Today is International Womens’ day. A day that was started by the infamous Suffragettes in the early 1900’s and over a hundred years later continues to drive the ten core values of:
This year’s campaign theme is #beboldforachange and is about taking action whether that’s striving for equality, achievement, advancement, education or against violence.
Women continue to make advancements in the workplace though they still earn 18.1% less than their male counterparts and its estimated to take another 24 years until that gap closes according to PWC. And shockingly there are currently more men called John leading FTSE 100 companies than women.
I’m lucky in that I work for a large corporate where International Womens day is recognised and regular activity happens to help support women in the workplace. That said, I still see gender prejudice at work all the time, its real and it happens even when there is a strategy in place. But, I feel empowered that there are some formidable women driving this agenda at my work and driving it hard. Recently, we have seen a flurry of females reach senior positions and for the first time have a female General Manager in the UK.
Many of the women I work with have such incredible talent and drive yet they are not just career focused, these are women that have families, that run a home and even some run additional businesses. What they all have though is a remarkable ability to balance. For so many women it’s a continuous juggling act, even without children I can find it tough to keep all the balls in the air.
More than ever before we are being told that as women we can ‘have it all’ with that comes incredible opportunity, we can be mothers we can have careers but the flip side is that we can find ourselves exhausted. I often said to my husband that ‘clean clothes don’t magically appear in cupboards, food doesn’t magically appear in the fridge and the house doesn’t mysteriously clean itself.’ We have a LOT of stuff to do, and a lot of roles to play. We still, for the most part, own the more traditional aspect of our lives – the keeping house, making a home, bringing up children, keeping everything going. That’s all still delegated to us really and often we’re also trying to develop a career and that can be hard work. Really hard work.
But I’m not moaning, women are good at this stuff. We know how to multitask, we can hold it together and even on the days that we can’t we need to recognise that really, we are nailing it.
I know that for me personally, there is a certain amount of ‘Sasha Fierce’ game face required especially when at work or in a tough situation but underneath that gives way to a much softer, often vulnerable ‘real me’ and as Queen B says herself, people can expect the ‘Sasha Fierce’ all the time but that person is strictly for the stage’
Accepting that inner vulnerability has been a real learning experience. Having been dealt a tough hand recently I found myself struggling to keep up my game face 100% of the time. Females are emotional creatures, we generally embrace our emotions more than men do and that can leave us feeling open and vulnerable sometimes. But in showing that side, and not having to keep up a brave face all the time, has actually been an incredibly liberating experience. It’s helped me accept the love and support of others, helped me accept elements of myself and was almost like a massive sigh of relief. And it’s been that female power that’s helped me, the caring and protective nature that women possess that has helped me find my own strength.
And that’s why, on international womens day, as well as the more traditional topics of gender equality and advancement, I’m thinking about just what an amazing job so many women do, and why the values of respect and empathy are so important. Understanding one another and being kind to ourselves as well as others. There’s no place for bitchiness or unhealthy competitiveness. Instead we should remember sisterhood and that girls should stand together and support each other.
It isn’t about hating men, it isn’t about saying that women are better, it’s about recognising our own internal value strength and that ‘we are enough.’ I even have that written on my mirror, in lipstick.
Sasha Fierce was born when I did ‘Crazy in Love.’ People, when they meet me, expect that all the time, but that person is strictly for the stage.” – Beyonce, People Magazine, November 18th, 2008