Women in Trade Associations

Powerlist 2024

TAF, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) are pleased to have joined forces to champion the role of women in trade associations, celebrate their achievements and encourage the next generation of women into the association sector. 

TAF, FSB and CBI are proud to be led by strong female champions and to be supported in our respective organisations by brilliant women at all stages of their careers.

It is our shared ambition to support our own staff and other inspirational women in trade associations to be powerful advocates for diversity and inclusion in their sectors and more widely to support and encourage female business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Thank you to our Women in Trade Association Power List Chair, Nicola Bates, and the Selection Panel

The selection panel:

The 2024 powerlist!

Celebrating this years most inspirational Women working in Trade Associations 


In a special category for 2024, the following women have been nominated by their trade associations for their outstanding member contribution to their association and their sector.

You can browse the full list below or else filter by sector or search

Join the conversation

Join the conversation on Twitter using #WiTAPowerlist 

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

Women in Trade Associations

Powerlist 2023

TAF and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) are pleased to have joined forces to champion the role of women in trade associations, celebrate their achievements and encourage the next generation of women into the association sector. 

From over 200 nominations we are please to be able to unveil the first WiTA Powerlist that recognises one hundred inspirational women in associations.

We are grateful to our selection panel for helping to curate the inaugural list. 

The selection panel:

We are proud to work with many inspirational women at the FSB and CBI many of whom deserve to be included in this list.

The 2023 powerlist!

You can browse the full list below or else filter by sector or search

Join the conversation

Join the conversation on Twitter using #WiTAPowerlist 

Diversity for many associations is still a challenge, particularly for those who represent traditionally male-dominated sectors.

Traditional associations derive their activists, volunteers and often their staff teams from their members, with individuals often moving to and from associations and their member businesses.

The diversity of an association therefore often reflects the diversity of their sector.

In many ways this is inevitable. Associations need to be experts in their sectors, they need to understand how it works both in detail and in practice. They need to understand all the nooks and crannies, the people, the culture and the industry politics too.

So, in many ways, associations need to overcompensate with their focus on diversity, encouraging unrepresented groups to participate in the association, and also actively seeking diverse candidates into appropriate roles. 

The current labour market has proved challenging on this front, our member benchmarking survey published in November last year, showed that associations are struggling to recruit, and are concerned about retaining talent.

The Trade Association Forum as the ‘association of associations’ wants to play our part as well. 

We exist to bring members together, develop communities and encourage the sharing of best practice. There are some great examples of associations leading the way to encourage their sectors to be more diverse. Including the two associations shortlisted for ‘Diversity Initiative of the Year’ for this year’s Trade Associations Awards:

  • The British Beer and Pub Association launched the first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Charter for breweries and pubs; a sector-wide commitment to embed practices throughout members’ businesses from boardroom to the bar. 
  • RenewableUK launched a Switch List, an industry-sourced list of women in the industry specialists in their field, ready and able to participate in panels, be speakers, keynotes or roundtable representatives. The list is open-access and for use by the whole energy industry and trade bodies to ensure that there can never be the excuse that ‘there aren’t any women who know about this topic’. 

These are great initiatives that we are proud to celebrate with our awards, but we want to use our platform to highlight other stories as well.

This is why we have launched a new initiative with the FSB and the CBI to celebrate women in Associations. We are building the Women in Trade Association Powerlist to publish on International Women’s Day, and bringing together for the first time inspirational women from across the sector to act as a demonstration of the incredible female talent we are lucky enough to have. To coin a phrase, “You can’t be it if you can’t see it.”

We also want to encourage associations to attract and recruit from a wider pool of candidates, which is why we are working to promote associations as a great place to grow and develop your career. We are currently reviewing our training and development offer, and working with our recruitment partners Membership Bespoke and Ellwood Atfield to develop best practice around recruitment and retention.

We are also working with other partners including the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)  to build networks of PR and Public Affairs and communications professionals in associations to champion the work that they do.

In the future, we think that TAF should be the place where anyone working in or looking to work in an association goes when they need professional support and advice about how to build and develop their career in Associations.

You can play your part too.  

Nominate your inspirational women in association by the 6th February:

Nominate the best women you know for the inaugural 2023 Powerlist

TAF, the CBI and the FSB are joining forces to champion the role of Women in trade bodies , celebrate their achievements and encourage the next generation of women into the association sector.

On International Women’s Day we will be launching the inaugural Women in Trade Associations powerlist. Our list will celebrate the best, the most brilliant, and the most formidable female business and sector champions in the UK.

We are looking for inspirational women in Associations, women who champion their sector, deliver tirelessly for their members, and support their colleagues.

Nominees must:

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


Anyone can make a nomination, Just tell us why you think they deserve a place on our 2023 list (maximum 300 words).

So, who do you know that should make the list?

Join the conversation

Join the conversation and help promote the Women in Trade Associations Powerlist on social media:



Comprehensive financial, salary & benefits benchmarking of more than 100 trade associations now available to buy!

The TAF Benchmarking survey 2022 produced in partnership wtih Ellwood Atfield provides up-to-date information on key financial indicators, salaries, pay awards and benefits offered by associations.

The data was collected during September and October 2022 and there were 105 valid responses from organisations together employing some 1,152 staff with combined salary bill of more than £42m.

The report allows association leaders to make informed decisions about budgeting, salaries and strategy. Available now for just £100 (ex VAT) for TAF Members and £150 (ex VAT) for non-members.

The report and accompanying data tables breaks down findings by geographical location and size of association and has been produced specifically to help associations benchmark themselves against similar sized associations. The data includes:

  • Salary bill, wage inflation and benefits
  • Revenue makeup and cash at hand
  • Recruitment, staffing levels and ways of working
  • Salary scales at 5 levels of seniority
  • Bonus levels and criteria
  • Board remuneration
  • Pensions

Example data

Below are some examples of the types of information included in the report:

How long could your association survive on cash-at-hand?

How have you found recruitment over the past 12 months?


We benchmarked salaries at 5 different levels for trade association staff (by size and geography) and also explored how employers have adapted to new ways of working and are using benefits to improve their offer and retain staff.

Get this and much more in the full report and data tables.


The Trade Association Forum in partnership with the Chartered Institute for Public Relations (CIPR) are delighted to launch a new networking group for PR and PA professionals working in Trade Associations.

The TAF PR and Public Affairs Best Practice Forum (TAF PUBCOM) held its first meeting on 22nd September and agreed a remit to:

  • Provide a professional network for PR and PA staff working in trade associations
  • Support trade association PR and public affairs staff to develop their skills and professional careers, including through the provision of tailored training and development and CPD learning opportunities
  • Share best practice, discuss challenges and initiate benchmarking and research into the challenges faced by PR and public affairs in trade associations
  • Provide mentoring and support to those looking to grow and develop their career in PR and public affairs within trade associations
This is a fantastic initiative, which I am delighted to be part of. I am looking forward to developing a community of professionals and delivering a useful and engaging programme which supports our professional and personal development
Tom Reynolds
CEO of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association and Chair of the new TAF PUBCOM
We are delighted to collaborate with TAF to launch this new network to help support public relations and public affairs professionals to meet their peers working in similar organisations and learn from each other.

In times of turbulence and change, the role of trade associations to communicate with and on behalf of their members is crucial. This new initiative will help us develop and build collectively and undoubtedly be a valuable resource.
Alastair McCapra
Alastair McCapra
CIPR Chief Executive

For more information about the network please contact TAF CEO, Emily Wallace, or register for updates below:

Successful Trade Associations are built on excellent communications

There is no doubt that successful trade associations are built on excellent communications, but keeping pace with modern professional communications is an enduring and significant challenge. 

Trade associations are small organisations, almost all employ less than 100 staff, most less than 20 and many under 10. They certainly don’t have the luxury of being able to employ a fully skilled team of communications professionals. 

Instead, individuals take on multiple roles, upskilling themselves and learning on the job. Getting the balance of skills right to be able to take on, PR, public affairs, member engagement, corporate and digital communications is a constant challenge.

Their work really matters, and their communications does too. It needs to help them punch well above the size of their organisations. 

It is only through excellent communicators that associations can properly represent their sector both in the UK and abroad, and with it shape the opportunities for their members and support the growth of the UK economy too.

Their communication with regulators and policymakers is critical. It makes policy workable. Without trade associations, the Government would have a really hard job implementing policy. Not only do associations spend huge amounts of time working on the details of regulation and guidance, but they then communicate it to their members and drive compliance too.

As the voice of their industry there is a huge responsibility to be visible and be accurate, and as member led organisations, trade associations must ensure they represent their views and interests. This means they need excellent channels of communication with members and a strong feedback loop too.

Trade associations also deliver essential communications to ensure industry standards are understood and adhered to. They put in place accreditation programmes, run regular training sessions, develop routes to entry through apprenticeships and vocational learning, support continued professional development, share best practice and reward excellence. 

These communications make us all safer by protecting consumers and businesses and supporting public sector inspection regimes.

There is no doubt that investing in the skills and resources needed to have a professional communications capability is critical for associations. 

This is why TAF has teamed up with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations to work together to ensure that Associations have access to the best professional development opportunities, and why together we are looking at how to build networks and develop best practice specifically for Associations. 

If you are interested in finding out more or getting involved, we would love to hear from you. 

CIPR announce new Partnership with the Trade Association Forum

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is delighted to announce a strategic partnership with  The Trade Association Forum to support the development of networks, discussion forums and best practice guidance for all those working in communications roles in UK Trade Associations.

Trade Associations are built on good communications, often the voice of their sector, they have small teams that rely on excellent communications, with members, with their sector, with the media, regulators and policy makers.

Working together the CIPR and TAF will look to improve the training and development offer for those working in communications in trade associations. 

The partnership will also promote the importance of  investing in professional communications to support Trade Associations across all of their communications activities, from PR to member communications, to marketing and public affairs 

TAF Interim CEO Emily Wallace said: 

Trade Associations are small organisations that need to punch above their weight with their communications. I am delighted to be working with the CIPR to support TAF members to learn about the value of investing in their communications capabilities. ”

Alastair McCapra, Chief Executive of CIPR stated: 

“Trade Associations are built on good communications. Often the voice of their sector, they have small teams that rely on excellent communications, with members, with their sector, with the media, regulators and policy makers. This partnership will support members of both bodies in sharing best practice and by providing networking opportunities.


The Trade Association Forum is the association for association in the UK, representing more than 140 trade associations who in turn represent more than 135,000 businesses from all sectors of the economy.

CIPR is the world’s only Royal Chartered body for public relations professionals. We are committed to professional standards and lifelong learning, supporting careers of members and building public understanding of public relations. 

For more information please contact: 

TAF: Emily Wallace, CEO – ceo@taforum.org 

Darren Caplan is the CEO of RIA. He joined us to discuss who RIA are, what their priorities are, how TAF helps them achieve their goals, and the awards won by both RIA and Darren at the 2022 TAF Awards.

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