Emma Mitchell

‘Inequality in the workplace makes me a bit cross - the more I read about it the more I realise how dumb it is.’

Emma Mitchell

Job title: Diversity & Inclusiveness Leader, EMEIA Financial Services (London)

Time at EY: 10 years

I’ve been at EY for over a decade – I was a Recruitment and Mobility Director in EMEIA Financial Services for seven of those, and HR and change project director for nearly two years before moving to my current role as Diversity & Inclusiveness Leader for EMEIA Financial Services. During my time, I’ve negotiated to have 18 months off to become an adoptive mum – which I’m glad to say prompted a change in EY’s adoption policy, a great step towards equality! However, I believe that there’s still more work to be done in order for us to achieve equality in the workplace and beyond.

Emma on… achieving work-life balance

“Ask for what you want to have a great personal and professional life. If you can’t see colleagues or leaders doing that, then be the first to do it.”

Emma on… whether there’s equality in the workplace

“I think there’s more to go. We’re part of a 150-year change. That’s going to take quite a bit of time to work through, and I don’t think we can do it in isolation. We need the universities to play their part, we need more girls going into science, maths. I think we’re part of a movement but there is definitely still a gap to fill.”

Emma on… whether inequality is more noticeable as she gets older

“When I was younger, when I had not experienced discrimination directly, I just thought that’s the deal, there were some things I just accepted. But as I got older I became more aware. There’s a point in people’s lives when we can see inequality playing out. It makes me wonder about the things around us that we just accept but are actually a part of that inequality.”

Emma on… her experience of flexible working

“I’ve been working for about 24 years and I’ve worked flexibly for at least half of that – even before having kids. I had a career break for about a year, which was phenomenal, and I’ve worked full time, I’ve worked on a two day a week basis, a four day a week basis, and I’ve just started a job share. I’ve done a lot in terms of flexible working.”

Emma on… whether flexible working has affected her career

“Some people would say that the 18 months off I took for adoption leave was career suicide. It was absolutely brilliant; flexible working has never had implications for me from a career perspective. In fact, when I took my first career break I was promoted as a result of that – I got access to a job opportunity that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t gone travelling. So it’s worked out for me.”

Emma on… the importance of equality in the workplace

“It matters, and it makes me cross because the more I read about it the more I realise how dumb the current inequality is. It costs us money from a GDP perspective, and a study has shown that we could add about $26 trillion to global growth. We’re also not harnessing the talent that’s out there. From a senior manager’s point of view, the fact that there aren’t more females is just criminal; it’s stupid.”

Emma on… the difference between men and women

“Women are higher caring from a pastoral perspective, from a team perspective. I think that there is a greater tendency to be diligent, almost caring too much. Just let it go. Stop trying to make your house perfect, stop trying to manage and micromanage everything. Let go of trying to be perfect at everything and just be okay at some stuff. Men have survived on that for decades.”

Emma on… who should be fixing inequality

“I think we need to get more men involved. Currently men do rule the world – well, on the surface anyway – and clearly there’s a strong army of women around that are changing things too, but it’s only through getting men involved are things really going to shift.”

Emma on… how to persuade men to take equality seriously

“What is not okay is to make men feel bad. That’s not going to do anything, because it’s not a man problem or a man challenge. It’s a challenge for men and women both, together.”

Emma was interviewed alongside Nick Stewart for our Creating Equality Together video.


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