FRIDAY 8 MAR 2019 3:37 PM


Former home secretary Jacqui Smith has joined Higginson Strategy as chair of the agency’s new female practice Empower.

Empower will work with organisations and individuals to accelerate female empowerment.

The dedicated practice comes on the back of campaigns including 'Gender Pay Gap,' #MeToo, 'Times Up' and #ProxyVote which have shone light on female issues more than 100 years since women gained the vote.  

Empower will meet quarterly to discuss ways of pushing forward women’s empowerment in a range of areas as well as having two annual external events and recording three podcasts a year focused on how true empowerment can be achieved. It will work inside organisations to deliver real empowerment where the rules of the game are rewritten rather than simply striving to hit representation targets.

Smith, who was only the third woman in Britain to hold one of the great offices of state, will draw on her unrivalled experience in furthering women’s rights during her time as deputy minister for women.

Recognising that aiming for equal representation alone is not enough, the Empower team will drive positive change for women by celebrating and championing their unique needs and differences.

Empower was launched in Parliament on 4 March at an event hosted by Labour MP and prominent women’s rights campaigner Jess Phillips. Phillips was be joined by ‘Anti-Upskirting' campaigner Gina Martin, host of BBC Radio's 'The Scene' Salma El-Wardany, head at Blackheath High School Carol Chandler-Thompson and founder of and Netmums Siobhan Freedgard. The event  explored whether social media has helped or hindered female empowerment.

Empower’s founding members include WealthiHer, a campaign to make the finance industry more female focused, backed by HSBC, Barclays and J.P. Morgan and leading independent girls’ school Blackheath High GDST.

Founded in February 2017 by former lobby journalists John and Clodagh Higginson, Higginson Strategy uses communications and behavioural insight to accelerate positive change.

Smith says, “Empower will support organisations and individuals championing women in all areas. Increased representation is important, but just the first step. We want to achieve real impact through celebrating the skills and perspective that women bring. We will work with people and organisations that share our commitment and vision to help them remove barriers, alter perceptions and accelerate change.”