International Women's Day
Today marks an incredible opportunity to reflect on where we stand with equality in the world today; it’s the chance to share personal stories and for leaders to remind themselves of the importance of providing opportunities to those who don’t believe it can be possible.
Across the world, there are still women and girls with no access to education, where it’s not acceptable to play sport, have a voice or be an individual in their own right. I feel very privileged that because of the hard work, fight and determination of some incredible women that came before me, I work in a balanced organisation that believes in giving equal opportunity regardless of gender, background, education and race. I take this for granted most of the time (which many of us do) but today let’s be mindful that being treated as an equal is still not happening everywhere and there’s still much to be done.
This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is balance for better. Balance is key to ensuring that the right actions happen for the right reasons. Every person should have the same chance in life to achieve their goals using their skills, hard work and talent regardless of gender. It’s not about fulfilling a quota or improving a statistic; it’s about treating people as individuals, understanding them, identifying potential and doing all we can to help them realise it.
I really encourage companies to ensure they are offering flexibility to people in their business who need it – for example, working parents and those with elderly relatives or families to support. These people can be absolute gems who, with the right support from their employers, can go on to achieve amazing things and be a huge asset to an organisation. I am an example of this as helped by the support of my managers, I became the Head of Office Angels with over 300 staff, something I never anticipated or dreamt would be possible!
I’ve been so fortunate to have strong male and female role models, supporters and mentors who have taken the time to understand me and supported me throughout my career. A balanced, diverse and inclusive workforce brings in many more opportunities, differing views and is proven to make businesses more successful – and I have seen from my own experience, that this is absolutely the case.
My advice is to think carefully about the experience and skills you need within your team, be flexible and make sure you take the time to nurture people. Your employees may not ask for help or they may lack self-belief to achieve their goals. They may just need the right support in place so they can balance family and work commitments before taking the next step forward in their career. If you can provide this, you will reap the rewards - and you could end up with some of your most loyal, long-standing and most valuable employees.
Kate Garbett, Executive Director, Office Angels