Under the joint leadership of Donna Scully and John Carpenter, Carpenters Group has been achieving gender parity without realising it – and it’s paying off. Women make up 58% of the company’s total workforce, 50% of its executive board, 61% of its operations board, and 59% of managers and team leaders.
However, Scully stresses that this wasn’t achieved by hiring women purely to achieve gender parity – a practice she disagrees with. “It’s got to be best person for the job, and sometimes it’s a woman – you need to have an open mind to see that,” she says.
For Scully, reaching a position to make a positive impact has been a long and sometimes arduous journey. Initially from Dublin, she left school at 16; after moving to England, she attended night school to study law, eventually qualifying as a solicitor in 1995. “I suppose I’ve always been ambitious,” she says. “I didn’t think I should be held back because I’m a woman.”
In 1997, Scully moved from London to Liverpool to join Carpenters Group, which was then a small commercial practice, and she’s helped grow it into what it is today. Among her long list of accomplishments, Scully won the Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2014 Personal Injury Awards, and this is her third appearance on IBUK’s Elite Women list.
Scully’s advice for other young women in insurance? “You can do it,” she says. “It is a bit painful, and it can take time, but if you want it, there are some opportunities, and you have to push. [The work environment for women] is changing, and I’m really pleased about that.”