This International Women's Day, I interviewed Leanne England, head of finance at ETF Partners and she shared her thoughts on how we can #BreakTheBias.
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.
1. Which bias would you like to break about women at work in 2022?
I think it has to be the assumption that women aren’t ambitious, or they don’t want progression because they have children; or similarly, that because they have requested to work compressed hours, part-time or flexibly that they aren’t ambitious and fully capable of holding down a senior role. Generally, the focus needs to switch to delivery and achievements rather than how long you spend in the office.
2. What is your top advice for making job descriptions more inclusive?
I think making it clearer what is essential, if something isn’t essential then don’t list it as such. Also, avoiding adjectives such as ‘competitive’ and ‘determined’, whereas the use of words like ‘collaborative’ and ‘cooperative’ are more inclusive, and the indication is it will be a nicer place to work!
3. Do you think that more companies adopting a hybrid working pattern has helped to shift pre-conceived conceptions about flexible working for women and why?
Honestly, it depends on the industry as well as the company. I am lucky that I’ve been hybrid working in some form since 2018 and value that flexibility. However, I don’t think the adoption of hybrid working has, or will, really offer any change when considering flexible working requests with regards to compressed or reduced hours - especially within a service industry where providers are tied to Service Level Agreements and the potential impact on delivery by the management team.
4. What advice would you give aspiring women in the industry you work in?
Don’t automatically think bigger is better and rule out smaller firms – you get a lot of exposure and experience at smaller firms quickly and generally a more well-rounded understanding than larger firms where things can be segregated.
This cannot be said enough - choose a manager and not a company. I am lucky to have had some amazing managers and mentors in my career whose opinions I really value and who have developed and championed me throughout my career even when I haven’t had that confidence in myself.
5. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Imposter Syndrome and a lack of confidence! Women need to stop apologising for taking up space. Believe in yourself. You’re in the room for a reason. Make sure to show that – get your points across and make sure to claim your ideas.