Diversity toolkit

Business leaders give unique perspectives on creating a diverse workforce

Diversity Toolkit Interview

Lady Barbara Judge

Lady Barbara Judge

Non-Executive Director

Barbara Thomas, Lady Judge, CBE, is an American lawyer and businesswoman who lives in London and has dual citizenship. Lady Judge is Chairman Emeritus of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), Chairman of the Pensions Protection Fund, and UK Business Ambassador on behalf of UK Trade & Investment.

Interview - The role of sponsors

Barbara has seen many changes over the last five decades and along the way has challenged a great deal of accepted norms and behaviours.

Challenging norms is in her blood: in the 1950s her mother, who was a strong influence in her life, created the university course World of Work for Women and was one of the first people to teach women how to achieve financial independence through developing their careers.

With this as a backdrop Barbara pursued a career in law. She joined a firm at a time when the government was encouraging law firms to recruit women and she chose one where they already had another woman, which she felt would pave the way for her.

She worked hard and found a sponsor who was a hard taskmaster but could give her the visibility she needed. Building a team of people you can rely on and give you advice you might not want, but need, to hear is critically important. Mentors are very important as they impart their knowledge and experience, but sponsors – people who play an active role in finding and opening out new career opportunities – are critical in developing a successful far-reaching career.

Barbara has been on many Boards throughout her career and makes a point of introducing a second woman wherever possible. She is a tireless networker and is constantly connecting women from her network together, whether at a dinner party, social gathering or AGM.

She believes it is everyone’s, particularly women’s, responsibility to sponsor and help others along the way. However, commitment, hard work, tenacity and taking responsibility for your own career, brand and image are also essential in the workplace today.