Inspirational Woman: Paola Diana | Women’s Rights Ambassador, Political Campaigner, Author & Podcast Host

Paola Diana

Paola Diana, who is the City of London advisor on Women’s Rights, has spent her entire career championing women in business and is the author of bestselling women’s rights manifesto Saving the World.  

Diana is the CEO of two hugely successful recruitment companies, Artemide Recruitment and Nanny & Butler both of which she owns outright and are market leaders in global recruitment. Her client base includes Fortune 500 CEOs, high-net-worth individuals, royalty, and celebrities and her staff is made up of 90% women.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role

I have many roles and a strong purpose that aligns my thoughts and my actions and make my days meaningful. I am a mother, I am a boss, I am an author and an advisor, I am a speaker and a host, I am an eternal student and an avid reader. I thrive in being able to tell my story and inspire other women and girls, and I strongly believe that enlightened men have to fight the battle with us: the battle of female empowerment and freedom from male violence and abuse.

What inspired you to become a women’s campaigner?

My past. I want to do everything that is possible in order to free women and girls from violence and abuse. I was born a lioness, but early on I was put in a cage of anger, coercive controlling behaviour, emotional abuse, and violence. I freed myself from that cage and the involved trauma and now I am giving back to society in order to break all those damn cages.

How do you think we can help forge women’s equality?

Healthy democracies are ready to offer equal rights and equal opportunities, it is only a matter of time. The era of women is coming. The fate of a country becoming a democracy is bound to the fate of women’s rights and vice versa. Fighting for a democratic political system will inevitably bring recognition of the fundamental role that women play in our society and the importance of respecting and promoting women’s rights.

Equality is one of the founding values of my company – it’s very important to me that we don’t discriminate against anyone on gender, nationality, religion, skin colour or how they look, we base our evaluation on experience, merit, and education. In regard to my own employees, I consider motherhood to be a master’s degree in life and not in any way negative to my business. I value my female staff more when they come back to work with this new experience.

Any business can empower women if you give them the possibility to grow, thrive, earn a fair salary and achieve their dreams. I love to employ women, as they are focused, hard-working and resilient.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Being a mother to two now wonderful young adults and empowering women through my life example, my words, my actions, and my book.

My children make me proud every day, they really are my best achievement in life, and I’m learning from them every day. My son was raised to be very respectful of his sister and of his mother. In order to live together we need to respect and comprehend each other. I always talk to them a lot. I think communication is the key to growing united and avoiding misunderstandings while learning from each other.

Which women inspire you the most?

The ones who are truly good and generous towards other women and the ones who never give up. Life can be brutal, you have to learn to fight back. I have drawn particular inspiration from both Sara Blakely and Elizabeth Arden.

Sara Blakely was once a door-to-door fax machine salesperson. Now, she’s known as the founder of Spanx, a billion-dollar company that sells undergarments, leggings, and swimwear. I love her mindset, she is not afraid of failure, she embraces failure. She came up with a small idea that had big potential and she believed in the idea so much that she was able to win people over to her way of thinking despite not having a background as an entrepreneur. To be successful you need to have the right mindset as well as a good idea.

Elizabeth Arden was orphaned at a young age, she worked as a nurse and faced many failures and it wasn’t until she was 30 that she decided to become an entrepreneur after she started searching for a beauty cream. The major lesson from Elizabeth’s life is to never give up. She was passionate about following her dreams. Always be ready to take up risks to reach your dream. Persistence and confidence are major factors that aid you in your journey towards success. Failure is a part of life. Never give up after a few. They are the stepping stones towards your success.

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?

My career started in politics in Italy and despite working incredibly hard with long hours and achieving great results I was underpaid.  It was also a sexist culture, men did not believe my success could be because I worked hard and had brains, they had to spread rumours that my success was due to favouritism from my seniors, suggesting that I only got the job because of my looks and not due to my abilities. This could not be further from the truth, men just could not handle competition from a successful woman.

After I got my bachelor’s degree, no one would offer me a job because I was a mother of 2 young children, they thought I couldn’t be a mother and work hard. I solved that problem. I started my own company!

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

The secret of success is self-esteem. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. And people will try to tear you apart, particularly at the beginning. Starting a business is very challenging. To be a founder can be lonely, risky, and stressful. You need to be steady, to really believe in yourself, in your capabilities, your knowledge and your resilience. It’s not how many times you fall, we all fall. What makes the difference is how you stand up again.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

One day you will laugh at your current problems. There is always the light after the darkness.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I am writing my second book and I want to amplify my voice, to help inspire as many women as possible to change the world.

Paola Diana is a Women’s Rights Ambassador, Political Campaigner, Author and Podcast Host. Find out more at

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