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At the age of 34, Ruth Hunt became one of the youngest CEOs in the country. At 39, she became the youngest cross-bench peer. Ruth is a graduate of St Hilda’s College, Oxford and former President of the University of Oxford Student Union.
As CEO of Stonewall, Europe’s largest LGBT equality charity, Ruth Hunt more than doubled the income, while extending the organisation’s campaigning remit to include trans communities. In her 14 years at Stonewall, Ruth worked her way up through the policy and campaigning team, during which time the UK took huge steps towards equality for LGBT people. Legislative landmarks included equal marriage and equal adoption rights for same sex couples and a public consultation on the reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
Having come out at just 13, Ruth Hunt would be the first to say that these are not achievements in spite of being a woman, a lesbian. To the contrary, Hunt’s natural ability to deconstruct and grapple with complex situations and perspectives has been honed by her own identity, and the need to articulate it to herself, others, and in defence of persecuted LGBT people around the world. It’s what led her to understand the fundamental link between workplace performance, employment satisfaction, and the space for staff to work and lead in their own way. Fostering collective and inclusive leadership is what she strived to implement at Stonewall, and through Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme, supported 700 organisations to achieve as well. The most senior players across some of Britain’s biggest institutions seek advice and insight from Hunt. That experience and insight is what led to her being called to serve as a life crossbench peer in 2019.
Voted number one in The Independent’s World Pride Power List 2019, it is exactly this articulation, delivered with a brevity and wit that belies expectations, which has built empathy and shaped conversations towards momentous change. And there’s little that Hunt can’t speak to. Externally, Hunt’s tenure of CEO of Stonewall was subject to extensive scrutiny, both via her 25k followers on twitter and the national media, while internally she faced the challenges of managing a millennial-heavy workplace where the professional is both personal and political. Additionally, the supposed incompatibility between being a person of faith and LGBT is a matter into which Hunt has unique insight.
Currently, Ruth Hunt is a director of organisational change consultancy Deeds and Words (which she co-founded with her partner Caroline), and is hugely enjoying the contrast of growing a business with the fight for social justice and a kinder type of politics from the crossbenches.