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International Women's Day 2021: Rafaela Fakhre

This International Women's Day, we interviewed some of our team asking them to share their thoughts on how we can #ChooseToChallenge.  

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

Meet Rafaela Fakhre, principal consultant in our actuarial team in the UK.

1. Which assumptions or preconceptions would you like to challenge about women at work in 2021? 

“Women can’t get to the top because of their own life choices”. I think there is still a huge stigma around a women’s career success and building a family (or not!). It is still believed that if a woman chooses to take a career break to raise a family, this will slow down or stop their progression in the workplace and if they decide not to, they are perceived as lonely or miserable. I think we are getting to a point where this idea is slowly fading, but there are certain comments such as, “Congratulations, you are happy, successful and have built a beautiful family – but your kids are ruined now”, the unconscious bias that puts us right back to square 1.

2. Within your market / industry sector, what progress have you seen businesses take to progress gender equality?

We often speak to clients in the insurance world that have strict recruitment requirements in an attempt to progress gender equality. That includes: an anonymous shortlist, with a 50/50 split between males and females.

3. What is one action companies can take to further balance their talent attraction strategies? 

Flexible working has been a topic of much investment this past year and I truly believe it will contribute to a range of different factors, including further balancing their talent attraction strategies. It will allow women to accommodate families and other needs. In addition, analytics is a huge topic in my market at the moment; why not use it to analyse the feedback and evaluations of men and women and understand the patterns to address unconscious bias?

4. What is your top advice for making job descriptions more inclusive?  

Mentioning inclusive benefits like parental leave, childcare assistance, flexible working etc. 

5. Are there any companies you admire for the ways in which they celebrate women's achievements?  

Lane, Clark & Peacock is one who excels in recognising their employees in general, inclusivity, and, of course, women in the workplace.

6. What can organisations do to shift pre-conceived conceptions about flexible working?

Get trapped in a global pandemic! Jokes aside, I think that the pre-conceived conceptions about flexible working have shifted in the past year as we had no other alternative than offering it. It’s important to embrace the change and believe in their people.

7. How can organisations support their employees in raising awareness against bias? 

Acknowledgement of the bias I think would be the first step. Building an environment that is willing to listen, discuss and employees that feel pride in supporting others.