So Whose Job is it?

International Women’s Day, was here again with its merry-go-round of the same issues. Inequality at a Boardroom level, the gender pay gap and, in most places around the world, the lack of balance and partnership in the home; not great momentum for a movement that started over a century ago.

The first International Women’s Day in 1911 called for the right to vote across many parts of Europe. Two World Wars shifted the argument in favour of women in the workforce only for the balance to tip back again as soldiers came home and needed jobs.

Raised in England, one of two daughters, I am very aware that my approach to most aspects of life, including work is built on the influences of when and where I grew up. I am fortunate that Dad was a true feminist, firmly believing his “girls” could do anything and gender was irrelevant. Woe betide any of us, Mum included, if we tried to use being members of the “fairer sex” as an excuse and I was often called upon to climb a ladder and help fix the car and build things. Until today I strongly believe that almost anything is possible with a little ingenuity and the right attitude and credit to Dad for inculcating this. So while you may see a large pile of stones, to me it is a dry-stone wall waiting to be built.

Dad was not the only feminist in my life. A rebellious grandmother, Nanny, was a role-model; one of the rare woman able to drive, she stepped up to the pedal when there was a shortage of ambulance drivers throughout the London bombing in WWII. She later taught shell-shocked returning soldiers how to sew stuffed toys by way of therapy before going on the open a highly successful car-repair business in the north of England.

Women of their time

We loved that Nanny lived outside the norm for a woman of her time. It was only later we understood her attitude came from the need to survive and anticipating the future shortage of men on whom any woman could depend, she was a vocal advocate for female independence. So whether it is driving an ambulance, fixing cars, being a seamstress or a business person, she evangelised that every woman must have a skill or trade to be self-supporting whatever happens.


So what is the message here?

In short, as we celebrate the amazing contribution made by women past and present, the landscape of the future is still waiting to be shaped and this is where you come in. Take a moment today to reflect on “Who am I?” as a woman and mother, a colleague, manager or mentor; and this applies to everyone, man or woman. Think as you continue to read the articles surrounding IWD, what does it really mean to you and what will you contribute to changing the landscape for the women of the future.

Parents surely do not need a reminder that real change starts in the nursery but likewise, most of us have opportunities, however small, to lay the foundations for change through the behaviours and attitudes we bring, see and do every single day – and especially in the workplace.

At Priority Consultants, we commit to providing a workspace that supports all of our people; and beyond  gender, there is equally no room for age, race or religious discrimination.  Job candidates get it loud and clear that they will be judged only on merit and asked to please try and leave their preconceptions outside the office and if successful they must sign up to our policy of respect in the workplace. Doubtless this seems a bit odd coming from a Caucasian woman in Asia, until I point out that I have been in the minority throughout my career and while there have been some obvious advantages, it has also brought a fair share of challenges.