As a woman, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a leader and an ardent women’s rights advocate, it’s been pretty special to bear witness to the rise of support for gender equality this past year. Having a day to remember how truly epic, powerful and significant women are, especially in a post-Weinstein era, has never been more crucial. We’ve watched women find their voices, and seen the world begin to listen more actively.
With current movements like #TimesUp and #MeToo which took the world by storm — the voices that demand gender equality are getting louder than ever. However, it’s still so important for men and women alike to keep supporting equality and driving the empowerment of women everywhere.
This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the strong and courageous women who are pushing us toward a more equal future.
So, has life changed for women at work?
Many of us are lucky to work for companies where gender equality is both a guiding principle and a common best practice. However, this is not the case everywhere. According to the UN, globally women make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. And regrettably, the gap only seems to be growing.
Why should you care about International Women’s Day?
Recent years have seen a huge surge in the number of businesses around the world recognising IWD. There is rising acknowledgement that women’s rights affect us all, and that we need to strive for more female representation at all levels of business.
We know the gender diversity in the workplace produces significant benefits. Studies have shown that a gender-diverse workplace positively effects employee engagement, retention and financial returns.
As a woman who took the leap to set up Executive Partnerships, the safest bet would have certainly been to stay put at the FTSE I started out my working life in. Going at it solo is not for the faint of heart. Some of the leaders I admire are women who are taking risks, who are very assertive about their vision and are unapologetic about the pursuit of that vision.
We know that female entrepreneurs have it tough. Balancing responsibilities, the proven lack of funding for female led businesses, defying social expectations, fear of failure and imposter syndrome are only a few that come to mind. I have found that having access to a relevant network, the opportunity for continued learning and consulting with a “mentor” has proven invaluable.
As a predominately female business, Executive Partnerships flies the flag for female leadership and empowering women in the work place. Celebrating IWD doesn’t have to involve big or public gestures… you can do it in your own, personal way. Below are some of the ways that we keep connected.
Reading compelling books by women
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. A novel set in 1930s Korea and Japan, detailing the struggles of a woman living in poverty.
This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets. Set in the Spanish town Cadaques, a woman struggles with the realisation of her mother’s death.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi. An epic saga of love and identity, Americanah is an examination of race in American and Nigerian life.
Listening to empowering TED Talks by women
Over the last few years, there have been hundreds of incredible TED Talks by women. These are just a few of the powerful, controversial and thought-provoking talks out there.
We should all be feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Color blind or color brave? By Mellody Hobson.
Access to “How to Academy” events.
How to Empower Women – Melinda Gates
From Obama to Judaism – Speechwriter Sarah Hurwitz on her spiritual journey
Finally, someone who I look up to for continual inspiration is my mother.
My mother founded a textiles import business with my father 20 years ago, and launched the e-commerce side of the business which grew to be the largest online seller of swimwear in the UK. She is a formidable business woman and has been a guiding voice to me throughout my career. Over the years, she has organised countless charity events and raised money to help build a school in India. She volunteers weekly at a homeless shelter, and often goes above and beyond, organising events, baking and often acting as a mentor to the young people she supports.
Even after the sudden passing of my father, she continues to travel the world with zeal and a zest for life that is utterly admirable. Watching her embark on her numerous adventures inspires me. Her curiosity, her risk-taking, her courage.
She loves to travel for all its joy and possibility, for the opportunity to see things from a different perspective, to step outside the boundaries of life as she knows it, if only for a little while.
Whether she is (foolishly) picking up hitchhikers in Sydney, traveling through the endless beaches of Goa, braving beautiful Thailand and the madness of the Khaosan Road markets. Driving the Great Ocean Road with her lifelong pal and traveling companion, Bronwen. Bunking in tree huts in Sri Lanka, leaping from boat decks, sleeper trains to tea plantations or jumping on jet skis. Age is only but a number!
But most importantly, my mother has taught me to notice and marvel in the little things about a place. Things like watching the tide draw the ocean across your toes, sharing a rum with friendly Jamaican locals and always, always eating from the road side Roti Van! This acute and conscious ability to notice the small but essential details. The moments. The things in life that make you grateful.