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To celebrate International Women’s Day we sit down with Kathryn Kendall, Chief People Officer at Saltus. Kathryn has more than 20 years’ experience in HR, starting her career at the University of Portsmouth and holding a number of senior roles, including Head of HR at Candyking UK. In 2014, she joined employee benefits and experience platform, Benefex, as Head of HR, and worked her way up to HR Director and then Chief People Officer, where she played a key role in growing the organisation from a £9m to £40m turnover business, having more than tripled headcount to 500, and managed two successful acquisitions. Kathryn will use her wealth of experience to support Saltus’ growth strategy, ensuring the successful integration of these new businesses, while maintaining Saltus’ excellent company culture.

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?

I have a chequered history with International Women's Day because when I was much younger and earlier on in my career, I got very frustrated that we even needed to have this day focusing on women's rights because to me it was always this should be a given. As I've got older and better educated myself, I've realised that actually, the reason we need days like International Women's Day is because we still have such a long way to go. We only have to look at the state of the gender pay gap. My daughter's 12 and the gender pay gap is not going to close in her lifetime. I can't accept that, and I don't think any of us in positions of leadership within businesses should accept that. I think we have it to shine a light on just how far we still have to go when it comes to closing the inequalities we see within our organisations.

What does power mean to you and how does this impact what you think a “powerful woman” is?

Power to me is having the ability to make a difference. That's the whole reason I've wanted to progress in my career to get to a senior level because I've always seen that the more senior you are, the more opportunity you have to make a difference and change people's lives for the better. That to me is the definition of being a powerful woman.

Who inspires you?

I try pretty hard not to focus on someone inspiring me. There's a quote that I love, which is, "Comparison is the thief of joy." I always think there's a real danger for any of us comparing ourselves even inadvertently to someone in a particular position. I think the biggest thing that inspires me is all the people that I'm able to support and positively impact. I wouldn't say there's one figurehead or individual that particularly inspires me.

What is the most important message you want to send to young women thinking about their careers?

The biggest thing I would love every young woman who might be watching this out there to take away is to believe that you can do it. I'm so conscious of my own privilege, I grew up with two parents who have always told me, "You can do anything you want to do." And if you're lucky enough to grow up with that around you, I think you do go into life with a mindset of, "Yeah, I really can achieve anything." But not everybody's lucky enough to have that. So, I think to anybody who's perhaps watching this, believe in your abilities, don't feel that you have to conform and necessarily go in, as we said, and display those male attributes. You can succeed because of you and everything that you can bring to an organisation. So that self-belief is the biggest message I would want anybody to take from today.

What can Saltus do to improve diversity in our business?

I think we must acknowledge that we've got a long way to go to be truly diverse, and we're not the only organisation out there that has that challenge. We sit within an industry which is massively white male dominated. The answer is getting into the education system much earlier. We would typically target graduates and bring them into our business to take them through the organisation. I think we need to start working with more schools in the community much earlier before the point where our young people have made up their mind on their career decisions. And then we need to work with the communities to understand actually what are those perceived barriers to entry to the industry at the moment, and how do we work to change that.

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All authors have considerable industry expertise and specific knowledge on any given topic. All pieces are reviewed by an additional qualified financial specialist to ensure objectivity and accuracy to the best of our ability. All reviewer’s qualifications are from leading industry bodies. Where possible we use primary sources to support our work. These can include white papers, government sources and data, original reports and interviews or articles from other industry experts. We also reference research from other reputable financial planning and investment management firms where appropriate.

Saltus Financial Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Information is correct to the best of our understanding as at the date of publication. Nothing within this content is intended as, or can be relied upon, as financial advice. Capital is at risk. You may get back less than you invested. Tax rules may change and the value of tax reliefs depends on your individual circumstances.

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years working with clients

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client retention rate

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