07 / 3 / 2016 10.16am
To celebrate International Women's Day, the diversity and inclusion team is releasing a blog everyday this week, written by female and male leaders on what International Women's Day (IWD) means to them.
Emma Shute and Jenny Pollock, founders of Women to Work, start off the blog series by explaining why they will be celebrating women on 8 March.
Celebrating the contribution of women
Emma Shute and Jenny Pollock, founders of Women to Work.
International Women’s Day – as every year goes by there seems to be more events, more publicity and more coverage of its importance. Is that simply because we work in this sector - women’s development, that we have become more aware of it?
To us it’s an important day. Women to Work aspires to have an individual as well as an organisational, and ultimately a societal, impact. So a day in celebration of the achievements women have made in all sectors of society is very close to our hearts.
More and more, not only on International Women’s Day, but throughout the year, we see this topic in the news, on social media and in organisations. There are more discussions, debates and research around issues relating to gender, gender equality, gender balance, women in leadership and supporting women in the workplace.
Discussions and debates, alongside globalisation and a focus on difference and diversity, have led to women in the workplace becoming a topical issue; a move to what we hope is growing support for embracing difference.
There is an increasing wave of initiatives to support women's professional progression and development like:
- The World Economic Forum seeking to maximise women’s participation in all activities
- Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In
- Emma Watson’s HeforShe Campaign
- organisations creating women’s networks
- businesses like Women to Work providing women’s development programmes.
With the gender gap in jobs and wages still regularly reported in the news, women still face barriers at work. These are due in part to unconscious bias or work life balance issues, which means there is more and more need for women’s development programmes and in-house research such as those offered by Women to Work.
The recent Women’s Development Programme we delivered for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue took a two stranded approach. Firstly it supported individual women within the organisation to manage their personal development and work life. Secondly it identified organisational and personal barriers and solutions to the barriers to women’s development. It is a fascinating programme that generated significant research about positive solutions to barriers faced by women.
Through this and our other development work with women, we have created our inspirational ‘I’ lead women’s development programmes. These are aimed at supporting women within organisations from recruitment to retirement, solidifying knowledge sharing, culture change and supporting women’s professional development as a norm. We aspiring to embed individual, cultural, organisational and societal development and change.
So we, and many others like us, working with women at a local, national and international level will be celebrating on 8 March the contributions that women make, the uniqueness and difference they bring, and the positive initiatives that are being developed for both this generation and future generations of women.