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About our Commissioners

Caroline Waters (Interim Chair)

Currently Vice President of Carers UK, Trustee of RSPCA, and Founder and CEO of CW Consulting Box, Caroline Waters was also Director of People and Policy at BT and has a distinguished record on equality, inclusion, and human resources, and has been the driving force of many diversity-focused groups. She chaired, for example, Employers for Carers from 2001 to 2013, was founder and inaugural Chair of the Employers' Forum on Belief, and Chair of the Lone Parents working group. She was awarded HR Director of the Year in the 2009 and Most Influential HR Director of the decade in 2016 HR Excellence Awards and has also judged a number of prestigious diversity awards including the CRE Race in the Media Awards and Help the Aged's Living Legends. She was awarded the OBE for services to diversity and equal opportunities in the New Year’s list in 2010.

Susan Johnson OBE (Interim Deputy Chair)

Susan Johnson was, until her retirement in August 2015, Chief Executive at County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, where she was the first woman and non-uniformed chief executive to lead a Fire and Rescue Service in the United Kingdom. Susan previously held a senior position in the Regional Development Agency for Yorkshire and Humber following a career in international marketing in the information technology sector. Susan was awarded the OBE for services to New Deal in the North East in 2000 and has held a number of non-executive and trustee roles in the private, public and not for profit sectors including Greggs PLC, Legacy Trust UK and Durham University.

Suzanne Baxter

Suzanne is an experienced board member, finance professional and Chair.  She has been actively involved in the national diversity and women on boards’ agendas and was Deputy Chair and Advisory Board member to the Business in the Community (BITC) Gender Equality Campaign for over ten years. Suzanne has extensive board and Chair experience.  She is a Non-Executive Director and Audit Committee Chair of WHSmith plc and is the External Board Member at Pinsent Masons LLP.  She was formerly Group Finance Director of Mitie Group plc. Her earlier career was spent at Serco and in the accountancy profession with PwC and Deloitte. Her previous roles include Chair of BITC (South West) and Chair of the Business Services Association. Suzanne is a Fellow of the ICAEW and the Royal Society of Arts.

Pavita Cooper

Pavita Cooper is recognised as a leading talent and diversity expert; she has over 25 years’ experience as an executive talent leader across a range of multi-sector global blue-chip organisations, including Shell, Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group. Pavita has acted as an advisor to CEOs, executive teams and business leaders across multiple sectors and geographies. Pavita is a passionate advocate of greater diversity; she campaigns tirelessly to change the face of British business. She is a regular speaker on women in business, increasing ethnic diversity and the acceleration of diverse talent in the pipeline to the C-Suite and Boardroom. Pavita is the daughter of immigrants; her early life experiences shaped her dedication to strive for greater fairness and equality for all parts of society. Pavita is a steering committee member of the 30 Percent Club, in addition she chairs CMI Race. Pavita was named Woman of the Year at the Asian Business Awards in September 2017.She is a member of the Whole Education Board and appears on the Disability 100 Power list.

Alasdair Henderson

Alasdair Henderson is a barrister at 1 Crown Office Row, specialising in public law, human rights, employment law and equality law. He previously worked in Rwanda for International Justice Mission, investigating cases of land rights violations. He has been involved in several of the most high-profile public inquiries of recent years, including the Al-Sweady Inquiry, Leveson Inquiry, Litvinenko Inquiry and the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

Rebecca Hilsenrath (Chief Executive)

Rebecca Hilsenrath was appointed CEO at the Equality and Human Rights Commission in October 2015 and Chief Legal Officer in March 2014.  Before that she was CEO of LawWorks (the Solicitors’ Pro Bono Group). She has also worked in the Attorney General’s Office, advising government law officers on areas of civil law including human rights and EU law, freedom of information, charity law and family law, and leading on pro bono coordination, advocates to court and equality and diversity. She has also worked at the Department for Education and Skills and as a solicitor at Linklaters and Paines.  She is currently a Non-Lay Member of the Board of the Office for Legal Complaints.  She has two honorary doctorates for contributions for contributions to the legal profession, from BPP and Hertfordshire Universities.

Helen Mahy CBE

Helen is Chair of the Renewables Infrastructure Group and Deputy Chair and Senior Independent Director of Primary Health Properties PLC, which is listed on the main market on the London Stock Exchange. She is also a Non-Executive Director of SSE PLC and Bonheur ASA, the latter being listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. She was, until she retired in 2013, Group Company Secretary and General Counsel of National Grid plc for 10 years. At National Grid she was also executive sponsor of inclusion and diversity, about which she is passionate. Helen has also been on the boards of Aga Rangemaster Group PLC, Stagecoach Group PLC, SVG Capital PLC, Primary Health Properties PLC and was Chair of Medic X Fund Ltd. She qualified as a barrister and was an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute. She is also an accredited performance coach. Helen is a member of the steering board of the Parker Review in to Ethnic Diversity of UK Boards. She was also an advisory board member of Opportunity Now. Helen was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2015, for services to business and voluntary service particularly to the legal profession and diversity in the workplace

Mark McLane

Mark McLane is Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Well-being at M&G PLC, and until the end of 2018 was Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion for Barclays PLC. Prior to Barclays, Mark was the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Booz Allen Hamilton, a professional services firm in Washington DC. He also held the position of Chief Diversity Officer for Whirlpool Corporation. Mark holds the title of Past Master of the Guild of Human Resource Professionals. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, Mark was recognised by the Guardian’s global LGBT power list, the Financial Times 100 LGBT business leaders in London, and named among the top 50 global diversity executives by the Economist.

Dr Lesley Sawers (Scotland Commissioner)

Lesley is currently a Director of Crosswinds Developments Ltd and a Trustee of Age Scotland. She is also a Director of GenAnalytics Ltd, a specialist analytical and market insights consultancy. Previously Lesley was Vice Principal and Pro Vice Chancellor for Business, Enterprise and Innovation at Glasgow Caledonian University, Chief Executive of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry and Deputy Chair of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. She has also held senior executive positions at Scottish Power plc, Royal Mail, CACI Inc and VisitScotland. She is also a past Trustee and Chair of Action for Children (Scotland), Chair of the Royal Mail Advisory Board Scotland and Chair of the Scottish Cities Alliance. She is a community councillor in Glasgow.

Last updated: 12 Aug 2020