Harriet Minter – Editor of the Guardian’s Women in Leadership section


What motivates you?

Praise and a need to improve things. For a long-time I felt a bit ashamed of admitting to the first but I’ve had to get over that, it matters to me and that’s ok. On the second, I’m terrible for sticking my nose into other people’s business. If I see something I can help with, then I want to help. Sometimes that’s appreciated and sometimes it isn’t, I’ve had to learn to let the latter go.

What has been the biggest learning curve
 in your career?

Realising that just because I believe in something doesn’t mean everyone else will, and sometimes you just have to trust your gut and go for it. It might not make sense to everyone around you but if it feels right to you, do it. Setting up Women in Leadership took my career down a completely different path, if I’d done the practical thing it would never have existed and it certainly wouldn’t have lasted two years but I just had a feeling it was going to lead somewhere. Best decision I ever made.

What matters more, ambition or talent?

Ambition. I sometimes think natural talent actually makes us lazy, there’s nothing like a bit of grit and determination to make things happen.

What advice would you give to your 30 year old self?

Take the help. We think we have to do everything alone but that’s really not success. Do you think Oprah does everything herself?! Know what you’re good at and do that. Then delegate everything else.

Who do you admire?

So many people, I become a fan girl of pretty much everyone I meet. Some quick answers: Oprah (see above), Amy Schumer, Caitlin Moran, Sam Baker (founder and editor of The Pool).

In what place are you happiest?

By the Thames, in Cornwall, anywhere by the sea.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

A pair of Miu Miu Mary-Janes that I bought ten years ago with my first bonus cheque. I think I’ve worn them about ten times. At 33 they’re still the most expensive thing I own, which I think might not be what my parents hoped for me.

How would you change government policy to help women in the workplace?

Quotas! I know lots of people hate them but the whole “where are the women in the workplace” debate isn’t a new thing, it’s been going on for nearly 40 years and nothing has changed. Even the recent push around women on boards hasn’t helped that much. Yes we’ve shifted the number of women at board level but they’re all non-execs, it hasn’t really done anything to move forward the career progression of women in those companies.

Other stuff I’d do: provide more childcare support for younger age children, currently it only kicks in at 3 – any woman who’s been out of the workplace that long will tell you how difficult it is to get back in. I’d also put in place a much bigger penalty for companies that fail to be transparent about their gender pay gap. The biggest change for women has to be around working culture but for that to change we need a big government shove in the right direction.

Do you believe in quotas?

See above.

Describe yourself in three words.

Funny. Pragmatic. Ginger.

Funny. Pragmatic. Ginger.

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