04 May International Women’s Day – Top Takeaways
We asked five attendees from member organisations for their top takeaways following our recent International Women’s Day event. Here’s what they told us.
Claire Hawkins, Head of Perm, SThree Management Services
Biggest takeaway: This wasn’t a point that was raised but one I noticed from sitting there – and that’s the importance of our male managers being involved at events like this to help drive understanding and communication across the genders at work and therefore increase the support for women coming through the business. And also the importance of driving collaboration between men and women and making gender equality about just that, all genders being equal. It can be quite easy for women to group with other women for support when this defeats the purpose. For me, we need to ensure we can work together equally. It’s important not to stereotype and compound the issue.
Most inspiring: Melanie Forbes, MD for Alexander Mann who is holding and has held incredibly senior positions but was really warm, grounded, down to earth and spoke in a language anyone from a graduate to a senior manager could relate to. Being so ambitious and successful, and responsible for that many people but still staying so human and authentic I found really inspiring!
IWD to me means: Knowing your STRENGTH, understanding your individual value as a woman, celebrating and recognising the value women can add and allowing people to be authentically themselves in any walk of life. To bring their best self everywhere they go. I think this applies to all people not just women but if women lead from the front on this it can be an inspiration to all others. For me IWD is also an opportunity to recognise women and importantly for me, the men, inside and outside our business that support and encourage this and set a great example for gender equality.
Ashley McCluskey, Client Business Manager, Huxley
Biggest takeaway: One of the biggest takeaways for me was the equation of; Strength v Warmth = Powerful. This was a comment from Ann Swain (APSCo CEO) who said that these are the qualities that make people influential or strong leaders, however sometimes when women show strength they can be perceived as cold, and when they show warmth, they can be perceived as weaker. It made me really think about perception and staying true to who you are, whilst trying to find a balance between strength and warmth. All of the women who spoke at the event had evidently found the right balance, and were extremely approachable and warm, but definitely had an inner strength which was visible.
Most inspiring: I found the diversity of women and men at the event inspiring, although heavily women-dominated, it was inspiring to see more men than I imagined would be there. A balance of gender at events for IWD moving forward would be extremely inspirational. The women on the panel all came from different backgrounds and achieved success through various routes, which made them very relatable.
One thing I will change: Angela Middleton gave a piece of advice during the session which was to remain patient; most of the time, things take longer than you think they’re going to. I feel like most of the time I’m pretty patient, but reminding myself of this when things aren’t instantaneous is what I’m going to try to do.
IWD to me means: It means genuine fairness and equality for all, and to remind ourselves to celebrate inspirational people in our lives and in the world. It’s so easy to forget or take for granted what we’ve learned from inspirational women, and men, that taking the time to reflect on this on IWD is really important. It was also lovely to tell those women in our lives that they inspire us and that we are grateful for their influence in our lives.
Claire Beasley, Compliance Manager, Guidant Group
Biggest takeaway: I think that it was really apparent that within a traditional recruitment business, earning potential is still directly tied to bonus structures and achieving sales targets. And this in turn is often only achievable via long working hours, meaning women with commitments outside of work can struggle to get to senior management level. However within recruitment outsourcing, we tend to have a much more flexible working environment and therefore potentially more opportunity to progress. I didn’t feel some of the issues raised during the panel discussion applied to Guidant as much as other staffing businesses and that’s not something I’ve considered before.
Most inspiring: Angela Middleton was hugely inspiring and some of her advice around strength and confidence really resonated.
One thing I will change: I found the advice around salary conversations interesting. I think that asking for more money is always going to be a potentially awkward conversation but I liked Mel’s advice about asking your manager to set your salary based on what they think you are worth, rather than asking for a specific figure.
IWD to me means: I’ve attended a few non-work IWD events that my friends have put on, so to me it is a good opportunity to celebrate women and their attributes (I’m not saying men don’t have these attributes but it is a good feeling to think of inspirational women not just in a work environment but also those that impact your personal life). Women try and be at the top end of their careers, be amazing partners, friends and mums and we often feel like we aren’t on top of everything. We need to cut ourselves some slack and celebrate that there are lots of amazing women in the world!
Charlie Cousens, Senior Consultant, Empiric
Biggest takeaway: To start an initiative for our workplace could create a “what to expect when you’re expecting” document. Something that clearly shows a commitment from the company that they have an interest in helping mothers to be and mothers to have a successful and lucrative future without feeling the need to take a step back. Employers need to demonstrate their commitment and clearly communicate to employees that those returning to work after an absence can still have a successful career without sacrificing family time as I believe this is prevent women exiting the industry.
Most inspiring: In such a competitive market it was refreshing to be around passionate and dedicated females within in the industry. Seeing people share their stories and especially hearing the challenges some have overcome was inspirational, as to, was the support made available.
IWD to me means: Having a community that is supportive and raising the issues that women are facing, moving these issues up the agenda will ultimately will make a difference.
Charlotte Woodward, People Services Director, Guidant Group
Biggest takeaway: The women whose careers have suffered most in recruitment seems to be overwhelmingly mothers.
Most inspiring: Angela Middleton’s interview and how much she has achieved – in her own business but also the contribution she has made to social enterprise.
One thing I will change: I may steal Angela’s idea about her team doing so many ‘steps’ for charity as ‘Health and Exercise’ is our number one Open Blend element at Guidant and it would be good to create some initiatives which support our employees’ desire to get fit.
IWD to me means: A celebration of the strides we have made towards equality since the suffragette movement and women getting the vote.
For further insight from our 2018 International Women’s Day event, read Ann Swain’s interview with Angela Middleton.