Simone Finn, Baroness Finn
Simone Jari Finn, Baroness Finn (born 10 June 1968) is a British Conservative politician and member of the House of Lords. She is a former government adviser on industrial relations, efficiency and civil service reform. She is also a qualified accountant and a strong advocate of diversity.
Early life and education
Simone Finn was born in the USA to a Welsh mother and a father who had defected from Communist Czechoslovakia. She grew up in Swansea and attended her local comprehensive school. She graduated from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, with a degree in History.
Following university Simone trained and worked as an accountant at Coopers & Lybrand (subsequently PwC). She then joined the Financial Services Authority as a senior accountant regulating insurance companies before taking a career break to spend more time with her children.
Recruited before the 2010 election by the Conservative Party's Implementation Team, Finn became the Coalition Government's industrial relations adviser. She played a key role in negotiations with the trade unions and helped to agree deals to roughly halve the cost of public sector pensions. The Daily Telegraph described her as the "silk-and-steel adviser behind the Coalition's trade union reforms". As an adviser to Francis Maude, she helped to drive through his ground-breaking efficiency reforms which saved the taxpayer £50 billion over the course of the 2010 to 2015 Parliament, and "made a name for herself as a crusader for reform and efficiency in government". She helped to introduce improvements in the central leadership of Whitehall to ensure that departments could deliver further savings while reforming their services and programmes. Finn also tackled the Civil Service reform agenda, which ruffled the feathers of some senior mandarins.
Finn was instrumental in encouraging more women to apply for public appointments by helping to set up the Centre for Public Appointments in the Cabinet Office and publishing a diversity strategy that identified and removed obstacles in their way. The Commissioner for Public Appointments recognised these efforts in his Annual Report, where he praised the "excellent progress in appointing women to boards over the last five years, a tribute to the way the last Government energised the whole system to improve gender diversity." The proportion of women appointed to the boards of public bodies reached 42.5% in 2014-15 compared with 34.7% in 2009-10.
Finn also focused on the diversity agenda in the Civil Service which led to the publication of the "Civil Service Talent Action Plan: Removing the Barriers to Success". The plan was backed by rigorous research to ensure that the core principal of recruitment and promotion on merit was not compromised by a narrow focus on targets and instead examined the real barriers faced not only by women but also by those from minority ethnic backgrounds, those with disabilities and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
In her maiden speech in the House of Lords, Finn focused on the importance of education as a tool of social mobility, paying tribute to her former deputy headmistress. She also voiced her support for the Swansea tidal lagoon project.
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