the flexibility to pivot as your value chain and macroeconomic environment evolve. It's okay to approach sustainability from different perspectives. We must remain respectful that companies and industries can be on different journeys.

#5. Managing impacts

Face challenges head-on and adjust strategies accordingly. It's also important to listen – a lot of co-creation can be achieved by really listening to all stakeholders so that impacts are identified and understood across the business. Companies need to improve their understanding of the positive effects of safety on performance.

What's next

While safety, sustainability and operational issues continue to dominate the business landscape, are we now at a crossroads where a fresh approach is necessary? To remain relevant, companies should review these key business functions and assess what alternative approaches and trends should be taken into account.

Joining the dots
The arrival of sustainability as a critical business issue sheds new light on the need to remove business function silos. As we learn from the thoughts and ideas of our female leaders, there is a vital connection between business functions. Applying a best practice approach to keeping people safe and healthy, caring for the environment and local communities, and aiming for operational excellence all work towards the same outcome; a thriving company. Success in one area is no longer enough. Companies must take a more holistic approach and join the dots between all three functions to improve the long-term outlook.

Harnessing technology
Technology and digitalisation are no longer optional in today's business world. Machine learning and artificial intelligence have increased the choice and pace at which technology can now achieve goals. However, there are different stages of maturity within the business landscape. Safety and operations already use many technological tools to improve programmes and processes. In contrast, the technology to drive forward sustainability is still in its early stages. As well as continuing to explore a rapidly changing landscape, companies should not overlook any overlap in technology and digitalisation that can be adapted and applied across all three functions.

Putting people first
People are the lifeblood of any company. But how many companies have yet to walk the talk and truly put people first? While safety records are seen as a proxy for a company that cares for its employees, the arrival of sustainability means companies are now more widely scrutinised on how they treat their workforce, those in the value chain and local communities. Putting people before profits is not a natural or easy transition for businesses. However, companies that can point to enriched health and safety programmes, strive for operational excellence, and are on the way to building a pathway to a more sustainable business model will gain a competitive edge.

As we look forward, businesses must have the flexibility and resilience to pivot solutions and ideas to embrace new opportunities and face the inevitable challenges ahead. Those companies that support a holistic approach, harness technology and put people first will be in the best position to achieve long-term success.