Getting to know you: Charlotte Sweeney

Charlotte Sweeney

What do you currently do?

I am founder and CEO of Charlotte Sweeney Associates, a consultancy that specialises in supporting businesses to create workplaces that can work for everyone regardless of who they are – effectively I enable them to create effective diversity and inclusion strategies that help them deliver their business strategies, and deliver them.  I’ve also launched a programme called Creating Inclusive Cultures that is a forum that brings companies together across our cities to identify ways to harness the diverse talent within our regions.  I’ve also just co-authored a book on Inclusive Leadership which has been published by The Financial Times.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

I had worked in the Financial Services sector for 25 years and led diversity and inclusion strategies for nearly 15 years of that time.  I became increasingly frustrated with the slow pace of change within businesses on creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces and believed I could have more impact by working with multiple companies via my consultancy.  I wanted to share my first hand experience of creating change and passionate about removing barriers and bias for anyone that wants to progress in their careers.

Who do you admire?

My parents!  Both of my parents are very strong characters, they are hugely resilient and tackle anything and everything that is thrown at them.  Throughout my life they have encouraged me to do exactly what I want and have instilled a belief in me that you can be anything you want to be – but it will take hard work work to get there.  I’m hugely proud of both of them for many different reasons.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

After leaving the Financial Services sector I jumped into to creating my business and became very busy very quickly creating it.  I had a great profile in my industry and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t forgotten about.  If I had my time again, I would take a little time out to think about the business I wanted to create and be a little more methodical about the markets I was going to target and the products I was going to deliver.  The business has been a huge success, however, I would have done it a little differently.

What defines your way of doing business?

It’s really important for me to enjoy the work I do as well as feeling that I’m making a positive impact for those I’m working with.  I stated right at the beginning of creating my business that I had to work with people I liked or respected and that my consultancy work had to either progress the business or progress the wider industry.  On the whole I have stuck to that and really enjoyed the time I have had my business.  I did stray away from this once at the early part of creating my business and regretted it very quickly.  It did take me a couple of months to complete the work and move on – a good lesson for me to stick to my values.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Building an effective and sustainable business is a marathon and not a sprint.  We all get very excited about our businesses and will work extremely long hours to make it a success – however, make sure you take some time out for you and the people that are important to you.  The work and opportunities will still be there even if you take a day off over the weekend, or a couple of hours during the week.  Look after yourself and make sure there is a little more to your life than purely your business.