March 10, 2014 06:43 ET

JK Rowling Voted UK's Most Inspirational Woman Who Works as Survey Highlights What It Takes to Succeed

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwired - March 10, 2014) - In a poll commissioned by Nationwide Building Society to mark International Women's Day, Harry Potter author JK Rowling has been voted the UK's most inspirational woman who works. Other inspirational women mentioned in the list include: Karren Brady - Football executive; freight company owner Hilary Devey; Shami Chakrabati, director of civil liberties organisation Liberty and charity leader Camila Batmanghelidjh.

The survey also asked women about their views on the most important attributes for an inspirational female manager at work. The results included:

  • Around seven in ten (71%) think leading by example is important.
  • More than two thirds (68%) say they should be hardworking.
  • Being a people person is valued by 62% of women.
  • 60% think intelligence is key to being inspirational.
  • Having a good work-life balance was selected by 57% of women
  • More than half selected being a good negotiator and overcoming adversity (51%).

The benefits of a balanced workforce were also showcased through the poll, as more than 2,000 men and women gave their views on the strengths of male and female managers at work. While many of the strengths were felt to be broadly similar, with the majority of both sexes agreeing there was no difference, there were a number of specific traits where there was agreement. These included:

  • Nearly four in ten (37%) believe women are more capable at managing multiple projects, while only 7% think men were more efficient.
  • More than one in five (27%) think women are better at looking after the interests and wellbeing of their staff. Just one in ten think men perform better.
  • Nearly half (45%) believe women are better at handling sensitive situations at work, with only 5% saying the same for men.

The poll comes ahead of the Awards for Excellence 2014 - an annual recognition event hosted by Opportunity Now, Business in the Community's gender equality campaign, and sponsored by Nationwide, where 67% of the workforce are women and 65% of managers are also female.

Tony Prestedge, Nationwide's Chief Operating Officer at Nationwide and a Board member of Opportunity Now, said: "Inspirational women are everywhere - whether that is in the public eye or within offices and boardrooms up and down the country. However, while there is no shortage of talent out there, we need to start seeing more talented women being taken on by companies.

"Having a diverse workforce is a business imperative to us at Nationwide - diversity encourages new ways of working, different approaches and a strong work culture. But it is not about just ticking boxes. Hiring more women must be about appointing those who are the best candidates for the job, while the right candidates need to be identified for promotion opportunities."

Kathryn Nawrockyi, Director of Opportunity Now, said: "This year's International Women's Day is all about inspiring change and celebrating women's achievements. Although there can often be a stereotypical view of 'women at the top', this survey shows that women's role models are actually incredibly diverse. It's also great to see that members of the public recognise the strength of having good female leaders in the workplace - although there is still a lack of women in senior roles.

"Today Opportunity Now has announced the shortlisted organisations for the 2014 Excellence in Practice Awards, who have worked to support women at all levels across a wide range of sectors. Their success in reaching the shortlists shows that increasing the representation of women within the workforce benefits not just the women themselves, but also the organisation and society as a whole. They are a great example of how to help the best people get the right jobs, irrespective of their gender, and I hope other organisations will learn from their good practice."

Notes to editors:

  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,071 adults of which 1,067 were females and 1,004 were males. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st - 24th February 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
  • Nationwide is the only financial services provider to be awarded Platinum status and a top ten place in the Opportunity Now (BITC's gender equality campaign) benchmark. It marks the second year in a row it has made the list.
  • The Society was selected to sponsor Opportunity Now's Awards for Excellence - the gender equality campaign from Business in the Community (BITC) - for the next three years, recognising our commitment to gender diversity.
  • Nationwide's commitment to gender diversity led to the mutual being named in The Times Top 50 Employer for Women 2013.
  • Eight out of ten employees return to work at nationwide following maternity leave.
  • 40 per cent of those taken on Nationwide's Next Generation Leader Programme and more than half of our Future Leader Programme have been female.
  • Nationwide demonstrated public leadership in the campaign for gender equality: in May 2013 the Society withdrew advertising on Facebook after it emerged its adverts had been posted on sites promoting violence against women.
  • Gender diversity has been championed by Nationwide through representation on the Opportunity Now programme board through Chief Operating officer Tony Prestedge.
  • Nationwide has an established diversity steering committee made up of senior executive representatives from across the business and has developed a Women's Network chaired by Alison Robb, Group Director and a member of the Executive Committee.
  • Nationwide has championed government schemes in support of equality for women including contributing to the Women's Business Council's inaugural report and signing up to the influential Think, Act Report.
  • The Society has also conducted Equal Pay Audits to drive equality in what we pay and support the Equal Opportunities Commission on closing the pay gap.

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the UK's largest building society as well as a top-three provider of household savings and mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million retail customers. Customers can manage their finances in a branch, on the telephone, internet and post.

Nationwide's head office is in Swindon, with an office in Threadneedle Street, London, and with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

About Opportunity Now

Opportunity Now is the workplace gender campaign from Business in the Community. Opportunity Now has defined three priorities that are critical to business in achieving the potential of people, teams and organisations. These are: a better gender balance for leadership progression; unbiased recognition and reward for all; and, agile work cultures that are fit for the future. For information about Opportunity Now's work on equality, diversity and inclusion please see

About Business in the Community

Business in the Community stands for responsible business. With a membership of over 850 companies, engagement in 10,700 organisations internationally and an employee reach of 14.7 million, Business in the Community is raising the benchmark for responsible business practice. We offer our members practical support to help them transform their businesses and integrate responsible practices into their operations. And we ask our members to work in partnership with us to help transform communities and tackle serious social issues where business can make a real difference. Business in the Community is one of the Prince's Charities, a group of not-for-profit organisations of which The Prince of Wales is President.

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