International Women’s Day falls on March 8th every year. A time for recognising women’s achievements, it also encourages action and change for the future to ensure gender equality, female empowerment, and challenges to stereotypes and bias. This past year has certainly been a full one – from the #metoo movement to the call to action behind the TimesUp campaign.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress. Its aim is to highlight women coming together to tackle the issues they face as a community:
— Pull quote from website: “Now, more than ever, there's a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. There's a strong call to #PressforProgress motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.”
How will you #PressforProgress in 2018?
“Collective action and shared responsibility for driving gender parity is what makes International Women's Day successful,” is the message behind this year’s theme. No matter your gender or background, you can pledge your support to the #PressforProgress campaign in a variety of ways. Simply click this link.
A better world
After the revelations of how much women are paid in relation to their male counterparts, it’s important that women continue to #PressforProgress in the workplace and receive recognition for the hard work they put in. Many celebrities and women who have an available platform to share their views and press for change are doing so, opening up the channels of conversation and encouraging everyone to get involved.
Emma Watson recently posted on Instagram "All of us are responsible for creating change, whatever industry you work in. We're asking everyone to help create a world we can be proud of - one that is safe, just and equal".
Women are not only in business across the capital, they’re owning it. The landscape is shifting, and there are more articles and spaces where women at work are given the time and space they deserve to add to the conversations we have about business as a whole. Pop culture is also pointing towards a celebration of women taking the lead in business – from Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In to books like #Girlboss. They bring to the surface the issues that women face in the workplace and provide a hefty amount of inspiration.
Progress at Workspace
At Workspace we take equality seriously and regularly celebrate women in the workplace who are out there making a real difference. Our recent WBI Event on Design Thinking featured an all-female panel, and we regularly have talented and accomplished women speaking at our events, featuring in interviews you can read on our site and, more importantly, leading in businesses based across our London locations.
Emily Bendell is just one of these women and she featured on the cover of our latest issue of HomeWork magazine. the founder of Bluebella, a multi-award-winning lingerie brand based at The Light Box in Chiswick. On target for sales of £4.7 million this year, and fresh from a £1 million fundraiser on Crowdcube, the brand is stocked in ASOS and Topshop, and even collaborated with Fifty Shades of Grey on a lingerie range.
In an interview with magazine Marie Claie, Emily answered the question ‘who inspires you?’ “I have many – usually women and not always in business. Grit and determination inspires me. From Ellen Johson Sileaf, Africa’s first female elected leader and an incredible supporter of women, to Victoria Beckham, who has an incredible work ethic and such brilliant instincts.
When asked which career achievement she is most proud of, Emily said “I am proud of having been invited to both Buckingham Palace and Number 10 Downing Street. When I started out there was still a real stigma around our product range and these two invites really showed me how much the world had moved on.”
Brooke Roberts-Islam has spoken at more than one of our WBI events. Brooke is Co-Director at Brooke Roberts Innovation Agency (BRIA) and a Fashion Tech Writer and Lecturer. BRIA creates material-tech collaborations and products, as well as technology-led installations for brands from sectors spanning fashion, technology, healthcare, smart homes and IoT.
Brooke shared her insight and passion for women in the workplace:
“The importance is clear and obvious. We make up half of the population but effect far disproportionately lower degrees of influence on design and business. There’s an - at times - unconscious bias men have in design and business that I have seen result in deeply masculine cultures and products. This doesn’t make good business sense.
“In terms of encouraging women into these fields I would say it is important to remember that entrepreneurship requires a vast array of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills and using both as appropriate aids success.
“I would also say that innovation and building a business is in many respects a marathon, not a sprint, so a focused approach over time can alleviate pressures that may make you feel you want to quit because progress isn’t as fast as you hoped or is not at all linear.
“The ‘Bigger, faster, stronger’ approach that is sometimes described as ‘alpha’ is a real turn-off in some business scenarios, so if you can harness your special talent/skill/insight and remember that the road ahead is likely to take you down all sorts of side roads on the way to where you want to go (pivoting your business is an example of this), then entrepreneurship and innovation can be extremely rewarding.”
Marnie Ashe is General Manager of Reload Digital based at The Leather Market. Working for a digital marketing agency that’s experienced a major growth spurt has taught her a lot about facing challenges head on. She was a part of our celebration of women in business back in September 2017.
“Working in London had always been a career aspiration for me and I was fortunate that I was working in a company that has a strong commitment to internal career progression. Since arriving in London, I haven’t looked back. My work is so diverse, each and every day is different and offers new challenges.
My biggest leadership take away has been to stop talking and listen to your team. I think as people start out in leadership roles, there can be a tendency to want to solve everyone’s problems with advice and a fear of silence when having one on one conversations. One of the most valuable things you can do as a leader is slow down conversations, ask the right questions and really listen to the response, not just wait for your next opportunity to speak or preparing to ask another question.”
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