Edwina Dunn: ‘The workplace has been designed for men, by men’

The entrepreneur shares her experience as a woman in business

Listen | 64:08

When Edwina Dunn was a young girl, she dreamed of becoming a long distance truck driver and living a very glamorous life on the road.

While she didn’t go on to achieve that goal, she did become a very successful business woman and the brains behind the Tesco Clubcard, the first and largest loyalty card in the world.

In the early 1990s, she and her husband Clive brought their expertise in data science to the boardroom of Tesco and helped the retailer double their market share in less than three years, through the now famous loyalty scheme.

“What Tesco were trying to do was get one more visit, or maybe just one more item in the shopping basket, those two items equated to millions and millions of pounds, billions in fact,” she tells Roisin Ingle on the latest episode of The Irish Times Women’s Podcast.

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After selling their stake in Tesco for 93 million pounds, the pair took a bit of time out to enjoy the payout, but ultimately felt the pull to return to work and went on to set up their next company Starcount.

In that time, Edwina also created The Female Lead, a non-profit organisation dedicated to offering women alternative role models to those presented by popular culture.

“We listen to women and we amplify their voices,” she explains.

Dunn also speaks about the “unentitled mindset”, a concept which she coined after noticing women’s confidence levels were lower than their male colleagues, when seeking pay rises and promotions.

“This is not a criticism of women, women are confident, creative and ambitious, but society tilts the platform to men. So the workplace has been designed for men, by men”.

Has she ever found herself experiencing the same self doubt?

“Absolutely, I was underestimated every single step of my career, so you have to be fairly tough,” she reveals.

You can listen back to the full conversation in the player above, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Suzanne Brennan

Suzanne Brennan

Suzanne Brennan is an audio producer at The Irish Times