Why International Women’s Day is more important than ever

Why International Women’s Day is more important than ever

On International Women’s Day 2019, a very good friend said to me “just listen, even more”, when I asked what additional things I could be doing to support the women who I employ. The advice was very literal. It’s not just about saying that you listen to women’s voices at a high level, but actually listening harder to women every day. Not interrupting. Not waiting to speak, but concentrating on hearing. This is how we learn.

I’m lucky to have had some strong, powerful and influential women present throughout my life. From the team I work alongside today to the clients, partners, managers, former colleagues, best friends, teachers, family members – and the best boss I ever had – women have always been beside me, helping me to develop, improve and learn.

Promoting equality at work for everyone regardless of their gender (or race, or sexuality) is honestly so blindingly obvious to me and essential to the growth and success of any business. But the longer I spend in the workforce, the more I realize that’s not always the case. This is why it’s important that we have International Women’s Day in the calendar to celebrate women and to shine a light on issues that affect women across the world – from health, education, poverty and oppression, to gender parity and fair pay at work. Friends often ask me if Gay Pride is still relevant and the answer is “yes of course” and the reason is exactly the same as why we need International Women’s Day. While there are individuals around the world who are treated unfairly, overlooked, under-paid, persecuted or killed because of their gender, sexuality or race, then these global movements and events are not just important but critical to make people listen, to think, to incite debate, to march, to write articles that just might help one person somewhere – a victim or a perpetrator – to change.

Please take responsibility for ensuring there is balance and parity for everyone in the place where you work. If it’s not there, or not working, then talk to your boss on Monday. Or talk to your colleagues. Start a movement. On Friday I learned about the ‘One Girl’ initiative to improve education for women. There are 130 Million school-age girls around the world who are not in education. You can pay for a girl to go to school or learn more about this incredible initiative here.

And the best boss I ever had? That will be my mum.

P.S. On International Women’s Day this year I joined some incredible people – colleagues and friends from the Entertainment Industry – to listen to a panel of women from film, tech, banking, advertising and media talking about their experiences and sharing their personal stories about the women’s movement. The event was organized by ‘Hollywood In Pixels’ and you can read more about them and the inspiring panelists here.

I’d also highlight recommend this podcast from The Economist featuring Meghan Markle, Annie Lennox, Adwoa Aboah, Julia Gillard and other guests, first broadcast on IWD 2019.