Interview Lydia Slater, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar
Slater also sits on the advisory council of Walpole, the official sector body for UK luxury, leading the Women in Luxury programme, which aims to achieve gender parity in the C-suite by 2025. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and has previously edited The Week’s Fashion magazine and the Sunday Times Style magazine, and written regularly for ES Magazine, The Times and Daily Telegraph.
THE WICK: Tell us about a typical Monday.
Lydia Slater: I’m lucky to be able to work from home on Mondays, which means the start of the week is fairly calm. I have a quick 11am meeting with the heads of the creative, picture, fashion, beauty, digital and features teams to make sure everything is progressing smoothly, and in the afternoon, we hold a full production meeting with everybody on a Teams call to run through the whole of the upcoming issue. Normally, I end the day with a weights class, but I’m still recovering from a knee operation, and not up to much more than hobbling slowly around the block with the dog. I try not to go out on Monday nights, but at this time of year, that’s almost impossible.
TW: Who is your ultimate Monday Muse?
LS: The Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis appeared on one of a suite of covers for the December/January issue of Harper’s Bazaar and I sat next to her at our Women of the Year Awards dinner earlier this month. Her brilliant autobiography, Finding Me, lays bare her traumatic childhood and the extraordinary strength she had to find in order to reach her current position. In person, though, she turned out to be both gracious and absolutely hilarious; her stories had the whole table in stitches – yet, when she gave her acceptance speech, she moved the room to tears, and received a standing ovation. I was incredibly impressed by her.
TW: What is the decision process when selecting the winners of the Women of the Year Awards?
LS: In the end, it comes down to a gut feeling – who are the women who have lit up our year? Personally, I was moved to tears by seeing Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe finally liberated and reunited with her family, so I wanted to have her at the event with her husband and daughter. I also loved Sonia Boyce’s extraordinary winning exhibit at the Venice Biennale, so we honoured her body of work at the awards ceremony.
TW: You are passionate about championing female leaders through the Bazaar At Work Summit. What changes would you like to see over the next decade to support women in the workplace?
LS: It’s a rather depressing coincidence that the day of Bazaar At Work Summit, in mid-November, hovers around ‘equal pay day’, the date on which the gender pay gap effectively means women start working for free – according to The Fawcett Society, it was November 20 this year. Closing the gap would certainly be a start. I’d also like to see legislation to increase the number of women in senior board positions – for the third year running, only 47 women hold executive directorships in the FTSE 250. If you don’t have women in decision-making positions, they can’t have an impact on making the workplace more female-friendly.