Former Coronation Street actor Nicola Thorp has urged businesswomen to “make space” to empower themselves at an event to unite women in specialist finance.
Thorp (pictured) said businesses need to do more to tackle gender imbalance, particularly at the top level.
She was speaking in a panel discussion about workplace equality at the Women in Specialist Lending Event (WISE), sponsored by Manchester-based specialist finance firm Together.
She said: “It’s about making space and not taking space, making the workplace truly diverse and equal”.
Thorp, who played Nicola Rubinstein in the ITV soap, said this could only be achieved through even more women championing their own talents and abilities – and recognising each other’s achievements.
The event, held in Manchester, was funded by Together which is also the founding member. The first in a series of networking opportunities to champion women’s contributions to the industry, WISE was set up to encourage personal and career development among likeminded specialist finance leaders.
Thorp was joined on the panel by other industry figures including Fiona Hoyle, head of consumer and mortgage finance at the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA).
The panel also included Debbie Burton, CEO at lender Central Trust Limited, Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s member for housing and regeneration and Joanna Kingston-Davies, COO at solicitors Jackson Lees Group.
Following the discussion, Thorp said: “I was keen to get involved with the WISE launch, especially in light of this month’s International Women’s Day, because I see it as a fantastic opportunity to recognise the achievements of women within the specialist lending sector. It was a wonderful event that addressed issues and concerns faced by women.
“Female focused networking groups are essential if we are going to see equal gender representations at all levels of the industry.”
Nicola, a campaigner for gender equality, hit the headlines in 2016 when she revealed she’d been sent home without pay for refusing to wear high heels.
Tracey Bailey, head of lending transformation at Together and executive sponsor of WISE, said it was “encouraging” to see support from Nicola and other likeminded women – and men – in the specialist lending sector.
She said: “We had a fantastic turnout for the WISE launch and the feedback has been greatly positive. Our vision is to grow the initiative as wide as possible and support each other, personally and professionally, through an inclusive networking community – creating more opportunities for women in specialist lending.”