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Breaking the mould on International Women’s Day

Breaking the mould on International Women’s Day
March 8, 2021 Leah Bradley

Whilst headway has been made in gender equality, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to women’s representation in senior and leadership positions. However, in celebration of International Women’s Day, V Formation shines a spotlight on some of our female clients and how they have broken the mould in their workplace.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

According to the 2020 Annual Report from the Women and Work All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), the representation of women in senior or leadership positions varies largely across different sectors. Cranfield University published in its 2020 Female FTSE Board Report that the percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards was just 34.5% and only 31.9% on FTSE 250 boards. This is actually fairly representative of our own client base.

The statistics in the report show that although progress is being made towards gender parity, the pace is slow, and may now have been hindered by the global pandemic, which has shed an interesting light on gender inequality when it comes to balancing work commitments with childcare, home schooling and other responsibilities, as highlighted by The Guardian.

From a business perspective talent is being missed. This needs to be rectified for future generations of women, and for the businesses they could contribute to.

Sue Carr, Director of V Formation, comments:

International Women's Day“V Formation is a female-led marketing and PR agency, and I am personally proud of the fact that I have supported the growth of the business alongside raising a family. From an early age I have been inspired by both female and male role models and I have not consciously let gender influence or limit my career choices. That said, there is clearly still a gender imbalance in the workplace with some industries more affected than others. International Women’s Day seeks to raise awareness of this as well as celebrating women’s achievements, and, as a mother of two teenage daughters, I hope that by helping to bring this issue to the forefront, they too will be provided with exciting opportunities and possibilities irrespective of their gender.”

Choose to Challenge

This year’s campaign theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements, which is what we’ve chosen to do in this blog.

Here we share some comments and thoughts from a few of our female clients who hold senior or leadership positions in their business, and get their take on gender equality. We hope this encourages and inspires young women to also break the mould and aim for the top.

Lucy Cheatham, Head of Marketing and Senior Board Member at HIVE360, says that gender inequality and motherhood hasn’t affected her career: 

International Women's Day

“Personally, I don’t feel I’ve lost out on opportunities to men due to being a woman – maybe that’s due to my choice of career in marketing and my preference for smaller entrepreneurial businesses which value creativity, results and experience over gender stereotypes, or maybe I have just naively not focused in on my gender as being a differentiator or limiter in my career.

The pressures of being a working mum have just been part of life, and I feel have allowed me to develop some strong skills that have helped me to become a better manager, leader and professional. Juggling kids and a demanding career teach you how to use your time wisely, and being a mum helps you develop some of the softer skills like empathy, influencing ‘challenging’ behaviours, and being resourceful.”

Celean Camp, CEO of FRAME, echo’s the concerns of the Women and Work APPG:

International Women's Day“I count myself fortunate to work in areas – both charities and alternatives research – where women seem to be well-represented; however, I am still acutely aware of how far there is to go for true equality. One of my key concerns has been the availability of high level part-time and flexible roles. I know too many bright, committed, highly qualified women who have been forced into jobs that don’t use their core skills or training, after having had children, due to inflexible employers, presenteeism demands and lack of imagination about how work can be done. This is such a waste in my view. Since being in a position to do so I’ve seen it as a responsibility to offer all roles, including the most senior, with flexible working and hours options. It’s amazing what you can make work when you focus on what needs doing and the right person to do it. How, when and where it gets done is, in many cases, far less important.”

It seems that while some sectors have done well at breaking the barriers in gender equality at the top, there are still others that have a long way to go. If we keep talking and celebrating the successes of women in business, particularly on International Women’s Day, then hopefully we’ll continue to break the mould and women will become better represented in leadership positions across all sectors.