Jackie Alexander

Jackie’s main career has been in HR. She started at British Airways (she says she still gets ridiculously excited whenever she gets on a plane), followed by a few years in the public sector and then into the City. Jackie became a partner in Spicer & Oppenheim a well-known accountancy firm, followed by a short period with Touche Ross (now Deloittes) as HR partner on the Management Committee.

Never one to ignore a challenge, Jackie then went to BBC Worldwide as Managing Director Resources (a role which included running some of the White City site). On a new Board recruited to privatise the subsidiary, she was part of the team that launched the channel (UK) Gold TV. After privatisation didn’t happen, it was back into the City as recruitment partner for PwC and then a move to Managing Director Resources for LCH.Clearnet where she ran HR as well as opening new offices, including one on Wall Street. For the last 10 years, she has had an independent portfolio career, providing HR support for small organisations and charities, as a lay member of Regulatory panels and delivering training and coaching. Jackie has been working with Circle Sq. since 2019.

Recently, Jackie took a role at the House of Commons, working within their Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme. This Scheme is for the Parliamentary Community and if a complaint is made through the confidential Helpline about bullying and harassment or sexual misconduct it provides a system for independent investigators to look into the allegations. Jackie’s role is to provide advice to investigators and quality assure their reports. Despite a long career in law and HR, this recent work has given Jackie an even greater insight into changes in a workplace that can be put in place to tackle these issues.

At the start of her career as a solicitor, Jackie recalls, “I went for an interview with a senior partner at a law firm who commented, as I got up to leave the meeting, ‘I see you’re wearing a wedding ring. Can I ask what contraceptive you use because we don’t want you getting pregnant.’ So yes, we have come a long, long way since then and those words sparked a personal crusade to blaze a trail for women throughout my career.”

How has gender equality moved on since then?
“There is a much deeper consciousness through the interview process and greater transparency when it comes to promotions for example. Plus, there’s a whole bank of legislation to ensure equality and inclusion are hard-wired into organisations. But more than that, there is a recognition of the power and value women bring to companies and a drive to support women while acknowledging their caring responsibilities, whether that’s child-rearing or looking after elderly relatives. The biological facts of life will continue to remain a challenge but dealing with them responsibly and flexibly is what matters.”

Are some industries doing better than others to #BreakTheBias?
The charity and SME sectors have made huge strides in female representation at the senior levels. They make it work, they’re agile and above all, they’re flexible. I’ve seen many smaller organisations consciously embrace female leadership and as a result, they attract some of the best talent.

Has covid advanced or delayed women’s equality?
Hybrid working styles as a result of Covid have changed the workplace completely for so many of us and I firmly believe we’re on the cusp of something great for women.

What’s been the biggest change for women since you started your career?
Women helping other women. Our understanding of the importance of networking and helping each other has improved and we’ve learnt that by helping others, it reflects well on us too.

Quick-fire Circle Square Q&A:

  1. What 3 words best describe you?
    Professional, empathetic, enthusiastic.
  2. If you could offer your younger self one piece of advice, what would that be?
    Look after yourself physically as well as mentally and always drink lots of water!
  3. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
    Successfully balancing career and family life.
  4. Which person (dead or alive) would you most like to invite to dinner? 
    Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
  5. How has age strengthened your advantage?
    I am more patient with myself and with others and have a greater perspective.

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