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

The Association Diversity Challenge

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:



Subscribe To Our Monthly Newsletter

Get notified about the latest TAF news, invites to events and exclusive offers.