Q&A: Trade Union leader Joanne Kaye on women’s leadership

Bristol Women’s Commission’s panel for International Women’s Day 2023 celebrations at city hall explored women’s leadership featuring a range of local leaders, including Joanne Kaye – Regional Secretary of Unison SW. Here she shares some of her views on women’s leadership.

How did you get to where you are today?

I applied for the jobs and worked hard to be good at them. Having been asked on Day 1 of my first job with the union “Who did you s**g to get this job?”, like most women leaders, I’ve worked twice as hard as male colleagues, remained calm under severe duress and kept on going.

What do you think makes a good leader?

Empathy for others and humility. Leaders who think they have nothing to learn are a danger.

What’s been your biggest challenges as a woman?

Reshaping what a leader looks like and managing long hours with three children.

What advice would you give to aspiring female leaders?

Being your authentic self will always be more important than fitting in. Women live in space that was fought for by the women before us and we should always make that space wider and more welcoming.

What women leaders inspire you, and why?

Inez McCormack (from Northern Ireland, who was my first boss. Mo Mowlam and Jacinda Ardern.

Bristol Women’s Commission brings together partners, including Avon & Somerset Police, to identify and tackle issues impacting women and girls. With women’s representation task forces running campaigns in the past, this focus now crosses a range of groups – from women in business to women and girls’ education. Find out more about the work of the Commission here.

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