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IWD: #BreakTheBias with Ruth Foster

  • Publish Date: Posted about 2 years ago
  • Author:by Ruth Foster

This International Women's Day, we interviewed some of our team asking them to share their 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.

#BreakTheBias with Ruth Foster, chief people officer at Eames Group in the UK.

1. Which bias would you like to break about women at work in 2022?

The bias that you can’t be a leader if you’re a mother because you absolutely can. You have to find a balance, and that balance is personal to every individual, but it’s very achievable. And, what’s crucial, is an understanding employer who will work with you to outline what that balance looks like. But I think part of the bias sits on the side of women and that we don’t think or “believe” it’s possible – so it’s breaking that bias from all angles. 

 2. What is one action companies can take to further balance their talent attraction strategies?

Balanced talent attraction strategies is almost the easy part. The more challenging part is ensuring inclusion as a “lived experience” upon joining a business. So, for example, if you require flexible working, it’s crucial that consideration has been given during the interview process, and clearly agreed, how that will work. And most importantly, that it’s honoured upon joining so that the expectations are clear and agreed and that flexibility is genuinely supported, rather than having been given lip service. 

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?

Flexible working for everyone has helped with some of the challenges that people (not just women!) face with having worked flexibly in the past. For example, FOMO (fear of missing out) if you’re not in the office and not being “a part of things”. Also, flexible working helps me personally, hugely, with what I call “mummy guilt.” Whilst I’m very driven and ambitious, that can’t come at the expense of being a great mum. So, having flexibility means you can be “there” when that may have been more difficult in the past. Missed nativity performances... are a thing of the past!

4. What advice would you give aspiring women in the industry you work in? 

You have to manage your own mindset, and not put barriers in your own way. There are plenty of barriers and challenges in life but, (saying this as a woman), being a woman isn’t one. It’s the perceived barriers that being a woman brings, that we put in our own way. There can be lots of reasons why that is the case, and we all have to play our part in changing those biases, those perceptions. But, as a woman, put yourself on the front foot from the get-go by managing your own mindset and not letting your success be sabotaged by perceived barriers that you are putting in your own way.