#BalanceForBetter: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women's Day featured

Women’s equality has made positive gains but the world is still unequal.

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing global attention on areas requiring further action.

Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8, with the first day being held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women’s groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceForBetter

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked women from all backgrounds, ethnicity and ages to tell us what exactly the day means to them:

Paola DianaInternational Women’s Day is the perfect time to come together, celebrate and observe the political, economic and cultural achievements of women all over the world. The 8th March will bring to the surface all of the characteristics and endeavours of females around the globe who fight every day to be successful year on year. International Women’s Day has been set aside as a clarion call to recognise amidst ourselves, the work we have ahead for building a world where sexes are defined not by their gender but recognised as binaries – two uniquely distinct but equal entities roaming the face of this earth, and in some cases shooting for the stars.

PAOLA DIANA | AUTHOR & FEMALE RIGHTS ACTIVIST

Carmen LiuAs a trans woman, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to identify with what it means to be a woman and our true selves.

CARMEN LIU | FOUNDER, GI COLLECTION & CARMEN LIU LINGERIE

Dr Georgina BarnettAs a Psychologist, International Women’s Day means to me the beauty of hearing women’s views and aspirations, in contrast to the women who were silenced by society in the past. We now have choices, voices and the freedom to pursue our dreams. My vision is for this to become a world-wide experience for all women.”

DR GEORGINA BARNETT | HEAD OF GLOBAL MEMBERSHIP, SEVENTY THIRTY INTERNATIONAL MATCHMAKING

Lara AspreyAny day that highlights the power of women, that shines a light on their strength and achievements, and encourages and inspires them to feel empowered is not just a celebration but an absolute necessity in my mind. International Women’s Day doesn’t just recognise how far we have all come but it reminds us to dream. For me personally, I know first-hand how important it is to have a vision and dream, but often how difficult it is to manifest, especially for so many women in the world who remain without a voice, fighting inequality and injustice every single day – which is why women coming together to support one another is so important. Women are amazing, and this very special day gives us much needed time to reflect on the work that still remains, reminding us all to look beyond our borders, and stand up against our fears – all through incredible solidarity.

LARA ASPREY | BROADCASTER, WRITER, MATCHMAKER & FOUNDER, ASPREY INTRODUCTIONS

Fleur RobinsonInternational Women’s Day inspired me to commit to the Club running an annual personal development day for 100 sixth form girls from local secondary schools. The aim of the day is for the girls to focus on themselves and go away feeling inspired for the future.

FLEUR ROBINSON, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, BURTON ALBION FOOTBALL CLUB

Jos Dirkx 1International Women’s Day is an opportunity for us all to take the gender conversation further strategically – it’s less about ‘celebrating’ than it should be about effective and sustainable change…building a safer space for all.

JOS DIRKX | MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR, AUTHOR & FOUNDER OF GIRLS & FOOTBALL SA

Christie DayFrom Marie Curie’s discovery of radioactivity and Rosalind Franklin’s work on DNA molecules to Hedy Lamarr, who pioneered the technology behind WiFi, and Ada Lovelace, arguably the grandmother of modern computing, some of the most important and game-changing developments in the world have come from female pioneers and visionaries. They, along with so many other incredible strong women, broke the mould for what was expected of our gender. International Women’s Day is an incredible opportunity to celebrate the past achievements of these groundbreaking women. However, in addition to it being a time of celebration and reflection, International Women’s Day reminds us to continue being passionate about what we do, empowering us to push the boundaries of what’s accepted as we continue developing and contributing to the world around us. For me, International Women’s Day celebrates how far we have come and cements the drive so many of us have to achieve gender parity and equality.”

CHRISTIE DAY | GROUP EVENT DIRECTOR FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS EXPO

Rashi KhuranaThere are three things today that are accelerating at a tremendous pace – globalization, technology and climate change. If we want to create a balanced world, women need to be an integral part of this acceleration. To progress, we need people who think differently and ask different questions to be contributing their thoughts and ideas. Women can influence culture, learn and contribute in diverse ways. We can tackle inequality if women become equal partners across all fields. Women also account for 50% of the consumers in this acceleration and having their input in building technology is crucial. One way this will happen is if more girls embrace STEM subjects. For example, I love my job at Shutterstock and the opportunity to work for a global technology company, innovating and building awesome products for a global market. I was lucky to have been brought up in an environment where my parents created excitement around science and maths. Getting kids excited at an early age and removing any gender biases early on is very important. International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate all the women who are playing a part in the exciting tech disruption that is taking place and a chance to inspire the next generation to get their voices heard!

RASHI KHURANA | DIRECTOR OF ENGINEERING, SHUTTERSTOCK

Jane WarrenFor me, International Women’s Day celebrates all of the incredible contributions women make to the world. Having worked in the investment management industry for over 20 years, I’ve witnessed a growing number of women taking control in this historically male-dominated space, setting their own rules and driving change. As an indicator of what the future holds, it’s hugely encouraging. Change is a process that happens over time, and is not always easy. But as a member of the senior leadership in the Investec organisation, I believe we must continue to empower and inspire the next generation of female leaders and keep the momentum of change moving forward.

JANE WARREN | CEO OF INVESTEC CLICK & INVEST

Kestra Walker_TickXEach year I look forward to International Women’s Day as if it were my birthday. The amount of love and positive female energy that floats around on that day makes it feel like I’m working at 110 per cent capacity, and being able to pass that feeling on and empower my fellow women through my actions and words is all the satisfaction anyone could ever need.

KESTRA WALKER | DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER, TICKX

Emma KaneI love hearing stories of extraordinary women shared around International Women’s Day. The celebration of women excelling in their field is inspirational but it’s those who thrive in difficult circumstances that always stand out to me.

The Microloan Foundation recently shared stories with me of some of the strongest women I’ve ever heard of. Women in sub-Saharan Africa who faced hunger, family tragedy and despair and set up their own businesses with a tiny loan to feed their family, pay for their education and support the community they live it in.

Living in a region where one in ten children will die before they are five, having this level of entrepreneurial spirit is astounding.

EMMA KANE | CEO, NEWGATE COMMS AND CHAIR OF THE BARBICAN CENTRE TRUST

Natasha Mudhar , CEO Sterling Group and Worrld We Want 1International Women’s Day is the perfect time to collaborate, celebrate and observe the political, economic and cultural achievements of women all over the world. International Women’s Day has been set aside as a clarion call to recognise amidst ourselves, the work we have ahead for building a world where sexes are defined not by their gender but recognised as binaries – two uniquely distinct but equal entities roaming the face of this earth, and in many cases shooting for the stars. As I always say, it’s about equal rights not special rights, and men equally need to play a meaningful role in empowering women.

“It’s about equal rights not special rights, and men equally need to play a meaningful role in empowering women.

NATASHA MUDHAR | CO-FOUNDER & GLOBAL CEO, WORRLD WE WANT

Jodie BrazierTo me, International Women’s Day is all about being fearless and speaking up. If you want to achieve something, just go for it – don’t be scared what people think. This especially relates to the PR world, where a big part of the job is coming up with new, creative ideas for clients to get their message across. Sometimes it can be scary to put your idea on the table, but it could just be the award winning concept that everyone loves – you’ll never know unless you speak up and get your ideas out there.

JODIE BRAZIER | COMMS CONSULTANT, TOPLINECOMMS

Kate AdamsInternational Women’s Day means a great deal to me as it allows us celebrate the incredible, relatively unsung achievements of women and acts as a reminder that we have more work to do, especially in STEM fields, to elevate female role models like Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin to the next generation of talented female innovators.

KATE ADAMS, NESTA’S CHALLENGE PRIZE CENTRE

Norma GillespieNever underestimate the power of a network – especially one full of women. As you progress further in your career and personal life, your ability and time to develop career-building relationships becomes more limited. International Women’s Day serves as a reminder that we are a part of a community and we need to work together to support each other.

NORMA GILLESPIE | GLOBAL ENTERPRISE ACCOUNTS, RESOURCE SOLUTIONS

Ellie PoolInternational Women’s Day isn’t just about celebrating the big, monumental and triumphant moments for women throughout the years but the smaller victories too. We recognise how far women have come in the world every day and Internation Women’s Day is actually a day where I think we should focus less on the iconic females of history and the present day we usually celebrate and turn to the women in our own lives and praise them instead. For me, I look up to women in the media, both past and present every day for inspiring me and motivating me but on International Women’s Day, it’s my mum, my grandma, my aunties and my best friends I’ll be celebrating and recognising.

After going through a break up in September 2018, being left for another woman, I started to doubt female loyalty but I used that to strengthen my own character and improve my own loyalties and feelings towards women supporting other women. I’ve changed the way I treat other women and improved how I respect other females. I now go out of my way to build up the women in my life but also to be as kind and encouraging to women I don’t know so well but meet along the way.

We should love the women all around us every day and take inspiration and encouragement from them but on Internation Women’s Day, it’s the perfect occasion to put the ladies in your life on a podium and show the world just how much they raise you up every other day of the year.

ELLIE POOL | CONTENT AND SOCIAL STRATEGIST, LIFE WITH ELLIE

Chloe NelkinHaving an all-female team means International Women’s Day always feels particularly special as it’s a day allows us to come together to celebrate CNC’s amazing growth and look at what it means to be a successful woman in business.

CHLOE NELKIN | FOUNDER, CHLOE NELKIN CONSULTING

Dessy OhaniansGrowing up in Bulgaria, where International Women’s Day is also Mother’s Day, I have come to view this day as a validation for me as a human being on a par with any man in our society. It has given me the confidence to believe in myself and that I can achieve anything I can set my mind to, despite prejudices against women’s abilities to succeed in any challenge they might undertake.

DESSY OHANIANS | MANAGING DIRECTOR, LONDON SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AND FINANCE EXECUTIVE EDUCATION & CEO, LONDON ACADEMY OF TRADING

Zoe MorrisFor me, it’s a bittersweet reminder that there’s still such a long way to go. Only 15 per cent of UK technology workers are female, but seeing the positivity on International Women’s Day fills me with the hope that this can and will improve.

ZOE MORRIS | PRESIDENT, WASHINGTON FRANK

Alison ShadrackInternational Women’s Day reminds me of when I started my working career at The European Commission in Brussels. As a young British woman, I was working alongside women and men from the other EU states and it was such an amazing experience and opportunity to learn new languages and cultures. The years I spent there had a huge influence on the woman I have become. It opened my eyes to the importance of diversity and having great women role models in the workplace – even more important to me now that I’m running my own business and leading my own team.

ALISON SHADRACK | CEO, ADIA PR

Catherine SmithFor me international women’s day is the opportunity to come together (men and women) to celebrate the great achievements that have taken place over the year that help and support women to live a happy and healthy life. To congratulate each other and to look forward to the next 12 months and the continued efforts of generosity and collaboration together.

CATHERINE SMITH | CEO, EQUAL TALENT

zoe duffyInternational Women’s Day is a day for recognising the work that women already do. It’s a day for acknowledging their achievements and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

ZOE DUFFY | ACCOUNT MANAGER, CLARTIAS SOLUTIONS

Jai PopatInternational Women’s Day is inspiring because it highlights women making history, driving progress, and changing things for the better. It lets young girls know that they really can do anything, which is so important in encouraging them to get into STEM fields like maths and engineering. Advertising related to these industries are more directed towards men, and there’s a huge disparity between the levels of men and women studying them in university.

We need more women in these kind of areas to help make positive changes, and I think it’s wonderful that International Women’s Day gives girls from all over the world the confidence to follow their dreams.

JAI POPAT | HEAD OF HR & RECRUITMENT MANAGER, VHR

Aimee TreasureI think International Women’s day is fantastic because is really shows young women that there’s so much out there that they can learn, that there are careers out there they may not have considered or even heard of. Our industry definitely needs more women, for example only four per cent of the airline pilots in the UK are women. However progress is being made, in recent years we’ve seen more women getting into the engineering industry which is only going to lead to a stronger, more capable workforce.

AIMEE TREASURE | MARKETING MANAGER, VHR

Kirsty Sutton 1I feel it’s important to remember and recognise that hard work and dedication should pay off in any field and for any gender. We as an industry need to be inclusive and open minded to all individuals to pool the resources we need to drive innovation and business forward. Any day that aid’s that philosophy can only be a good thing.

KIRSTY SUTTON | FINANCE DIRECTOR, CLARITAS SOLUTIONS

Elena Rodriguez-FalconIWD reminds me that we still have much to do to have a world where one’s gender and any other “differences” are celebrated and embraced instead of fractioning and boxing us in unhelpful ways. Today I still need, and want, to be on the side of those who want to put these issues right. Today, and for however long needed, I want to be part of the solution.

PROFESSOR ELENA RODRIGUEZ-FALCON | CEO, NMiTE

Nancy ThompsonInternational Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate and showcase women’s achievements. Women have come a long way in the STEM sector since I started my first business and I am delighted that progress has been made. Science is an area that should be as open to women as it is to men, and my career path, I hope, shows that it is possible as a woman to run a successful STEM business. However I do believe there is room for more progress, for example with more women in top positions in STEM related businesses and that is the next challenge to tackle.

My advice is for any woman looking for a good starting role in environment or ecology or any other STEM discipline is to look at the gender split within the company you are interested in and the numbers of women in senior positions. That may give you a clue as to your future success in the business.

NANCY THOMSON | CEO, THOMSON ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANTS

Sonia PashI grew up in Russia, where International Women’s Day is perhaps the next most important celebration after Christmas and New Year. On this day all the women, girls, mothers and grandmothers receive flowers, presents and well wishes. I took this tradition with me to London so on this day I remind all the women and girls in my life how great they are. Myself and the girls in the office get flowers and chocolates from our male colleagues and even from some suppliers who know that it is important to us. I am not celebrating for the sake of political meaning or for the sake of proving anything, but just because I like to promote this tradition of helping every woman feeling special and loved.

SONIA PASH | CO-FOUNDER, TEMZA DESIGN AND BUILD

Hira AliInternational Women’s Day holds a very special place in my heart. When I started working 13 years ago, one major project I initiated was formally recognising International Women’s Day through exclusive events for women. Most of our company initiatives – sports tournaments, in-house events and concerts – appealed more to men and were less inclusive for women. International Women’s Day programs soon became very popular and I continued to run them year after year even after I started my own companies. It was owing to IWD, I started to realise my passion for these types of programmes and women leadership trainings and coaching became a very important part of what I do today!

HIRA ALI | AUTHOR OF HER WAY TO THE TOP, EXECUTIVE CAREER COACH, LEADERSHIP TRAINER & KEYNOTE SPEAKER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ADVANCING YOUR POTENTIAL, FOUNDER OF THE CAREER EXCEL FOR TRAILBLAZING WOMEN

Cinzia RicciardoneComing from an Italian family who took part in women’s and workers’ rights demonstrations, and having been in many of those on my parents’ shoulders as a child, I can’t help being proud of how much we’ve achieved. The road ahead is still long; More women need to act as an example to younger generations and men need to support that. Many governments also need to align themselves to the changing times and social shifts to what is naturally right.

I actually walked my first steps at an International Women’s Day celebration. I now look forward to walking more steps – alongside the other women and men who aspire for the day where all girls will know that they can be and become whatever they want, without having to sacrifice their femininity.

CINZIA RICCIARDONE | VP PRODUCT, COGNISM

Dana Denis-SmithThis year International Women’s Day is particularly important for me and others in the legal profession. 2019 marks the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which paved the way for women to become lawyers for the first time. There is still much to be done to achieve equality for women working in the law so this International Women’s Day is time to reflect on what was achieved by the first female legal pioneers and look at the lessons that can be learned to ensure progress in the future.

DANA DENIS-SMITH, FOUNDER, THE FIRST 100 YEARS

vaishali pantInternational Women’s Day to me is like a pat on the back that we are trying our best to give the next generation a better workplace and a better world, where they would get what they truly deserve without asking for it! There is this particular quote I love, maybe because I am usually the only woman in an all male team: “Being a woman on a team of all men means that you have a unique voice, it’s important to embrace that”, by Erin Teague. And another quote by Marie Curie which I find very encouraging for all women, “We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.

VAISHALI PANT | TEST ANALYST, CLARTIAS SOLUTIONS

Amanda DavieFor me, IWD is a global acknowledgment of a unique set of societal, political, health and workplace challenges that women face, and also of the talents, voices and contribution levels that women bring to our lives and to our work.

And so the organisations, businesses and communities who celebrate it each year are publicly reaffirming that they empathise and want to help women towards a gender-equal future.

AMANDA DAVIE | EXECUTIVE COACH AND DIRECTOR, EQUAL TALENT

Kate TurnerMy vision is to inspire a generation to ignite and sustain the talents of both themselves and those around them, so they can make a positive contribution to the world. We can’t do that when we are distracted with the ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’ of our gender (whether male or female). So let’s embrace what and who we are right now. Let’s show up fully and get on with making the difference which our planet is crying out for.

KATE TURNER | DIRECTOR, MOTIVATIONAL LEADERSHIP

LauraThe intention is really positive, to promote women’s rights, abilities and contributions. These are all important issues but not a lot seems to happen on the day other than a few token gestures. For me having a positive attitude and confidence in yourself can help women achieve their potential.

LAURA | CLINICAL LEAD (HEAD OF PHARMACEUTICAL DEPARTMENT, ASSURED PHARMACY

Sam RoweWomen have always been strong, courageous and achieved great things. It’s just that now we’re getting the recognition! We have some great women in our company and International Women’s Day is a great moment to celebrate our pride in them and, in a way, the unremarkableness of their seniority

SAM ROWE | CEO, IGNITION AND BLUE FLINT GROUP

Jasmine Wheelhouse 1As a woman in business, I am incredibly passionate about empowering young women to embark on fulfilling and successful careers, regardless of gender stereotypes. I currently mentor at Leeds University and have volunteered at other alternative provisions to ensure young women are able to reach their full potential.

Sharing my entrepreneurial journey is so important to me and International Women’s Day is a fantastic platform in which to do this; it brings entrepreneurs and business professionals together to share knowledge and recognise how far women have come in the workplace. It’s also crucial for demonstrating the things we can do together, to ensure the progress in equality continues.

JASMINE WHEELHOUSE | FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR, NO. 18 LTD

Scarlett LongThis year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #balanceforbetter. Balance is an even distribution of strength, enabling something to remain upright and steady. This says it all for me, everyone is something, so we must all have balance to stand strong, upright and steady together.

SCARLETT LONG | HEAD OF CLIENT SERVICES, AD-LIB

Lisa TargettInternational Women’s Day is an annual celebration of the movement of women’s rights and equality.

Our generation has seen significant progress: the narrowing of the gender gap & an explosion of fierce female role models in all industries. I can only imagine what the next generation of women will be able to achieve as more women run for office, run the boardrooms and are enabled to do so by a mindful, generation of men.

I’m proud to be leading a team of women in the UK (80:20 ratio) and even in a female-lead environment, you still see women undersell themselves out of fear. For me, we need to get comfortable being bold: ask for what we want, back ourselves & own our achievements. Paradoxically, I’ve seen women charged with feminist rhetoric shoot their ambition ahead of their achievements – so ensuring progress is rooted in good work & facts is important if we are to keep driving this agenda forward.

LISA TARGETT | UK GENERAL MANAGER, TRIBE

jennie keenInternational Women’s Day made me feel so empowered and reminded me to celebrate all that women have achieved. Since working in the IT industry I have realised how far we come for equality. I salute all women in tech!

JENNIE KEEN, ACCOUNT MANAGER, CLARITAS SOLUTIONS

Rachel PenderedI used to think that International Women’s Day could be seen as a token gesture but I now believe it’s an important moment in time to stop and reflect, not only on how far we’ve come, but how far we have to go. My experience of running my own company has taught me that we should champion women every single day. We make up more than 50% of the population and we should ensure that in boardrooms and business across the country women are fairly represented. As a British, female entrepreneur I am particularly dismayed that women in the US are twice as likely to start their own company as women in the UK. In fact ,women make up just a third of entrepreneurs in the UK. I feel passionate about role modelling and promoting female entrepreneurship at every opportunity. I think that ‘entrepreneurship’ needs a re-brand to make it more attractive to women. I want to make sure that my ten year old daughter believes she can be her own boss if she chooses.

RACHEL PENDERED | MANAGING DIRECTOR, MEDIA ZOO

Sara Lou Ann JonesBeing a business woman and now having 2 daughters, International Women’s day for me represents being the best role model that I can be for my girls and teaching them that absolutely anything is possible in this life.

SARA LOU ANN JONES | FOUNDER, CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE

Shazia MustafaAs we see in another International Women’s Day, I want to take a moment to consider how we can shape the future. My dream is a world where men and women can share childcare responsibilities equally and both can excel at their careers without the guilt of missing out on family life. My vision is that the next generation of children will be able to access spaces like Third Door as the norm, rather than the exception by the time they have their own children. I’m committed to creating a movement to bring about a change in the culture of working families, where it is normal to work near your children and also focus on your own career.

SHAZIA MUSTAFA | CO-FOUNDER, THIRD DOOR

Katie Fraser-SmithInternational Women’s Day is exceptional in providing support for women in many industries, encouraging them to persevere in their chosen career, even if the industry has been traditionally male dominated. There are many initiatives which aim encourage women to get into STEM. International Women’s Day helps promote these initiatives and celebrates the amazing achievements of women in tech industry.

KATIE FRASER-SMITH | MARKETING MANAGER, CLARITAS SOLUTIONS

Jenni DonatoFor me, there is no better theme for this years International Women’s Day than Balance for Better. Balance is about getting joy from all of the elements of life and being able to thrive at work, play and family life in a way where we are nurturing our relationships, living intentionally and moving forward, towards our dreams and ultimate goals. IWD is the perfect time to celebrate the journeys and achievements of all women, but also specifically mothers, who can often struggle with the pressure to raise a family, keep a house and excel at a career, but who do all that is asked of them with a smile on their face and unconditional love in their heart for their family. I salute you!

JENNI DONATO | LIFE AND MINDSET COACH, CHANCE COACHING

Chloe McKnightAs a woman in a male-dominated profession, International Women’s Day reminds me how much I owe to the women who came before me and my responsibility to show the next generation that no job need be off limits.

When I started out funeral directors were almost exclusively male. The first time I carried a coffin into church I heard “He’s got long blonde hair!” followed by “Gracious! It’s a woman”. My grandmother was a radio technician despite being told it wasn’t a job for a woman and she gave me the confidence to do anything I wanted.

CHLOE MCKNIGHT | PRINCIPAL FUNERAL DIRECTOR, CPJ FIELD

CLARA VARAKACHANAPONG-JONESTo me, International Womens Day is a BIG deal. It highlights a plethora of subjects that were previous taboos. It is crazy knowing that this day has actually been around for over 100 years but with the help of digital technology, I’m so glad to see it thrive through mainstream media. I think it is also important to note that even though it is a day to celebrate women, it shouldn’t exclude men, it is just as important for them to be included which is why I am loving the IWD 2019 theme on ‘a gender-balanced world’, #BalanceforBetter.

CLARA VARAKACHANAPONG-JONES | HEAD OF DESIGN, ELVI

Dr Jill ArmstrongInternational Women’s day reminds me that sisterhood is a powerful thing. It’s great when women support each other because, even though I’ve seen lots of change for the better since I started work, the workplace still feels man-made.

DR JILL ARMSTRONG | BYE-FELLOW AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE’S MURRAY EDWARDS COLLEGE & LEAD RESEARCH OF THEIR COLLABORATING WITH MEN PROGRAMME

Kathleen MartinezThis year’s International Women’s Day theme, ‘Balance for better’, really resonates with me. You can be wonderful at the office, but that’s not your only role. There is also the balance of family, balance of friends, and balance of health, which are equally important. I think that’s harder to do as women, because sometimes we put ourselves last. That’s why it’s so important that we are talking about this through IWD.

KATHLEEN MARTINEZ | SENIOR DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIPS AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE BP GLOBAL FOUNDATION

Hannah DawsonThe challenge of inspiring girls into business and technology is very real (I know – I have two girls at secondary school!). Challenge, inspire when and where you can, and be relevant and visible. The change will come, but only if we do this as leaders.

HANNAH DAWSON | FOUNDER & CEO, FUTRLI

Sian GoodsonFor me, International Women’s Day is a fantastic opportunity to connect with other women, celebrate their achievements and be inspired. As an executive head hunter, I am responsible for placing candidates into senior positions and onto boards in the private sector and in public life. I’m proud to say that last year we achieved a 50/50 gender split for all of our appointments, which is sadly still highly unusual in the industry. Experience has taught me that the lack of visibility of women in senior roles can have a trickle-down effect – the less we see people like us in senior positions, the less we believe we can aspire to those roles. I believe that International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to showcase the many fantastic role models across all spheres of business and public life, and to remind us what women can – and do – achieve.

SIAN GOODSON | FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR, GOODSON THOMAS

Ann SwainAs a Director of Women in Recruitment, for me, International Women’s Day is a celebration of talent and expertise which has not necessarily fulfilled its full potential.

Our profession has been built on the tenacity, strength and expertise of a myriad of female recruitment professionals. However, our pipelines continue to leak this precious talent, often at a time when these women can add the most value. This day offers an opportunity to open our minds as to how we can mine for nuggets of brilliance.

In fact, at Women in Recruitment we dedicate a whole week to International Women’s Day because one day is not enough time for the breadth of celebration needed.

Last year’s activities focused on the power of female leadership and the need to ensure effective succession planning for women in business, whether this be for mothers or those planning time away. Strategies must be in place to sustain communication and management and flexibility are the key ingredients to guide and empower women to continue their roles.

ANN SWAIN | CHIEF EXECUTIVE, APSCO

Juliet EcclestonTo me, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on how far we have come towards achieving gender equality, by raising awareness of the achievements of extraordinary women and highlighting role models for others to follow. However, it’s also a time to consider how far we still have to go. Despite the constant reminders that equality has still not been accomplished, it does seem that businesses are taking note of the fact that when we are all treated equally, stronger results are yielded for everyone. This is something we must continue to work towards, and International Women’s day should remind us of the opportunity we all have, as the largest underrepresented group, to make a stand for balance and equality for all people.

JULIET ECCLESTON | CO-FOUNDER, ANYGOOD?

Alice BaratInternational Women’s Day offers a chance to view how far women have come in business, and importantly how much further there is still to go. By giving platforms to women in business, highlighting women’s strengths and achievements will further our goal to act as inspiration for the next generation of female business women.

Women are like sponges, they absorb more than you’d ever know – and a day like this is a chance to celebrate that!

ALICE BARAT | CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER, ELVI

Wilja WitcombeTo me this day is an important occasion to call out to all women with a feminist awareness in leadership positions, encouraging to change the stereotype roles men and women are still pictured in.

WILJA WITCOMBE | DIRECTOR CORPORATE RELATIONS, ALUMNI & CAREERS, GISMA BUSINESS SCHOOL

elisabeth grindel denbyInternational Women’s Day is a great reminder of women’s importance in the workplace. I am used to celebrating this achievement from very young age, and in Berlin this day holds particular strength and power to celebrate gender diversity and women rights.

DR ELISABETH GRINDEL-DENBY | DIRECTOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS & HEAD OF CAMPUS BERLIN, GISMA BUSINESS SCHOOL

Charlotte BunyanIt inspires me to push for change more forcibly, to champion and support as many women as I can and encourage more men to be part of the conversations around gender equality. Because every time I think about holding back a comment in a meeting; not challenging a stereotype or asking to be paid fairly for what I do, I think of my two young daughters and the world I want them to grow up in and the opportunities I want open to them. Just as so many incredible women (and men too) have paved the way so far; it is up to us all to keep pushing; keep tipping that balance and know that we are making a difference for the next generations.

CHARLOTTE BUNYAN | HEAD OF STRATEGY, COLLIDER

Anna DalzielFor me it’s a day to mark women’s voices being heard louder and clearer and to celebrate everyone sacrifices and achievements. Let’s keep moving forward, physically and mentally, to make the world a more colourful and entertaining place. Happy International Woman’s Day everyone.

ANNA DALZIEL | MARKETING DIRECTOR, UK & GLOBAL, MOMENTUM WORLDWIDE

Victoria DavisI believe in the power of many voices: the more voices that are heard, the more people will listen, and International Women’s Day is a perfect example of this. I work with an all-female C-suite team and 75 per cent female staff, so I’m proud to be part of a company that is giving women a voice and raising gender equality benchmarks within the advertising industry.

It’s been a fantastic year for female filmmaking talent, with the likes of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Killing Eve and Kim Gehrig’s ‘Viva La Vulva’ spot for Libresse. Working at a content platform, I feel like it’s our duty to get even more talented women to the top of the game. For me, initiatives like International Women’s Day provide a crucial, dedicated platform to ensure female voices really are heard; and to remind the world that our journey is far from complete.

VICTORIA DAVIS | SENIOR PRODUCER AT BRANDTECH PLATFORM, MOFILM

Dr Geeta VenkatWhile many of us would like to think that we are close to gender equality, you only have to watch the news or scroll through social media, to see that there is quite some way to go. The theme of #BalanceForBetter for International Women’s Day 2019 is really important and I hope that it will help to put professional and social equality in the global spotlight. Whether it is balance in the boardroom, at the dining table, in the classroom or in a medical setting, what the world needs now, is more balance for everyone so that we can live in a fairer, better society where there is a place for all of us to live, thrive and be happy.

DR GEETHA VENKAT | HARLEY STREET FERTILITY CLINIC

Majbritt RijsI think International Women’s Day is one of those things that is easy for people to underestimate or trivialise, but actually is plays a critical role in levelling the playing field and empowering and enfranchising women in the long run.

It’s important because women and girls need to see and understand female role models that resonate with them on a personal level, and they aren’t always going to have access to such women and their stories in their daily lives. A global event like International Women’s Day has the capacity to reach out to girls everywhere and connect them with those stories.

Seeing women that have achieved great things (big and small), against the odds and what society expects from them, tells girls and women not only that they can, but that they have the absolute right and licence to go after their own dreams and be who they want to be. We need to teach girls to listen to their ‘inside voice’, and a powerful way of doing that is to show them real live examples of women that did just that and what that produced.

We shouldn’t need permission to be who we want to be, but the truth is we still do – and there is no better permission and inspiration than seeing and learning about the amazing achievements of another woman. Learning about women who stood up for themselves and didn’t take no for an answer affirms to us all that this is acceptable behaviour. Over time, public discourses about this will normalise that behaviour, meaning that more and more women will feel entitled to pursue their dreams. We need to stamp out the implicit assumption that this is a luxury or something to be grateful for. Parity of income and fair access to opportunity aren’t benefits to be bestowed upon us, they are our right and the sooner every girl and woman in the world believes this and demands it, the better. Celebrating the successes and women who live these beliefs communicates just that.

What this also means is that it’s critical that we think long and hard about the women we celebrate on the Day – and ensuring that we are drawing from the most varied and deep pool, which showcased all kinds of women succeeding in all kinds of ways: women of colour, women of alternative beliefs, transgender women and women young and old doing great things in as vast and broad a range of categories and activities. We need to be as inclusive and extensive as we can so that every girl out there can find a mirror for herself and access a role model that resonates personally to her.

MAJBRITT RIJS | MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE NUMBERS LAB

Ruth KudziInternational Women’s Day is special because it represents to me, that women can achieve whatever we put our minds to. Growing up I didn’t have that many role models who were female business owners so now being one myself and doing things on this day, helps me to feel that I am giving something back and motivating and inspiring young children like my daughters.

RUTH KUDZI | BUSINESS COACH, MENTOR & AUTHOR

Rowena CurlewisThe importance of International Women’s Day is increasing year by year. Finally, it seems, we as a gender are making traction in the workforce, even if it is little by little! As many of my female colleagues know, the early career path of women can be fraught with bias – unconscious or not. With the growing confidence that experience brings, the ability to tackle this bias head-on, or simply ignore it and plough on regardless, is an important attribute to build. I believe the development of this attribute has helped enormously in my career to date. The joy of International Women’s Day is the encouragement for everyone to stop, reflect on the past and increase their determination to change the future.

ROWENA CURLEWIS | CEO, DEMONINATION

Elizabeth HawthornthwaiteInternational Women’s Day is about empowering women to think big, fulfil our dreams and go for every opportunity by working hard to life our lives the way we want to.

‘It’s also about remembering those women who have fought for our rights and continue to do so – and celebrating those women who have broken barriers for us to be where we are now.

ELIZABETH HAWTHORNWAITE | FOUNDER, ELIZABETH & WINE

Rebecca OatleyIt’s important to have a day like International Women’s Day to celebrate and remember the struggles that women have endured to be considered equal in our society and best in class in our companies, in our government, in our public institutions and in our homes. It’s a day when we can learn from their strength and recognise their achievements.Yet it’s even more important to recognise and put pressure on those countries and societies where women are still struggling against institutional bias. Remind yourself that on this day you too can make a positive change.

REBECCA OATLEY | MANAGING DIRECTOR, CHERISH PR

Natalie TriceIt is sad but true that in 2019, women’s education, health and career prospects are still globally worse than those of men. We do not have the same numbers in business or politics and the lion’s share of childcare still falls with women, but what we do have is a collective voice and the ability to make the changes we want to see. There is no doubt that we have come a long way and there are achievements to celebrate, but the journey isn’t over. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to come together to create a vision for the future, so that equality will be the norm, not an exception to the rule.

NATALIE TRICE, NATALIE TRICE COMMUNICATIONS

Melissa Vodegel-MatzenWhen I think of what International Women’s Day means to me, I think of a poster I saw in our local toy shop recently.

It pictured a brother and sister side by side. The girl was taller, and probably older, with her arms crossed. She had a proud, determined look on her face. Whereas the boy had a cheeky little smile and his hands on his hips.

It read: ‘Prepare your daughter for working life – give her less pocket money than your son.’

Underneath the image, it continued to state that after 30 years of equal pay law, women’s earnings were still substantially less than men’s.

I was fortunate to grow up with a brilliant big brother who saw me as an equal, even if I was younger. I have a stay-at-home husband who supports me in everything I want to achieve. I have the joy of dropping my kids (boys) off at school before I go to a job I love every day. Where I run the P&Ls and can ensure that the message in that poster is not a truth in my environment.

When I think of International Women’s Day I think about how lucky I am. Let’s celebrate those who lead change on International Women’s Day, the brothers, the husbands, the friends, the bosses, and the kids.

MELISSA VODEGEL-MATZEN | MD, TWELVE AGENCY

Nazma QurbanAspire to become your own role model. Think, is she strong? Does she own the room? Would your younger self look up to her and most importantly does your vision give you goosebumps? Create a vision of a role model you aspire to be and focus on becoming it.

NAZMA QURBAN | CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER, COGNISM

Kate Bradshaw-SoleWomen have come a long way in the last 100 years, but there’s so much more to be achieved. For me, International Women’s Day is all about celebrating progress, but also continuing to do all we can for a more gender-balanced world. I have been very lucky in my career at Sainsbury’s, where I’ve been given the opportunity to grow and develop, but sadly not all women have been as lucky.

KATE BRADSHAW-SOLE | STORE MANAGER FOR J SAINSBURY PLC AND A SANDWELL BUSINESS AMBASSADOR

cyndi mcleodAs someone working in education, for me this day is all about giving women the resources and the opportunities they need to feel truly empowered and inspired. With this kind of support they will be encouraged to bring their ideas to life.

CYNDI MCLEOD | GLOBAL UNIVERSITY SYSTEMS (GUS) CANADA CEO AND CO-FOUNDER OF GLOBAL WOMEN IN EDUCATION

Tess ElfordI love International Women’s Day; it’s a nice excuse to message the women in my life and tell them I appreciate them. I’ve never worked in an office where it’s been celebrated much, but this year I’m hoping to change that! Women are often great at supporting each other but in low moments, it can be difficult to remember how much we’re valued – this IWD, I’m going to make sure we all take a little time to remind ourselves how brilliant we are.

TESS ELFORD | ACCOUNT DIRECTOR, BMB

Christine HinsonI’m a huge advocate of International Women’s Day, as it provides us with an opportunity to remember the achievements and benefits of women in the work place. Women are still hugely under-represented in the computer and technology sectors; we may be in the minority, but this should be celebrated, not made a barrier. It’s much better to focus on what we have to contribute, rather than the fact we are women in a currently male-dominated environment.

CHRISTINE HINSON | DIRECTOR OF IT AND COMMUNICATIONS AT SIPS EDUCATION LIMITED AND A SANDWELL BUSINESS AMBASSADOR

Moira GilchristFor me, a big part of International Women’s Day is celebrating some of the wonderful people that I have the good fortune to work with. However, it’s also about raising awareness of how far many STEM businesses still have to go in terms of achieving the right gender balance.

Many men in the STEM world don’t see that women are sometimes less inclined to enter these fields, and they often find it more difficult to progress when in them. I believe that unless businesses take action, we are limiting access to a truly great pool of talent.

Here at PMI, we’re undergoing a business revolution. We are focusing our business strategy on better, smoke-free alternatives to replace cigarettes. That means that we need a diverse team that is open to doing things differently. As a result of that, we are placing inclusion and diversity right at the core of our business and today we are delighted to announce that we are the only international company to be globally certified by the EQUAL-SALARY Foundation; leading the way in equal pay. This is an important first step but we’re acutely aware of how far we have yet to go.

That’s what this day is about – the road that still lies ahead of us.

MOIRA GILCHRIST | SCIENTIFIC & PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS FOR PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL

Ramyani BasuFor me, International Women’s Day is a day filled with emotion. On the one hand it is a global show of appreciation as we celebrate the achievements of women worldwide, and an opportunity to reflect on those incremental steps towards a more gender-balanced business world – truly inspirational work undertaken by both women and men. However, on the other hand, it is bittersweet – for every step taken to improve gender diversity, I feel a tinge of alarm – why did it take so long? Why is it such a small step? And why do I suspect we will still be talking about this in 20 years’ time? My view is that we must keep up the pressure in society and business, and continue to push onwards and upwards. Progress is undeniable and unstoppable. Proud to be a woman and proud to stand for “Balance for Better”.

RAMYANI BASU | DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION PARTNER, A.T. KEARNEY

Rosie HartThere is no doubt women bring a different dynamic to the workplace. Our sensitivity, intuition & emotional intelligence help to create a more balanced environment, provoking more robust conversations & opinions. I like to think it’s important I apply my female ‘rosie-coloured glasses’ to everything I do.

ROSIE HART | SENIOR ACCOUNT DIRECTOR, BMB

Jade TomlinIn the creative industry, only 12 per cent of Creative Directors are female, so it’s good to be connected for at least a day. International Women’s day serves as an important reminder to ‘lean in’ and remember that we must keep paving a better path for the younger generation; after all, they hold the key to bridging the equality gap.

International Women’s Day for me is a chance for women to take a moment to celebrate each other; friends, family and colleagues. It’s an opportunity to recognise that whilst there is in-equality, we’re in this together!

JADE TOMLIN | CREATIVE DIRECTOR, TRIBAL WORLDWIDE LONDON

Federica BowmanInternational Women’s Day for me is a reminder to support the women around me to be the best they can be. We can often get caught up in striving to achieve our own goals, but this day serves as a nudge to think about other people, and how encouragement and mentorship can go a long way.

FEDERICA BOWMAN | MANAGING DIRECTOR, DIGITAL, FIRMDECISIONS

Sara PastorRecent initiatives focused on women’s advancement have united women more than ever. We are stronger when we are together and work towards a more equal and diverse community. Step by step, we are growing awareness of the value of diversity. At Adara, I’m proud that we’ve already achieved pay parity. And we are continuing to strive towards gender balance in leadership and technical positions.

And this is what the International Women’s Day is all about: allowing us to keep this conversation going. There is an unconscious bias that leads to lost opportunities for women and society as a whole. A way to overcome this bias is by having female role models, and by offering a platform to hear voices from both men and women.

Speaking in public is a well-known challenge, one I have faced myself. But getting out of our comfort zone is what makes us grow and thrive. This is why this year I set a goal to be more visible, more heard. Already, I have been a speaker at five conferences, and twice at universities. I am speaking up and speaking often to family, friends, colleagues, students, and professionals, whilst also helping other women to get speaker opportunities. By increasing the visibility of other women, I’m ensuring the increase of female role models.

Any step counts.

Ask yourself: What are you going to do?

SARA PASTOR, MD DESTINATIONS EMEA, ADARA

Philippa EastInternational Women’s Day gives me cause to reflect on how much things have improved in recent years, and appreciate the women that made this possible, but also to how much work we still have left to do. I always feel grateful of the fact that unlike previous generations of women, I have been supported and encouraged to carve my own path in the world, working in the historically male-dominated finance and technology industries, where I have generally been an equally valued employee. That being said, we’re still yet to achieve complete equality and women across the world are still victims of all sorts of discrimination. I am proud of the women (and men) who have fought for equality to date, but we still have a lot of work to do if we are to resolve these issues, rather than simply gesturing towards them.

PHILIPPA EAST | GO TO MARKET MANAGER, GOSPEL TECHNOLOGY

Sharon WeintraubInternational Women’s Day for me is inspiring as it is a time to focus on continuing to drive change and create greater gender balance in our world. The value of diversity of thought which comes from the different ways individuals – men and women – think about and approach challenges leads to the most optimal outcomes. It is this collaboration between men and women that is so important to help one another to succeed as well as deliver business value.

SHARON WEINTRAUB | CEO EASTERN HEMISPHERE, BP SUPPLY & TRADING

Jo Timmermann image 2This year’s International Women’s Day hashtag ‘#BalanceforBetter’ is a fitting metaphor for how working mothers everywhere live their lives. As a mum recently returning to work in the communications world after my second child, finding an employer who could provide the flexibility I needed in such a high tempo industry was key. We should celebrate women everywhere who manage to ‘balance’ the pressures of different roles. But also remember that balance is not just an issue for women, it’s a wider business issue. Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive, and we should encourage employers who offer different methods of working to support this.

JOANNA TIMMERMANN | DIRECTOR, BABEL

Kate GlazebrookInternational Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate women’s contribution to society and the economy, and to thank our allies pushing for gender equality. It’s one day a year where we stop to reflect on all that has been achieved in women’s empowerment but also to reignite the urgency for further change. Sadly there is still a distance to go to ensure women all over the world have access to the same opportunities as their male peers: in education, work, political life, and the home. IWD helps us to focus on that but not be demoralised by it. Action, not apathy is what a day like IWD is all about.

KATE GLAZEBROOK | FOUNDER & CEO, APPLIED


Laura DevineIt’s a century since British women were allowed to practice the law. There are now a majority of women holding practising certificates and half the pupils at the bar are now female. Women around the world are fulfilling their hopes and ambitions; changing organisations and influencing lives. There is so much to celebrate. And yet we cannot be complacent. The law has a critical role to play, not just in setting an example, but in influencing and advancing equality and pushing towards a genuinely equal society where, one fine day, the need for an International Women’s Day will be entirely redundant.

LAURA DEVINE | MANAGING PARTNER, LAURA DEVINE IMMIGRATION LAW

Penny Powers 1It is a celebration of how far we have come as women and it’s great to see women supporting women. I see myself as a bridge between my mother who was a housewife and my daughter who is a strong business owner. I feel my role was to show the path that is possible. My generation have been the torchbearers and we have pushed the boundaries even further. Many of us have unrequited success as we were born into the era of the first female Prime Minister and were told we were equal, but the reality was we were not. However, since then we have achieved so much and I am proud of the world I have helped to create for my daughter’s generation.

PENNY POWER OBE | ENTREPRENEUR, AUTHOR, BUSINESSWOMAN AND SPEAKER

Elaine BruceThe achievements of women over the years have been incredible, although there is still some work to do, and it’s important we take a moment to recognise this on International Women’s Day. We need to work towards a more gender-balanced world and help inspire for the next generation, and as a mother of three, this is close to my heart.

ELAINE BRUCE | FINANCE MANAGER AT H&R CHEMPHARM (UK) LTD. AND A SANDWELL BUSINESS AMBASSADOR

Zoe CunninghamThe technology industry is finding attracting women to the profession a challenge despite the huge benefits it provides. As a woman in tech I believe we need to build more awareness about the great career opportunities available and women leading progression in this field. International Women’s Day is the perfect time to do just that, and to hopefully inspire more women to consider STEM careers.

ZOE CUNNINGHAM | MANAGING DIRECTOR, SOFTWIRE

GEORGIE EVANSInternational Women’s Day is a day to celebrate every day for women, and how far we have come in striving for equality and respect in all aspects of our lives. Whether that’s in the workplace or personally, it’s a day to celebrate our strength and achievements.

Importantly, for me, it is also a day to celebrate the strong women around me that inspire me on a daily basis; whether that’s friends, family or celebrities, it’s a day to recognise our brilliance and our strength and power, both as individuals and collectives.

GEORGIE EVANS | BRAND & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, THE WEDDING PRESENT CO.

Jane HelliwellTo me International Womans Day is the power of all women coming together from all different countries and religions, building each other up and being equal. A day to celebrate the super power of all wonder women!

JANE HELLIWELL | CREATOR, CHAMPAGNE AND FLAMINGOS

Kathryn Nixon 1International Women’s Day means championing ourselves and supporting each other to demonstrate that women add more than enough value to society; allowing women to feel increasingly confident and empowered to stand up and speak up. We should, at all times, be treated fairly and equally because we are equal. More importantly, it’s about women pushing society forwards so that the gap between both genders is eventually non-existent and we talk about society as a collective.

I’m lucky to work for a company where merit is awarded where merit is due and as a result, women within the company have excelled. It’s incredibly empowering and refreshing and my wish would be for this to be replicated across society.

KATHRYN NIXON | SALES MANAGER, ENCORE DIGITAL MEDIA

Nicki FowlerInternational Women’s Day is pretty important to me as March 8th also happens to be my birthday. I often get comments like ‘of all the people to be born on that day…’ for me it’s a day to really celebrate. International Women day is all about the achievements of women and importantly the potential of women. I also think it’s a day to also remember the place of privilege I come from and be reinvigorated and embrace the work we have left to do.

In the last few years there has been an amount of recognition of the trailblazing women of STEM, many with stories misplaced in history behind the more prominent stories of men; Bell Burnell finally receiving recognition for her work; the stories of Hidden Figures; Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson; and Code breaker Elizebeth Smith are just a few prominent ones.

I can’t say I’ve always come from the right place in understanding my own privileged in being able to enter and thrive in the Technology industry a feisty 20 year old with more ambition than education. As I raise my daughter and the world becomes metaphorically smaller it is clear to me we need to shine a light on the work left to do; the basic education girls around the world are denied, the role models, mentors and representation missing across STEM and in Senior Leadership roles. International Women’s Day is our day to celebrate but it is also our call to arms.

NICKI FOWLER | FOUNDER, TECHNOLOGY IN PLAY

Dr Pamela BenitoHappy Women’s Day!

May all women be free to dream and smile 🙂 Your inner being will reflect in your face so let the beauty of what you love be what you do and always be true to yourself.

DR PAMELA BENITO | FACIAL AESTHETICS EXPERT

Sanjeev GillI’m passionate about how my network and Sandwell College can help with growth and skills for the region’s businesses, particularly showing young women the opportunities available to them in STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

International Women’s Day is a moment for us to reflect upon women’s achievements and highlight that anything is possible.

SANJEEV GILL | HEAD OF ENGAGEMENT, SANDWELL COLLEGE AND A SANDWELL BUSINESS AMBASSADOR

Marianne PageAs a woman in the world of entrepreneurs, it’s easy to accept that we’re a minority. We feel boosted when there are several women at conferences, networking events and presentations. However, when I present to successful Business Owners, I don’t see ‘men’ and ‘women,’ I see Entrepreneurs! I see wonderful, imaginative minds and driven individuals – we are all so lucky to have each other to support us through, but I would encourage all of us to look past the gender divide and hold the belief that we’re on a level playing field – that we are all as powerful as each other. When we truly believe this, the divide will diminish and we will go from strength to strength.

MARIANNE PAGE | CREATOR OF SYSTEMS4SCALE & AUTHOR OF SIMPLE LOGICAL REPEATABLE

Jade TrottInternational Women’s Day has always been about standing on the shoulder pads of giants. My mum was a trailblazer – she was one of the first women to be given a chief job in advertising, and had shoulder pads bigger than the car she drove. She was always breaking barriers, going first yet pushing from the back, putting everyone else on an equal footing. That’s what International Women’s Day means to me: if we’ve gotten anywhere, we’ve gotten there together, as a group. Standing on the shoulder pads of giants.

JADE TROTT | ART DIRECTOR, OLIVER

Vicky BullenInternational Woman’s Day is a real world symbol of the fact that my 18 year old daughter will start adulthood in a world that is more equal, more informed and more fair than the world I started in at 18. I am delighted for her. I had to learn to speak up and make sure my voice was heard, she has been raised to believe herself equal and to challenge at first sight of anything different. International Women’s Day champions and celebrates the equality which I hope and pray she will experience.

VICKY BULLEN | CEO, COLEY PORTER BELL

Andrea DunlopI wholeheartedly believe in the benefits of diversity in organisations at all levels. Women make up a large proportion of the workforce and it makes sense to have a fair representation of females at every level in an organisation. The benefit of diversity is that it brings different points of view, which helps with better and more balanced decision-making.

It’s great that we have a day that recognises women in the workplace, but the work shouldn’t stop there. We need to make sure we stand up for ourselves and every other woman in our organisation to ensure we have the same opportunities as men. It’s not easy and we need to take courage and lead with spirit.

As women we have to learn our own craft, know ourselves, and be all that we can be, and then in knowing we have our own courage, we can help others. If we are brave enough to do that, then together, we can lead an army of women on the same journey, helping them to develop themselves and take their own courage, in learning from inspiring leaders.

ANDREA DUNLOP | CEO, MERCHANT ACQUIRING, EUROPE, PAYSAFE GROUP

Claire GatesGender diversity continues to dominate both the business news agenda and the UK’s political agenda, particularly because of the #MeToo campaign, and it can only help to ensure there is a sufficient representation of talented women in the business world. It’s so positive that there is now a day that celebrates the successes of women across the world. I trained as a Chemical Engineer and when oil prices suffered a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to do some work in the oil and gas sector, which was fascinating. Oil and gas has such a fundamental impact on all our lives but it’s not a field which you hear much about at school and girls often aren’t encouraged to embark on a career in this space. Through initiatives like International Women’s Day, I hope this will change.

Since then I’ve worked in the financial sector for over 20 years where historically women have been under represented, but headway is being made. I would say that 2018 was a transformational year in terms of diversity and inclusion in the finance and payments industry, but also in business generally. It’s important though that women in the workplace remember to continue to put themselves forward as individuals, even if that means not conforming to the expectations of others. We need to stand out, be tenacious and go for what we want, especially as women.

With the rise of digital devices, balancing motherhood and family life with a career becomes trickier. Digitisation is everywhere and there are few jobs today where it is irrelevant. It’s so easy to become overly attached to your smartphone. As a working mum, I try to strike a balance and be true to myself. I work at full speed and am productive, but I am also there for my family and ensure I have regular, focused family time. Above all though, to be able to achieve the right balance you have to love what you do.

CLAIRE GATES | CEO, PAYSAFE PAY LATER

Ellie CohenI am empowered by the idea behind International Women’s Day and what it stands for. As a young business woman I am grateful for the work being done now and how this initiative will shape mine and other young females futures in business.

I’m proud to work for a company that not only encourages women in the workplace but see’s the value in having women in key roles within the business.

ELLIE COHEN | GROUP MARKETING MANAGER, ALAN DAY VW LONDON

Tara O'SullivanOn International Women’s Day we’re thinking about creating a better balance for a better world. We hear a lot about technology shaping a better world – and in many ways it is – but we need to be mindful of what this will look like. Take Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is poised to subsume thousands of jobs over the next few years. According to the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis (ISEA), this will affect twice as many women as it will men. As business leaders, we need to address this – what support can we offer women to move into new roles?

TARA O’SULLIVAN | CMO AT SKILLSOFT

Michelle StonebankMy advice to anyone interested in a career in technology is to maintain a learning mindset. The IT industry is always evolving and change is rapid. Consequently the knowledge and skills you already have will always need to evolve and grow to keep pace with that change. Be open, be curious and continue to learn.

MICHELLE STONEBANK | DIRECTOR OF CHANNEL SALES AND ALLIANCES, COMMVAULT

Krishna SubramanianStriving for a balanced workforce not only fosters gender equality, but it makes good business sense. Half our population is female, more than half of college students are female, so why should we not hire more of these talented individuals into the workplace? Not hiring women makes a business less competitive, because they are not tapping into a vital segment of the talent stream.

KRISHNA SUBRAMANIAN | FOUNDER, PRESIDENT & COO, KOMPRISE

Lucie SadlerOn International Women’s Day Hyve is not only championing equality in our own workforce but also addressing the wider issue of the lack of diversity in the IT industry. Age-old stereotypes about the industry do not reflect the fast-paced, progressive nature of technology, and this needs to change.

LUCIE SADLER | CONTENT MANAGER, HYVE MANAGED HOSTING

Caroline SeymourWhile companies have become more sensitive to the gender gap in the industry over time, there is still so much more to be done to change the industry’s culture to close this gap and encourage more women into high tech careers. I believe that, fundamentally, this culture shift needs to start in school – we need to do more to mentor girls and encourage them to study STEM subjects.

CAROLINE SEYMOUR | VP OF PRODUCT MARKETING, ZERTO

Aliya Vigor-RobertsonEvents like International Women’s Day provide a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements and progress we’ve made towards gender diversity, but there’s still a lot more we can do. As a business owner, a mother and a woman, I’m passionate and vocal about supporting and developing the future female leaders of tomorrow – that is what drives me to challenge the status quo and pursue real change in this area. When I look around my office, I’m proud to be in the position to promote equal rights for all and to witness first-hand the inspirational work our team does every day.

ALIYA VIGOR-ROBERTSON | CO-FOUNDER, JOURNEYHR

Nicola CritchleyTo me, International Women’s Day is a day to take stock and reflect on the achievements we have made individually and collectively and to acknowledge the inspirational women who influence our lives. It is a day where we celebrate the contributions women make across the world and the benefits that gender balance brings to the workplace.

NICOLA CRITCHLEY | PARTNER, HORWICH FARRELLY

Anna PoyntonTo me, International Women’s Day is a day of celebration, recognising the achievements and tenacity of women. I believe that as a society we must strive for a better balance, with women having so much to offer to the global economy. IWD provides an opportunity to value the differences of women and it is my hope that this will help drive the changes needed to achieve true gender equality.

ANNA POYNTON | PARTNER, HORWICH FARRELLY

Rebecca HeyesTo me, International Women’s Day is summed up in the quote from Maya Angelou “All great achievements require time.”

IWD allows me to reflect on the struggles women have faced in order to allow for me to be in the position I am in today.

REBECCA HEYES | SOLICITOR, HORWICH FARRELLY

Katie WilliamsonInternational Women’s Day reminds me of how far women have advanced in securing women’s rights and fighting for equality but also reminds me how far there is to go to completely eradicate discrimination and inequality.

KATIE WILLIAMSON | COSTS LAWYER, HORWICH FARRELLY

Charlotte WhalleyWhen I think of International Women’s Day I am reminded of Beyonce’s lyrics “All the women who independent, throw your hands up at me.

CHARLOTTE WHALLEY | TRAINEE SOLICITOR, HORWICH FARRELLY
Alison Simpson
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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