Introducing Helen Lumb – part of The Leasing Foundation’s diversity and inclusion steering group

Introducing Helen Lumb, Shire Leasing’s CFO and part of The Leasing Foundation’s diversity and inclusion steering group. Find out what she does and where she plans to go on holiday next…

How long have you been in the business finance industry?

18 years in asset finance, over 30 years in finance as a whole, starting out life at EY.

What do you do for the Leasing Foundation?

I’m part of the D&I steering group and I champion mental health and invisible conditions

Why did you first decide to become involved with the Foundation and how long have you been a core part of the team?

I joined the D&I group not long after its inception which must be almost five years ago now. I want to make a difference to our industry, especially about a topic I’m passionate about. I started putting mental health on the agenda at Shire in 2015 and have been using my position on the board to start ‘conversations’ around a topic that people in the past have skirted because of stigma and fear of speaking out. We held a successful ‘Time to Talk’ event for our staff, turning our training rooms into a coffee shop for the day. It broke down lots of barriers and helped us to shape a better wellbeing agenda. It was therefore very natural for me to talk about this outside of Shire and eventually I helped replicate the event for the Leasing Foundation, with the help of Lombard.  We invited speakers from our industry to form a panel, and provided the same ‘coffee shop’ experience. Talking about mental health, especially in today’s environment is essential. It isn’t about having all the answers and fixing people, but providing an environment for people to feel safe to speak out without judgement. I believe that you do not know what someone is experiencing underneath and we should always attempt to be kind and spend time listening, to try and understand.

How is the Foundation currently supporting the industry?

The Foundation is working on lots of areas within diversity and inclusion – mental health, LGBTQ, disability, race and ethnicity and of course the actual ‘inclusion’ agenda. The latter is extremely important. At school, I was always one of those shy ‘geeky’ kids who struggled to socialise and I always knew what it felt like to be on the outside looking in. It affects your self-worth and you constantly question yourself, your abilities and whether you should be there. As I grew up and found my ‘niche’ I realised that the only way to prevent others going through similar experiences, is to reach out and be as inclusive as possible and that still takes me out of my comfort zone at times, but it is so necessary. The Foundation is keen to support this methodology as far as possible in the industry, which can only be a good thing, and we do this through events, blogs and connecting with other organisations.

What has the D&L group achieved so far?

The D&I group is made up of a really passionate group of people who want to make a difference and shape our industry in a positive way.  I think we have made some great strides in the mental health arena with previous events, but since COVID struck it has been hard to do physical events. Earlier this year, I hosted a ‘Bring Your Own Pet’ coffee morning on Zoom during lockdown and it was a great event, even if a little chaotic with our furry friends!

What plans do you / the team have for the future?

There are lots of plans, some new events as restrictions are easing, in particular in the disability and LGBTQ areas.

What do you do outside of work?

Outside of spending time with my immediate family  – husband, two adult daughters, a new son-in-law and two Cavalier King Charles spaniels – my main 2 passions are travelling and photography, ideally at the same time, although the last 18 months has been difficult. I took the photo below on safari in Tanzania for my 50th birthday four years ago.

Where do you plan to go on holiday next?

We went to Spain at the end of August, and are planning a trip around a few Greek Islands next year for our 30th wedding anniversary, COVID permitting.