International Women’s Day: a time for reflection, a time for action
Today is International Women’s Day, a chance for us to reflect on how far we have come and also how much further we still need to go.
The first official National Woman’s Day, was held in New York in 1909 to promote equal rights, including women’s suffrage (a right which millions of women around the world are still not afforded).
The history of International Women’s Day is fascinating but what’s clear is that for time immemorial, women have had to fight to be heard, understood, respected. Although much progress in the UK has been made, these struggles still exist in many workplaces. So, what’s the solution? Our female Teamsters share their thoughts:
Sally Tarbit, Director and Head of Brand Activation:
“The path to true gender equality still feels like a long one so I will use this day to challenge myself and ask if I have done enough to drive progress, make the change happen and change the situation. I want to ensure this is firmly on the agenda, not just for one day a year, but every day.
My advice for women is to find your allies. Most men are good people who are acutely aware of gender equality and the need to address it. The main challenge is empathy – understanding what it’s like to walk in our shoes (and vice-versa). Take time to explain, reframe an issue from your point of view. Persevere. You’ll soon find out who wants to help, not hinder.”
Jennifer Robinson, Employee Engagement Consultant:
“The difference between me feeling confident to raise gender bias and not has always been having access to an easy and comfortable space with leadership where the “this is probably stupid but…” thoughts are free to flow without judgement. Of course concerns are very rarely stupid but some unhelpful bias are so deep-rooted it’s easy to think that’s just the way it is.”
Hayley Exon, Reward and Recognition Director:
“There is still so much work to be done at leadership level – in particular, I think it’s important that representation at the top is diverse, equitable and inclusive. This is backed up by McKinsey & Co research which shows that companies with the greatest gender diversity on their executive teams are 21% more likely to outperform peers on profitability, and 27% more likely to create superior value.
I remember reading the Alison Rose review on female entrepreneurship – 2019 (updated in 2021) and this section really made me think:
“To make the UK the most attractive place to do business, we need the creativity and innovation that comes from diversity of thought in order to keep up with the rapidly changing world around us. Women do not lack ability or ambition – Yet only 1 in 3 UK entrepreneurs are female: a gender gap equivalent to 1.1 million missing businesses.
Female-led businesses are only 44% of the size of male-led businesses on average, in terms of their contribution to the economy, and male SMEs are five times more likely to scale up to £1million turnover than female SMEs which highlights issues around entrepreneurial gender inequality.””
Mussarat Rahman, Head of Marketing:
“A few months back, I saw a quote which really resonated with me: “we’re the generation who will teach their sons to act respectfully, instead of teaching their daughters to beware.”
Educating men and women alike on what inappropriate behaviour towards women is, is crucial. How many times have we as women made excuses for bad behaviour, brushing it off as “no big deal” or blaming ourselves with “maybe I led them on”.
Years ago, I saw a fantastic campaign which depicted various cases of sexual harassment in the workplace (all based on real events) to highlight behaviours that are unacceptable and to end institutional silence and complicity. The films were designed to empower victims and bystanders to speak out and provide tools for employers to create a safe work environment – it’s a real eye-opener!
One of the key issues surrounding sexual misconduct in the workplace is that 80% of the women affected by sexual harassment do not report it. Why? Many fear that it would have a negative impact on their career and working relationships, others were worried they wouldn’t be believed or taken seriously.
Here’s where a good HR team comes in. Prioritise building a HR department that stands by it’s people, not just it’s senior leaders. If employees feel like they can be open and honest about their issues without negative consequence, you’ll be able to identify issues within the business far more effectively.”
Laura Ring, Designer:
“Embedding a culture of mutual respect is vital in the workplace. Education and awareness around gender bias and overcoming stereotypes would help promote a greater level of understanding for both men and women which will ultimately lead to a more positive working environment.
Translating this understanding into working conditions that suit everyone, should be the goal for every business.”
The Team have been in the business of creating brands and design experiences that drive positive change for 40 years. Specialising in employee engagement, brand strategy and brand activation, we are a blend of consultants, strategists, and designers who connect people to brands to drive business success.
Using insight, behavioural science and our unique approach to brand, we work with you to create trust with the people that matter most.