Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. The IWD 2023 campaign theme seeks to forge a 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?
To identify what someone needs to be successful, you have to know what an applicant’s priorities and requirements are. By being as open as possible in the recruitment process you have the advantage of attracting people from a diverse range of backgrounds. Once you have identified what the individual needs, steps can be taken to address how this can be accommodated in alignment with the meeting of business needs.
2. Within your market/industry sector, what progress have you seen businesses take to progress gender equity?
How open a business is to there being an employment offering that attracts women in particular, not only comes down to the policies which it has in place, but the follow through of this both from a line manager perspective, but as importantly, from a senior leadership mentality. Like any successful leadership approach, ‘leading by example’ is invaluable. As more C-suite level individuals adopt an acceptance of female-friendly policies and approaches, then the more it filters down. Of course, in addition to setting the right ethos, practical steps would be the monitoring of gender in the form of applicants, hires, promotions and senior leadership posts. A focus on identifying individuals from female-focused sources is a great way to show to both the industry, as well as internal and external applicants of, a commitment towards this. The covid pandemic and subsequent acceptance by many of the successful ability to work from home has also opened up the option for enhanced gender equality in many, although not all business areas.
3. What is one action companies can take to further balance their talent attraction strategies?
There are a few! Sourcing talent from a variety of resources opens up a varied applicant pool, which may otherwise be overlooked. Building into benefits offerings could be enhanced childcare options and support. Having female-specific policies in place around maternity leave, family-friendly policies and menopause. In a business area traditionally dominated by men, an approach of hiring females and then subsequent training to close any experience gaps which may have resulted from a lack of females in this area, could also be an approach to help with gender balance. Also, cultural acceptance and openness to discuss any of the above without fear of detrimental response is essential.
4. What is your top advice for making job descriptions more inclusive?
People fall into so many categories, and even if we try not to categorise, we should try to take into consideration all who may be viewing the job and how it will come across to them. We should try and ensure that job descriptions are worded in a way that ensures it is open to as wide a range of suitable applicants as possible. With regard to the process, we should try to ensure it is accessible to all.
5. Do you think that more companies adopting a hybrid working pattern have helped to shift pre-conceived conceptions about flexible working for women, and why?
More companies being open to hybrid and flexible working patterns has benefits for all in society regardless of background and gender. However, as a professional who also has family commitments in the shape of three young children, having the opportunity for flexible, part-time and hybrid working is a game changer in being able to re-enter the workforce to continue an office-based career in professional services. With the increase and acceptance of flexible working, there is more opportunity for ‘career’ roles, which traditionally required a full-time occupant, thus limiting opportunities for those with multiple, and often family, commitments.
6. What does being an effective ally for women look like to you?
Creating opportunities for all with flexible working and all that encompasses. Giving those returning to the workplace the opportunity to continue a career and not just a job.
7. International Women’s Day is also about celebrating women and their achievements. What woman/women inspire you?
Jacinda Ardern, ex-Prime Minister of New Zealand (2017-2023). Her attitude and genuine approach to leading stood out to me. Knowing when it was right to serve her country and knowing when it was right to walk away, I believe, showed strength, intuition and an approach to putting her country ahead of herself, which appears rare in Leadership roles. Having charisma, success and power combined with traits such as fairness, directness, an ability to empathise and a moral approach are all things which I value. Being Prime Minister of a country and having a young child is an amazing accomplishment for any woman.