Views from the top and helping young women get there


Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE, an Inspiring Women volunteer, talks about her own life experiences and going into schools with the programme.

Over 30 years ago when I started my business there was no ‘Inspiring the Future’ campaign which may have given me the jump start I needed. Back in the 80’s I started my business despite what I call, a triple whammy. First it was rare to have a woman running her own business, secondly and rarer still, was to see a black woman running her own business and then the final piece of the triple whammy conundrum was to have a black woman with her own business running a PR company. How very dare she! But I did.

I embarked on the same challenges when I was invited to become a founding Director of Choice FM, the UK’s first legally black owned radio station, now known as Capital Xtra. During the next 15 years of the station I was the only woman on a board of nine. I was a minority within the minorities. A very lonely place to be. However this gave me an insight of things to come, and prepared me for the numerous public and private sector Boards, that I sat on as the only woman and invariably the only minority. That remains true up to today.

Thank heavens things have changed exponentially since the 1980’s. The physical, and psychological barriers of women in business have been swiped aside by the new emerging, energetic and fearless generation of women who are now taking the world by storm. There are no barriers that cannot be overcome in this digital age, as we’ve seen with the young women now standing to make their mark in history across the world.
My involvement with ‘Inspiring the Future’ and the young minds at schools across London, not only allows me to give back to young women, things I learned along the way, but it gives me something too. The feedback I receive provides me with an external validation that what I have been doing is exactly what is needed, both by young people and by potential employers. Today’s young people have a way of being very direct. If they appreciate what you are doing they let you know and if they don’t they have their own way of letting you know that too.
Whilst visiting the schools and academies during this campaign, you can’t help getting caught up in the energy of those future leaders It provides me with a compelling image of the future and it is important that this energy continues to be nurtured and guided by initiatives such as ‘Inspiring Women’.
With the Women on Boards campaign enjoying such a high profile, we need to sustain this momentum to encourage more mentors that demonstrate to young women that it is possible to have aspirations to reach the heights of the corporate world that was previously the fiefdom of men. More and more women are attaining and exceeding their aspirations, and there should be no barriers if this is the trajectory they want to take.
In my book ”7 Traits of Highly Successful Women on Boards – Views from the top and how to get there” I interviewed 22 real models, not role models; women at the top on boards who share their tips, advice, traits, and how to overcome challenges on their journey, breaking down boardroom barriers that face future women leaders.
Miriam Gonzalez Durantes who is a champion of the Inspiring Women campaign says in the foreword; “7 Traits of Highly Successful Women on Boards is the book that most women on their way to the top should have by their bedside table”. If you have any notion that there is not enough young women coming through the corporate talent pool, get involved with the ‘Inspiring Women’ campaign, play your part and lend a hand to guide them in the right direction.
Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE is the Author of,”7 Traits of Highly Successful Women on Boards – Views from the top and how to get there”. Email:


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