International Women’s Day is a valuable opportunity for us to pause and reflect on the progress that has been made with gender equality and diversity in our society, and more importantly, on the challenges that remain for women in all aspects of their lives.
Houston asked the team to share their thoughts on what the day means to them, the barriers that women continue to face and how successfully the PR and communications industry is tackling gender equality.
Kate Hoare, Managing Director:
“For me, IWD begins at home. I’ve been incredibly lucky in that throughout my life I’ve been surrounded by truly accessible role models of women and men, who, whether at home, at school or in the work place, have worked hard to champion gender equality and even the playing field. There have been times in my own career when gender inequality has come from nowhere and smacked me in the face, but each time, being able to look to that support network and those examples has been fundamental to rebuilding my confidence.
Though we have come a long way on these issues, there is still a huge hill to climb. The challenges for working women are much more complex and deep seated than people often realise and the pace of change is still too slow. That said, I know the barriers that my mother and my grandmothers hit in their day to day lives are much higher than the ones we face today and watching my own little girl skip back to education today with her head held high gives me great hope for the future.”
Polly Fairbank, Account Manager:
“For me, International Women’s Day is about visibility and encouraging this across the world we work in. Visibility of all the great things women are doing, and also really important areas which need more work to help create a more equal playing field.”
Laura Stewart, Account Director:
“For me, International Women’s Day means recognising the brilliant progress that has been made in attitudes towards women, particularly in the workplace, but a reminder that there is still a very, very long way to go: there is still a huge gender pay gap in this country; a lot of us still experience everyday sexism, every day.
There is not enough support for women who want to have a career and be mothers; and sadly but most crucially, domestic abuse and sexual violence towards women in the UK is still unacceptably common.”
Alexander Clelland, Director:
“International Women’s Day is an incredibly important day to celebrate the achievements and progress in the ongoing struggle for equality for women globally. This is not a time for complacency – there are still too many everyday examples of discrimination that need to be eradicated. We can each of us play our part in our daily lives in being the change we want to see in the world.”
Jessica Maciazek, Account Executive:
“International Women’s Day is a celebration of achievement and championing how far we have come as people and professionals. I think the industry is changing and women are focusing less on being how they are perceived alongside male counterparts personally, but that doesn’t mean things have completely changed.
I still think there is a long way to go for certain PR sectors. It’s evident that we are seeing an increasing number of women in leadership positions but we shouldn’t have to fight for these positions just because of gender, nor should it be approached as a corporate ‘tick-boxing’ tactic.
I still think there is a level of ‘respect’ women need to fight for and a subconscious battle with self-doubt, regardless of their seniority level but the more awareness we raise around this, the more barriers we can breakdown.”
Fiona Call, Account Manager:
“It is important that we look back on the progress that has been made and the opportunities that women have today compared to years or even decades ago. We are seeing more women reaching senior leadership positions and visibility of this has definitely improved.
From my experience working in communications, I have had the privilege of working alongside so many smart, talented and ambitious women but there is definitely work to be done to encourage more women from more diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds to join our industry.”
Ben Robinson, Account Executive:
“It’s important to celebrate the achievements of all women across all industries, raising awareness of the everyday issues that many still face. It’s a day to show that anyone can be successful.”
Anushka Mathew, Account Director:
“Let us not make inclusivity just a tick box exercise. For true change, we must challenge bias, empower women to deal with challenges like imposter syndrome and only then we can we work towards eliminating inequality.”