Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. The IWD 2023 campaign theme seeks to forge worldwide understanding about why equal opportunities aren’t enough, and a focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA.
International Women’s Day belongs to everyone, everywhere. Collectively, we can all help create a diverse, equitable and inclusive world.
1. How can companies strive for more equitable talent attraction?
I think that flexibility is the key here, and post-pandemic, we have a real opportunity to take the best parts of hybrid working to support an inclusive and equitable strategy. We can and need to be less focused on presenteeism and should be more focused on contribution and outcomes.
2. Within your market/industry sector, what progress have you seen businesses take to progress gender equity?
There has been progress, but there is still a long way to go. I still attend events where men significantly outnumber the women in the room and we still need to see more progress in some firms at executive level, as well as amongst the non-executive board members.
3. What is one action companies can take to further balance their talent attraction strategies?
There are many, but if I pick one, I would say it’s around challenging the status quo and avoiding groupthink. Many companies end up with ‘go-to’ people that are chosen for key projects. Are you being brave enough in challenging how you do that? Could you take a risk to give different people opportunities?
4. What is your top advice for making job descriptions more inclusive?
Look at the language and think about who you are appealing to and, conversely, who you may be discouraging from applying. In the end, all we have are words when we are trying to find the best people in the market – make sure every word counts and reflects who you are as well as what you want to achieve.
5. 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?
It has helped bust some myths for everyone, but there are still some deeply held views amongst some. The pandemic showed us what was possible, but we also developed some unhealthy habits – such as back-to-back Teams meetings for hours at a time. We need to take the best of what we have learned, and design something for the future.
6. What does being an effective ally for women look like to you?
Having a voice and using it. I also think it’s important to try to be a role model to help people to see that there are different ways to lead and to succeed.
7. What advice would you give women in the industry you work in?
It’s the advice I would give anyone, but it's that you should be prepared to take a risk from time to time - whether that is in moving roles or volunteering for a new initiative or project. And don’t think you have to have mastered everything before you give something a go!
8. International Women’s Day is also about celebrating women and their achievements. What woman/women inspire you?
Like many people, I have really admired Jacinda Ardern over the last few years for her calm, measured and competent leadership. The other person I have admired is Julia Gillard – only this week, someone pointed me towards her famous ‘misogyny speech’, and I agree that it’s definitely worth a watch.
9. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I am afraid I have to say that it is bias – both conscious and unconscious. There are still not enough role models at the top of organisations, and still too many examples of outright bias. We have to keep working at this and we need everyone to play their part to really move the dial.