Press release- Project 28-40

Employers serious about change need to make female talent a core business priority

“Project 28-40 – The Report” is a reality check for employers.   There is a gap between organisational policies and the actual experiences of 28-40 women at work, including real challenges on bullying and harassment. 

Women want excellent line management – the basics are far more important than more female only programmes. 

Flexible working is essential to women in balancing their commitments, but the stigma attached can be an obstacle to progression. 

Helena Morrissey CBE, CEO of Newton Investment Management and Chair of Opportunity Now, said:

“If business leaders are serious about change, we need to take the lead on women’s progression, moving this from a diversity initiative to a core business priority.  Set aspirational targets for the number of women you want to see at every level of your organisation”. 

Kathryn Nawrockyi, Director of Opportunity Now, said:

“Today’s report shows that women are just as confident, able and ambitious as men, while sharing similar priorities in work and life. Frustratingly, they are still not receiving enough support from their employers to achieve their ambitions.”

Gaenor Bagley, head of people at PwC and a member of the Opportunity Now advisory board, commented:


"More UK women than ever may be working, but our research shows that the workplace isn't working for women. Too often there is a disconnect between organisations' policies and the actual experience of women at work. For example, despite the perception that flexible working helps women, it could actually be holding them back in many cases. While the decision to go part-time is often made for short-term reasons, it seems to have a wider, long-term negative impact.


“We know women are confident and ambitious, but they have different goals to men. Until these goals are recognised as different, but valued equally with male priorities, workplaces will continue to disappoint and disillusion all but the most tenacious of women. To make real progress in supporting women's careers, we need workplaces and a society that value women's differences and support these aims. This means getting the basics, such as how people are assessed and rewarded at work, right."


Project 28-40 is the UK’s biggest ever study of women’s ambitions. The project surveyed 25,000 women and men to examine why the rate of progression slows for women aged 28-40 compared to their male counterparts, and to develop solutions for employers to develop and retain their talented female staff whilst enabling women and men to balance their careers with life outside work.

Kathryn Nawrockyi, Director of Opportunity Now, added:

“We’ve set out simple things that organisations can do to make work better for all their employees – men and women – and now it’s up to them to take action. This is a great opportunity for employers to radically reassess and to create modern working practices, more highly engaged employees and fair, diverse and inclusive workplaces.”

The full report and recommendations are available via the Opportunity Now website.

The research was undertaken in partnership with PwC. 


Available for interview:

Helena Morrissey CBE, CEO of Newton Investment Management, Founder of The 30% Club and Chair of Opportunity Now

Kathryn Nawrockyi, Director, Opportunity Now

Gaenor Bagley, Head of People, PwC

Helen Hodgkinson, Head of Culture and Inclusion, Nationwide Building Society

Media contacts:

Laura Cooney, Communications Officer, Opportunity Now: 020 7566 8653

Jamie Brookes, Managing Director, International Head of Marketing & Corporate Affairs, BNY Mellon: 020 7163 2146

Jamie  Harley / Amy Tiernan, PwC press office, 020 7212 2688, /

Eden Black, Senior Media Relations Manager (Corporate), Nationwide Building Society: 0207 261 6217


About Opportunity Now

Opportunity Now is the workplace gender campaign from Business in the Community. For information about Opportunity Now's work on equality, diversity and inclusion please see  

About Business in the Community

Business in the Community is a business-led charity committed to shaping a new contract between business and society.

Business in the Community is one of The Prince’s Charities, a group of not-for-profit organisations of which The Prince of Wales is president.

About Responsible Business Week

Responsible Business Week aims to inspire and equip businesses to do more to meet the world’s most pressing challenges. In doing so, they will unlock innovation and opportunity and demonstrate the positive impact of business in society.

Responsible Business Week is convened by Business in the Community in partnership with Veolia Environment and Telegraph Media Group with support from EDF Energy, Goldman Sachs International, Nationwide Building Society, PwC, Santander, Tata and Waitrose.