Announcing the top 100 Women in Trade Association – the Powerlist!

Today is International Women’s Day and it is with great pleasure that we launch the inaugural Trade Association Forum’s Women in Trade Association’s Powerlist in partnership with the Federation of Small Businesses. Within this list of 100 women will be familiar names. Chances are they convene your sector, you hear them on the news and know of their successes in Westminster and Whitehall. After a gruelling six years championing their sectors while managing the fall out of Brexit, COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine we thought it was time to shine the spotlight on them as they do so ably day in and day out for UK plc.

We asked for recommendations for inspirational women in associations, women who champion their sector, deliver tirelessly for their members, and support their colleagues. We had two simple requirements in that nominees must:

  • Work for or in a UK trade association (defined as a UK membership organisation representing UK businesses)
  • Be inspirational, influential and brilliant…

We wanted to keep as open a door as possible for people to define inspirational, influential and brilliant in their own terms. It resulted in compelling case studies with considerable evidence of impact across:   

  • Policy engagement – supporting their sectors to open up global trade routes; secure billions of pounds of funding; and keeping trade going.
  • Creating industry wide coalitions – both in the UK and internationally.
  • Developing sustainable organisations – through membership growth and ensuring business profitability by showing impact and diversifying offerings.
  • Project delivery – a lot has happened through trade associations that deliver on the ground with sustainability and training being two big themes, along with delivery mechanisms such as events and education partnerships.   
  • Diversity and inclusion – including supporting colleagues growth (from women’s groups, split roles to menopause support) and actively evaluating and supporting the sectors work to build a more diverse workforce;
  • Crisis management – see above, there have been a few!

“A formidable champion for her members, vocal, visible and hugely passionate”

Said of our most nominated candidate Fiona Campbell who with 14 recommendations seemed to capture so many of the qualities shown in our leaders. We wouldn’t want to feed into the slight trite idea of ‘female characteristics’ for success, yet for those interested to know why these people have had such accomplishments a word cloud would pull out the following:

  • Brave (especially the CEO who polled her team on her management style);
  • Champion, advocate, tirelessly represents, persuasive, strong voice;  
  • Collegiate, inclusive, great team player, collaborative;
  • Fair, calm, reliable, well informed;
  • Formidable, driven, resilient;  
  • Inspirational, passionate, dedicated, determined;   

My significant thanks to Emily Wallace, CEO of TAF, for driving this project – it would not have happened without you. Equally my huge appreciation to our Judging Panel including Caroline Lavelle (FSB), Lisa Collins (IABM), Ellen Daniels (BCGA), Martin McTague (FSB) and last, but never least, the incredible Gaynor Pates (Chair TAF).

With over 250 nominations we had a significant job in evaluating the nominees and it was incredibly hard to filter to just 100. In the nominations we had a number of brilliant recommendations from a cohort of women who are clearly rising stars, who while don’t feature today we will ensure that they secure a place in their own list. Undoubtingly there will be incredibly capable, talented, and well-loved candidates we haven’t been able to recognise here as we pared down to the most notable for the work over the past few years. My apologies to them and we hope that you don’t see this as a slight.

We will shortly be celebrating with the women in the list. Next year we hope to revisit the group again and extend this wider to women performing other significant roles driving associations including Chairs and other members. More, as always, will follow. In the meantime our list and nominees will be getting on with the job while being inspirational, influential and brilliant – congratulations again to them!

Nicola Bates


Women in Trade Association’s Power List

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