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.

This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge – which looks to celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.

Organisers of International Women’s Day are calling for people to post their #IWD2021 message on social media with your hand raised, palm out and striking the #ChooseToChallenge pose to motivate others and to make International Women’s Day your day.

You can find the latest news, inspirational articles and events celebrating International Women’s Day below. If you have an event that you feel would benefit our members, you can promote this on WeAreTheCity.  Charity or not-for-profit events are free to publish, while all other events will incur an admin fee – please email info@wearethecity.com

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WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen are celebrating International Women’s Day by ellevating the voices of 100 incredible global women who #ChooseToChallenge.

Throughout March, we will be sharing the incredible words of these women and calling on our community to share their stories. We hope you will join us so we can amplify why we should all #ChooseToChallenge for gender equity.

Please share our videos, and contribute by adding your own video to your socials and tagging us in @watc_updates or @watc_wearetechwomen; Insta: Watc_HQ and by using the hashtag, #ChooseToChallenge100.

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What IWD means to us

  • As not just a woman, but an Indian woman, I have challenged stereotypes all my life. Everyone always seemed to have an opinion on what I should be, say or wear! Fast forward 30 years and one of the most positive changes has been the incredible power of women supporting women. The competitive attributes of profit-driven businesses seem to have balanced out with increased knowledge sharing, camaraderie and support. There’s definitely less judgement and more acceptance. I believe this will only get stronger still. IWD should continue to be a voice and to remind us all that there is work still to be done in the further pursuit of equality, for women in all professions and all walks of life.

    Gurvinder Khurana
    Gurvinder Khurana
    Director & Co-Founder of design consultancy align
  • For me, International Women’s Day is a day of celebration to reflect on and honour women’s achievements. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge the recent improvements and to look at what the focus is going forwards.

    Liz Sebag‑Montefiore​
    Co-founder and Director of 10Eighty
  • I’m so fortunate that every day I get to celebrate the incredible successes of women who are breaking barriers at work and being incredible parents. International Womens Day is an opportunity to amplify our voices, values and stories. I see it as the catalyst to keep shining light on women and what they contribute to the world for the rest of the year and beyond

    Tobi Asare
    Tobi Asare
    Founder, My Bump Pay
  • I choose to challenge the Essex girl stereotype. Would you believe the term ‘Essex Girl’ has only just been dropped from the Oxford Dictionary! The phrase has so many negative connotations and it has made so many women across the county embarrassed to say they’re from Essex; it’s silly! The women of Essex are a great bunch of intelligent, down-to-earth and hardworking people. It’s time we showed the world what we stand for!

    Hilary Collins
    Hilary Collins
    MD, Big Wave PR
  • International Women’s Day is always very special to me. It reminds me of how far we have come, but also how much work is still left to do, and the many ways in which women are coming together to drive positive change. Seeing women around the world celebrate in unity gives me the hope that anything is possible when women support each other.

    Anna-Sophie Hartvigsen
    Anna-Sophie Hartvigsen
    Co-founder of Female Invest (www.femaleinvest.com)
  • International Women’s Day represents achievement and attainment. The day inspires me to smash through glass ceilings and be a role model, giving hope to future generations. Men often ask why there isn’t ‘International Men’s Day’. It is because we are celebrating the success of women and the barriers we have broken. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to encourage and engage with young women across the world. We can show these women that the path has been paved by some incredible pioneers and they can now play a role in advancing equality. I look forward to a day when we no longer need international women’s day because it means women are celebrated every day and our equality is accepted for all.

    We have a long way to go before we achieve true equality both in work roles and pay but women are now making huge steps in taking on traditionally male roles. Throughout my political activity, I have been referred to as a both ‘Mayor’ and ‘Chairman’ which shocks many women around me. As Mayor, I had to face that it was a traditionally male role. I decided that being referred to as ‘Mayoress’ undermined my position within the council, so I claimed the title of Mayor, showing that I am no less capable than my male predecessors.

    A lot of my inspiration comes from Mother Teresa. She taught me to help those nearest me in the community. Influential women in my life include my aunt, my mother and my grandmother, who shaped who I am today. Seeing incredible women become political leaders, such as Jacinda Arden and Kamala Harris, has given me hope for achievement and shown me what I can aspire to do and be. I hope that one day I can inspire young women and girls to speak out and have a role in their community.

    International women’s day for me is not just about being a woman, but about celebrating my intersectionality. I am proud that as an Indian woman I have broken the mould and played a significant role in my community. In a society established by and for white men, we have a special day to celebrate all the inspirational women around us and that we look up to on the national and international stage.

    Mimi Harker OBE
    Presenter, Speaker, Trainer & Campaigner
  • IWD for me is a brilliant reminder that together we’re stronger and when we unite as a group and with our allies, we really can make big change happen. It’s a reminder in our workplaces that we should always support and lift up other women we work with. That we don’t have to conform to old systems and ways of working & should champion new & more flexible ones that work better for everyone, but particularly for women who want to structure their home & working lives more progressively. And it’s also a reminder that in some countries we have come so far with gender equality and in others we are still so far behind and need to continually work hard as a group to ensure equality for all. It’s our time and together we can make it all happen.

    Jackie Stevenson
    Jackie Stevenson
    Women in Advertising & Communications (WACL) President and Founding Partner & CEO, The Brooklyn Brothers
  • For me, this year’s International Women’s Day will give us a moment to recognise that the challenges of the last 12 months have led to opportunities for some working mums to strike a better work/life balance. Of course remote working isn’t always easy but I am lucky enough to work for an employer who has allowed me to set strict boundaries with my time during the pandemic. I have still been able to collaborate with my teams and get the job done, but also spend some real quality time with my two sons. Being there for them in key moments of their day such as lunch or them coming back from school has been crucial for me in finding the right work life balance.
    Historically, this has not always been possible in the frenetic world of B2B technology marketing and I’ve made many tough choices along the way. Yes, the lockdowns have not been without their challenges for parents, but I fundamentally believe they have also allowed me and many other women to enjoy the best of both worlds and have increased my overall happiness at work.

    Our own data gathered with Harvard Business Review found that 53 per cent believe that the quality of products or services a company can offer are better when employees are happier. This International Women’s Day, we must remember that happier working mums can drive real business results at this time. The proof is in the pudding.

    Angelica Reyes Froment
    Angelica Reyes Froment
    Head of Marketing for Europe and the UK, Freshworks
  • For many years I’ve worked with incredibly successful women all over the world, yet even at the very top, you see gender bias and inequality to varying degrees across cultures. I’ve loved being in a position to challenge behaviour in cultures where it’s more prevalent and hopefully empower friends and colleagues to take a stand. International Women’s Day is important to bring women from all over the world together to raise their collective hand and challenge the status quo.

    Natalie Shaw Photo
    Natalie Shaw
    Brand Director at Ingenuity
  • International Women’s day is always a reminder to reflect and take stock of how far I’ve come. I’ve had many different careers in vastly different industries; commercial designer in a jewellery factory, selling lorries and being the only women in the team in my 20’s, small business support in HR, a brief spell in equine nutrition and I’ve finally settled on entrepreneurship as my favourite role. Being creative and in business is often seen as a difficult balance but over the years I’ve found that the main thing that held me back (and spurred me on) was my confidence.

    Steph Briggs, Interior Designer.
    Steph Briggs
    Co-Founder, La Di Da Interiors
  • So often I get contacted by women who praise my journey – I’m so grateful to you for elevating me and giving me the confidence to continue. But I also want to say that to every woman who thinks they can’t do the same, I’m here to tell you that you can.

    Like everything in life, business and motherhood can be hard. I’ve been running Baba+Boo for 10 years and I’m still learning lessons every day. Just like in motherhood, we all make mistakes which we learn from, this is what helps us to grow.

    Whilst we thank International Women’s Day for bringing these conversations to the forefront and for reminding people to take the time to celebrate amazing women all over the world… we should be celebrating female achievements every day

    Eve Bell
    Founder, Baba+Boo
  • I think it’s a celebration of women but probably more importantly can be used as an opportunity to raise up women who aren’t celebrated enough

    Steph Douglas
    Steph Douglas
    Founder, Don't Buy Her Flowers
  • I work in Occupational Safety & Health (OSH) which is a predominantly male profession. As the health agenda and a spot light has turned to us over recent times the challenges and opportunities being faced by women have definitely been exaggerated. I have helped bring together a coalition of existing women’s networks in OSH from around the world to talk about their experiences, to highlight their success, and create new connections for opportunity. Together we will give women the confidence to #ChooseToChallenge so they can reach their ambitions and go beyond

    Louise Hosking
    Louise Hosking
    Founder and Director, Hosking Associates
  • This International Women’s day’s theme is choose to challenge and should act as a call to action for the wealth industry to ensure that the women we look after are both seen and understood by us.

    Annabel Bosman
    Managing Director, Head of Relationship Management, RBC Wealth Management and WealthiHer Partner
  • When working in professional services, I was involved in addressing gender equality and was incredibly proud to be a part of that movement. The key thing I have learnt is that for women to be successful and challenge gender stereotypes, we need to stay true to our own individual values, rather than trying to behave in a way that fits the mould of what is traditionally expected from senior professionals

    Katy McMinn
    Katy McMinn
    Co-founder and Director of HRi
  • This International Women’s Day, it is important to pause, reflect and above all be kind to yourself. This pandemic has challenged everyone in different ways and it’s important to be open and share our experiences. By doing so, we will come out much stronger. After all, we grow through what we go through.

    Naomi Dickinson
    Divisional Director, Brewin Dolphin and WealthiHer Partner
  • International Women’s Day holds a special place in my heart. I stand on the shoulders of brave and visionary women who paved the way for generations to come. Therefore, this year’s theme is a powerful reminder that the world can be changed if we #choosetochallenge.

    Camilla Falkenberg
    Camilla Falkenberg
    Co-founder, Female Invest (www.femaleinvest.com)
  • To me, International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women who are changing the odds, changing the game, changing the rules and changing the future, it is a day to celebrate women who are challenging the stereotypes and challenging the norms.

    As an advocate for gender equality, my work has always been focused on challenging gender bias, from questioning the status quo to working towards upsetting that status quo, through educating, empowering, inspiring and motivating women and girls to access decision-making and leadership roles in all walks of life and help achieve a 50-50 planet.

    Justina Mutale
    Justina Mutale
    Author, The Art of Iconic Leadership: Power Secrets of Female World Leaders
  • As someone who entered the workplace as a teenage parent, it has been my privilege as a senior HR professional to spot and call out unconscious bias and challenge gender stereotypes. My advice is be clear on what you personally and professionally stand for and ensure every action reconfirms this. Make it your mission to challenge anything that needs your intervention.

    Ruth Cornish
    Co-founder and Director of HRi
  • In the last year we’ve seen a shift from incremental improvements in equality to really challenging societal norms and demanding anti-inequality. International Women’s Day has been pivotal in highlighting for true change to happen, everyone has a part to play and feminism is not just a female cause.

    Harpreet Bushell, Group Chief Growth Officer, LAB Group
    Harpreet Bushell
    Group Chief Growth Officer, LAB Group
  • Many women are feeling less financially secure right now, which impacts both self-esteem and mental health. This is why financial education has never been more important, and why I continue to champion this to empower women on International Women’s Day and beyond.

    Tracy Sian Browne
    Tracy Sian Browne
    Director, Investment Manager and WealthiHer Network & Partner Tilney Smith & Williamson
  • International Women’s Day is a celebration of how far we’ve come, and an opportunity to be thankful for the brave, trailblazing women who went before us and inspire us to push for more. But it is also a sobering reminder that we still aren’t there yet, and that the progress shouldn’t be taken for granted or squandered. I was recently horrified to overhear an ‘educated, professional’ man in his 40s claim that the “feminist movement was becoming dangerous for men”… and that it was being taken “…a bit too far”. This was a supposedly modern man working in recruitment and responsible for the careers of countless women – an appalling prospect. Whenever I hear someone chastise my daughter for ‘being bossy’ or learn of a woman being professionally punished for having children, I know the importance of International Women’s Day isn’t waning.

    Susannah Morgan
    Susannah Morgan
    Deputy Managing Director at Energy PR
  • International Women’s Day is a time to reflect. As someone who challenges gender stereotypes in the financial industry on a daily basis, this year’s theme is especially powerful to me. Choosing to challenge takes courage, strength and most importantly a supporting community. Every year, International Women’s Day reminds me that I am not alone and that anything is possible when men and women come together, demanding equal rights for all.

    Emma Bitz
    Emma Bitz
    Co-founder, Female Invest (www.femaleinvest.com)
  • For me, International Women’s Day signifies the recognition that women face taller walls to climb, and bigger boulders to roll uphill. This makes every achievement doubly important, impressive and worthy of celebration. I fully support this day in the yearly calendar that draws attention to women and all their successes, whether big or small.

    Supriya Nagarajan
    Supriya Nagarajan
    Founder & Artistic Director, Manasamitra
  • I love International Women’s Day and how it brings women from across the world together to celebrate how epic we really are!

    The day itself represents challenge, inspiration and achievement to me – on IWD in 2019 I was booked for a speaking event, and at the time I had a phobia of public speaking. It felt like a safe forum to challenge myself, step outside of my comfort zone and face my fears – which despite my nerves throughout, I did. For last year’s celebrations, I took part in a global video montage of women sharing powerful I am statements about ourselves to inspire other women to be kind and love themselves.

    I work with a team of the most incredibly talented women who are doing amazing things in the world, for instance one is setting up their own sustainable t-shirt company called Waves & Wild and donates 50% of profits to various global charities. Having a dedicated day to showcase these amazing works and have the opportunity to motivate and inspire other woman is wonderful.

    Amy Crumpton
    Amy Crumpton
    Business & Mindset Coach and Founder of Social Cactus
  • It is only because of the female role models in my family who taught me that success is not defined by money or status, but by becoming the person you have the potential to be, that I have reached the position that I’m in today. International Women’s Day is about raising each other up and working together to create a more equal future.

    Leonor Stjepic
    CEO of the Montessori Group
  • I think it’s often the mundane, everyday tasks that are stereotyped and assigned to genders, but I’ve been fortunate to challenge those from as early as I remember, helping my father change spark plugs, drain car brake fluid, replace exhaust pipes and look deep into ice cream van engines. Those early experiences have been beneficial in adulthood – being in a same sex relationship means the tasks typically assigned to men are up for grabs.

    Maccs Pescatore
    Maccs Pescatore
    COO of the Montessori Group and CEO of the Montessori Centre International
  • This International Women’s Day I challenge businesses to create a supportive and collaborative environment; to listen, be open and act with integrity. Ensuring their values infuse with their businesses.

    Nadia Kribi
    Nadia Kribi
    Director, Kleinwort Hambros and Wealthiher Partner
  • International Women’s Day is a bitter sweet moment for me. I celebrate where we’ve got to, and the great career that women like me have enjoyed as a result. I also delight in the feisty, fun, independent young women, like my daughter and her friends who are thriving in the workplace. But I’m also mindful about how far we still have to go; here in the UK few women are in senior roles, there’s still a gender pay-gap and it is still incredibly difficult for women to balance work and motherhood. While internationally we’ve seen misogynists win elections, women deprived of educations or used as pawns in wars and there are many places where women are not in charge of their own bodies, let alone their futures.

    Louise Findlay-Wilson
    Managing Director at Energy PR
  • International Women’s Day is not a moment, but a marker of intent for the year to come. At WealthiHer we know that women are feel less financially certain, stretched in all areas of their lives but hopeful of building a better tomorrow for everyone. I choose to challenge leaders to build back businesses and organisations with women’s needs and hopes in mind.

    Tamara Gillan
    Tamara Gillan
    Founder, Entrepreneur, equality champion and social change-agent, The WealthiHer Network
  • International Women’s Day for me is a celebration of womanhood and the women who rewrite history. It is a day to rejoice every woman, no matter her political view, socio-economic background, race, sexuality or religious belief. It serves as a necessary reckoning that we have, as a society, collectively been devaluing femininity and now is the time to start embracing that and truly understand that our power is limitless.

    Scarlett V Clark
    Scarlett V Clark
    CEO and Founder of Smart Girl Tribe and author of The Smart Girls Handbook
  • To me International Women’s Day is a great way of formally recognising the brilliant women doing brilliant things.

    It makes me think about and appreciate the strong women in my family, who have inspired me both professionally and personally. My mother, an Asian woman, got a scholarship to the USA from Nairobi to do her Master’s degree. Not many women in the Asian community were educated in her generation, so this was quite unheard of at the time. My paternal grandmother moved from the UK to India and lived there for 40 years. She adapted to the Indian culture and survived the partition of India.

    Both of these women taught me to follow my dreams and aspirations, and to never let anyone tell me I can’t achieve something because of my gender or race. However, I have still unfortunately experienced discrimination during my career.

    I was challenged by a female boss who said I could never be an event manager and a mother, but how wrong she was. I went on to travel the world being a mother! Luckily, I have had a supportive husband and family who have helped with childcare and enabled me to be a great businesswoman and role model to my daughter. Now she is older I encourage her to fly her wings and follow her dreams, too.

    Meena Chander
    Meena Chander
    Founder of Events Together
  • For me, this day should be a day when we recognise that girls, women and people with periods around the world suffer from murder, violence, rape, abuse, mutilation, child marriages, exploitation and trafficking. It is also a day for us to be resolute and deliberate with our own action to make the world safer for each one of us

    Lynae Brayboy
    Chief Medical Officer at female health app Clue
  • International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate what we have achieved so far in gender equality – but also a chance to take stock and evaluate what still needs to be done.

    The gender pay gap is just one example of the disparity that still exists. Yes, progress has been made and companies with a headcount of 250 or more must now declare what that difference is. But the bottom line is that on average, women still earn an average of 15.5% less than their male counterparts.

    As female business leaders, we have the responsibility to ensure that issues like this are tackled. So while International Women’s Day is a celebration of the amazing work that has been done so far, it’s also a reminder that the quest for true equality goes on.

    Emma Robinson
    Emma Robinson
    Founder and MD of Red Diamond Executive Headhunters
  • This International Women’s Day, in the wake of the pandemic, the imperative has never been greater for the financial services industry to reach out, educate and support women to help them re-build their confidence and get their long term retirement plans back on track.

    Claire Blackwell
    Claire Blackwell
    Director of Marketing at St. James’s Place and WealthiHer Network Partner
  • For me, this year’s theme of Choose to Challenge came to the forefront when I called out my local Chamber of Commerce after seeing an article about its all-male board. As a female business owner I felt that women should have a seat at the table. The MD of the Chamber subsequently reached out, inviting me to join.

    I decided after so publicly calling them out, it would be silly not to take up this opportunity and be a part of the change that I was calling for. That was three years ago and I know have the chance to shape strategic discussions and contribute to decisions that impact the local business community. I am pleased to say that I am also no longer the only woman on the board! This demonstrates the power that women can have; we shouldn’t fear challenging the norm and speaking up for change.

    Stefanie Hopkins
    Stefanie Hopkins
    Founder and Managing Director, Faith PR
  • International Women’s Day does hold a really special place in my heart, not only on the 8th March but all year round. Seeing year on year all these incredible women be celebrated has not only helped to drive me more but it’s also allowed me to discover so many female-led brands.

    Today I consciously seek female-led brands, whether it be beauty, clothing or something else, I’m always swayed to buy from a company that has a woman or a team of women behind it. As a woman in business myself I know first hand how hard it is to make your mark and just how hard it is to start a business let alone make it successful too ! I really admire women entrepreneurs and actively contribute to supporting them through personal and business purchases.

    We’re definitely heading in the right direction, but we know there is a long way to go. At Dr.PAWPAW we have a growing team of incredibly strong, hard-working women and everyday it makes me proud to lead them and continue to build our brand together.

    Pauline Paterson
    Pauline Paterson
    Co-Founder, Dr.PAWPAW
  • “There has never been a more important International Women’s Day. Covid-19 has posed a grave threat to gender equality as well as lives, with women often shouldering a higher burden of caring, childcare and schooling responsibilities in lockdown. But there has also never been a better time to challenge gender stereotypes and build a better future. Our recent whitepaper, Beyond Binary, which Sign Salad wrote in collaboration with the7Stars and Neuro-Insight, encourages brands to explore and challenge out-dated binary gender stereotyping. We have also helped brands from global drinks companies to fashion retailers and publishers explore the changing cultural constructs of ‘Femininity’, ‘Masculinity’ and self-expression. Gender is a flexible construct, which we can and must evolve to make the world fairer for everyone.”

    Laura Chamberlain
    Managing Director at Sign Salad
  • International Women’s Day marks the most important date in my calendar year because there is NOTHING more powerful than watching women come together for the same cause – which is to EMPOWER, CELEBRATE and CHAMPION the fight for gender equality. Having worked in a male dominated environment for many years, I’ve seen first-hand how gender bias plays out and it’s not pretty. Witnessing male colleagues receive preferential treatment because of their gender, is not the kind of world that we want our children and the next generation born into. I’m all for rewarding people BUT this should be as a result of their hard work and experience and NOT their gender!

    If we want to enforce real change, then speaking out and challenging the status quo is not optional – it’s mandatory. Remember, nothing changes if nothing changes which is why this year’s theme “Choose to Challenge” is so important.”

    Maggie Colette
    Maggie Colette
    Founder of Think Like A Boss
  • We all have so many conflicting priorities and demands, it’s good to remind ourselves that we are often our own harshest critics and there are times when we need to put ourselves first.

    Women often try to shoulder too many burdens and be all things to all people. This International Women’s Day, as we chart our paths through this pandemic, we need to challenge this and cut ourselves some slack. We all have so many conflicting priorities and demands, it’s good to remind ourselves that we are often our own harshest critics and there are times when we need to put ourselves first. Those of us in leadership positions need to ensure this message filters down to our female colleagues and the best way of doing that is by example and setting realistic expectations for both ourselves and others.

    Donne Burrows
    Donne Burrows
    COO, Engine B
  • Maybe it’s the frustration of lockdown, maybe it’s that as an 80’s kid, to me 2021 sounds futuristic. But sitting here today, seeing women still do not have the parity that was being fought for back when I was born, I feel enough is enough. I love IWD because it allows us to celebrate each other’s success but this year I hope we can dial up the speed on that advancement. Out of all the chaos that’s happening with the pandemic, let’s seize the opportunity to support each other and create lasting change.

    I challenge gender bias every time I walk into a boardroom, pitching DAME to ‘pale, male and stale’ investors. I hope I can open their eyes to the fact menstruation is not a “niche” subject, and it needs proper funding to ensure it progresses.

    Celia Pool
    Celia Pool
    Co-Founder of DAME
  • For me International Women’s Day symbolises equality. Equality for me is not just about reinforcing that women can do most things that men can and equally compensated. For me equality comes from highlighting what we think of as feminine qualities – nurturing, compassion, vulnerability. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if when describing our world leaders – we discussed how nurturing they are? How compassionate they are? For as long as masculine qualities are regarded as more valuable than feminine ones, we will not have true gender equality.

    One of my motives in starting Organic Apoteke was to challenge beauty and subsequent gender biases. The beauty industry historically created stereotypes of beauty, femininity, and womanhood by promoting images of perfection and completely camouflaged women. To me real beauty means being comfortable in the skin you are in. Our goal at Organic Apoteke is to make your skin, body and mind so healthy and resilient that you never have to fake or filter anything.

    Dr Nitasha Buldeo
    Dr Nitasha Buldeo
    Founder of Organic Apoteke and I-Yogga
  • Anything which helps to discover the inner strength and genius of women on everything they do – from motherhood to directing a country – is welcomed. The world needs to allow things to move in a female way. We do not need to imitate how men have made things so far… We are equal, but different.

    María Luisa De Castro
    María Luisa De Castro
    CEO and founder, CostaLuz Lawyers
  • I came out knowing its women who make the anything, happen; thanks to a strong-willed, single mom. Certainly not without a great deal of tenacity, hard-work and humanity. And most definitely wanting to be proud of our efforts. But I’m reminded that a new generation is watching, listening and must deeply believe there isn’t anything THEY can’t achieve, and achieve with grace. That’s what is innate in the souls of doers.

    Patti McConnell
    Co-founder and Managing Partner of Something Different
  • International Women’s Day is important to all women in business. It highlights the incredibly important role of women in the workplace from strategic idea generation and agility, to compassionate thinking and strong leadership.

    While there is still work to be done on a societal level, Ecotone UK (formerly Wessanen UK) is a progressive organisation, committed to creating a diverse and agile culture. We aim to have complete gender balance across our executive board and my role as UK CEO is a great example of this. I am proud to be the first female CEO in the Ecotone Group across Europe.

    International Women’s Day for me is a day to reflect on the women who inspire me in my role including my hard-working colleagues, the women making a difference to wildlife biodiversity – an area we are passionate about as a business – and women in my family. Also, as a woman in a senior role, it is an important day for me to inspire others and mentor aspirational women in our team.

    Continuing to raise awareness of inspirational women in business, alongside supporting your female colleagues in their careers is vital. International Women’s Day is helping to recognise the importance of balance, equality and the benefits that come from female leadership.

    Emma Vass
    Emma Vass
    UK CEO, Ecotone UK
  • This year’s theme of Choose to Challenge for International Womens Day is particularly relevant and I Choose to Challenge Diversity as it’s something very close to my heart. The timing is perfect to talk about Diversity, we only have to look to America to see how many people are already inspired by the appointment of Kamala Harris as the new vice-president of the United States.

    Diversity is a fundamental building block in both business and in life. I have always looked to build teams from people with different outlooks, backgrounds and interests to help foster new ideas and perspectives. It’s where creativity and innovation flourish, and it helps us understand different motivations, connections and interactions.

    So for me, and for this year’s International Womens Day, I’m celebrating Diversity in every way to succeed and flourish in these very challenging times.

    Karen Dickens
    Dr Karen J Dickens
    CEO, Comitti Boats UK
  • When I worked as a Director of an AIM Listed company at a young age, I encountered many different stereotypes within my workplace – predominately the white middle class, male team. However, I have personally found that 15 years later in life, it’s very different and feel there’s more diversity in the workplace. There’s still a long way to go in many countries, but personally I’m proud that I work in a global company that’s predominately women led, at all levels. Working within Direct Sales, we’re also creating opportunities for women to be able to earn money, determine their own financial destiny, and also run their own companies – and that’s a wonderful feeling to be a part of.

    Ros Simmons
    Ros Simmons
    Managing Director of MONAT UK & Europe
  • When it comes to Choosing what to Challenge, with my flourishing introvert hat on, I challenge the myths and misconceptions that introverted women are stuck-up, boring loners who don’t enjoy life. Being quiet brings us a deep sense of joy as we recharge our mental batteries, made all the more satisfying by knowing that we don’t need anyone else to feel at peace. What better day to spend time in contemplation than International Women’s Day

    Joanna Rawbone
    Joanna Rawbone
    Founder of Flourishing Introverts
  • As an advocate for gender balanced leadership, it is heartening to see glass ceilings being shattered globally and women choosing to challenge the status quo. I am particularly delighted at the UN’s theme for this year, as inclusive leadership delivers the best outcomes for organisations and for society.

    Dr Anino Emuwa
    Dr Anino Emuwa
    International Management Consultant and Founder of Avandis Consulting
  • International Women’s Day is a day to be reminded that there is much work still to be done. Women around the world still have laws that control their freedoms and control over their bodies. Until that changes, we can’t be complacent.

    Leanne Tritton
    Leanne Tritton
    Founder of ING Media
  • The freedom to be our true self no matter where we are – at home, at work, or on the world’s stage – is something we not only must challenge society’s norms to achieve, but a freedom we must give ourselves and make room to our sisters share, no matter how different our individual expressions may be.

    Julianna Lovett
    Author of The Message
  • For me, IWD is about celebrating the women who are not doing things the way they have always been done (by men in suits!), who are not simply trying to ‘win’ by being the toughest, strongest, cleverest, but by being themselves first and foremost, playing to their strengths. This is what I call ‘Long Win’ leadership, defining success on your own terms. Moving away from cutting corners for short-term gains, and acting on ego, it’s about plotting your own path, clarifying what matters for you, being your full true self in all the teams and communities you belong to, and constantly learning through all the opportunities and challenges that you face.

    Dr Cath Bishop
    Dr Cath Bishop
    Author and Business Coach, www.cathbishop.com
  • International Women’s Day for me is about equality. As we approach this year’s International Women’s Day, here in the U.S. we are able to point to a genuine breakthrough moment with the appointment of our first female Vice President. This is a great achievement and one to which my response is: “Only one more step to go!” I believe that with every passing day we are moving closer to true parity, to a time when everyone has the same opportunity to learn, to succeed, to fail, and to get back up again and keep trying.

    Pat Hume
    Pat Hume
    CEO of Canvas GFX
  • International Women’s Day is an opportunity to pause and promote gender parity across all aspects of life and culture – not just in the business context. However, the fact that women all around the world witness, or experience first-hand, gender bias creeping into the workplace on a daily basis, speaks to the progress that still needs to be made. Whether it is intentional or unconscious gender bias, it’s important for this behaviour to be called out so that change can happen. We all have a part to play in creating an environment where challenging and questioning ‘norms’ is viewed as a pathway to progress and an entry point for constructive dialogue. As a mother, I am constantly aware that the steps we take today to bridge these gaps are paving the way – and further empowering – the generation of tomorrow.

    Shallu Behar-Sheehan
    Shallu Behar-Sheehan
    Chief Marketing Officer at Truata
  • As a female CEO, the importance of uplifting women, making sure women are visible and that we’re continuing to drive awareness and equality, is on my mind every day. But I know it’s not on everyone’s mind every day. That’s why International Women’s Day is so important. It’s a day to remind everyone of how far we’ve come, but also the need to do more. It’s a day to regroup, build the community and challenge ourselves. This year at Wunderman Thompson we’re focussed on building a connected female community and bringing more men into the conversation to drive progress. Ensuring women thrive in our industry and we can get more women into those all-important leadership positions. In a distanced world we need to find ways to get closer to drive all important impact.

    Pip Hulbert
    Pip Hulbert
    UK CEO of Wunderman Thompson
  • For my first career (my pre-children one), I worked in Insurance. With few visible role models, I was constantly surrounded by men, mostly over 40 who all had wives at home to manage their families. I worked my way up to become a Director – the only female Director – and put my all into inspiring talented women at all levels of our business. I’m really proud to see that since I left, so many of them have continued to fight the stereotype and are now in senior positions themselves. For that reason, this year’s theme is incredibly close to my heart. It’s so tough being the minority, seeing things differently and speaking out, it takes courage, bravery and a tonne of resilience. But it’s also why I do the things I do now, so hopefully our daughters, nieces and friends don’t need to fight so hard.

    Jessica Heagren
    Jessica Heagren
    CEO and Cofounder, That Works For Me
  • In the early days of my writing career, my challenge was acceptance when I lost out to jobs because they were worried about a woman integrating into an ‘all-male team’. A few years ago, writing for a largely male audience, my challenge was believing in my abilities after sexist and abusive comments were hurled at me from the fingers of keyboard warriors. Today, my challenge is understanding my self-worth and breaking down the tired and outdated ideas that women are ‘bossy’, ’emotional’ and ‘bitchy’ when they stop following and start leading. Ideally there’ll be a day when IWD is no longer needed, but until then I have endless admiration for all of the intelligent, ferocious women keeping up the momentum. High five, ladies.

    Emily Sowden
    Emily Sowden
    Copywriter, Armadillo
  • I returned to work part time after having my first son. At the time I was working at a big, networked advertising agency that never did part time. But I had a good relationship with my boss, and was well liked. So they made an exception and allowed me back 3 days a week. After a year, I had won and bedded in a very large retail client who were spending lots and happy with my work and had huge growth potential. So when my review came round I asked to be promoted (to the job I was essentially doing) and for a pay rise. My boss said no. Because I was part time. And so not putting in all the late nights my (male) counterparts were.

    I told him that the reason I didn’t do the late nights was because I worked twice as hard as my male counterparts when I was at work and should not be penalized for that. And that he had no right to withhold promotion/ stunt my career simply because I was part time. IN fact, the fact the work was so successful, and I was doing it in 3 days a week, for less money than my counterparts actually strengthened my case.

    My boss went quite pale by the end of my conversation (he’s fundamentally a nice guy). And went home and thought about what I had said.

    Next day I got promoted and a pay rise. But he would not have even considered it unless I had made a fuss

    Polly Buckland
    Polly Buckland
    Strategy Director, Create Health
  • I became very much aware of a gender imbalance within Creative during my first position as a junior copywriter. For quite a long time, I was the only woman in a creative team of ten. As a result, I was brought along to every creative pitch – whether I’d worked on it or not – to show that we were an inclusive business. Which of course we weren’t, both in terms of gender within Creative, and racially within the whole business. This experience helped me to take up more space on a personal level; as the only female representation in my team I needed to make my voice heard. But also, it taught me to challenge this status quo and to press the issue with decision-makers whenever there was talk of internships, grad events or positions became available.

    Lucy Harrison
    Creative Copywriter, Create Health
  • This International Women’s Day, let’s drop the stereotype that flexible working isn’t for men. We will only achieve gender equality when many more men take their #FlexibleFirst step, and we know the benefits of two way flexible working are there for everyone, regardless of their gender, race or disability status. Let’s work together to make the future of work a more inclusive place, where we all belong.

    Mel Exon
    Mel Exon
    Writer, Board Advisor and WACL (Women in Advertising & Communications Leadership) Leader, campaigning for organisations to be #FlexibleFirst in 2021.
  • Thanks to the pivotal shifts in societal expectations and of course the impact of #metoo, thankfully overt sexism has nearly disappeared from the workplace, but the danger of every day casual gender bias is unfortunately ever present. For me IWD is always a time to pause and reflect on the strength of the extraordinary strength of empathy and support of the sisterhood within my personal and professional life, as well as a chance to focus on the continued need to find our voice and break barriers. IWD also gives me a chance celebrate all the brilliant women I have worked with who have inspired and challenged me as well as reflect on ways to support and learn from the next generation of female leaders – as no matter how experienced you may be, you never stop learning.

    Sophie Daranyi
    Sophie Daranyi
    CEO of Omnicom Commerce Group (OMG), part of the Omnicom Global Communications Group
  • Health crisis, global warming, climate change, inequalities, harassment, … the breaking news today are often negative. Once a year, on March 8 we women can lean back and think about our achievements but also the road map for a brighter and more egalitarian future. We may challenge ourselves, our community, our family, etc. Challenge yourself, to reinvent the future.

    Christine Naschberger
    Professor Christine Naschberger
    Professor of Management and Human Resource Management at Audencia Business School
  • Women need to be heard when they speak; listened to with respect. I am fortunate to work with incredible people who do this. Although women in the advertising industry are making steps towards more gender equality, there’s room for improvement. So we still need to challenge each other on a daily basis to make sure we’re fully heard.

    Rebecca Nicholson
    Rebecca Nicholson
    Account Director, Truant London
  • Having spent 30 years working in businesses dealing with data and technology, I’ve often been only one of a few women present – whether that’s board meetings, customer consultations or industry conferences. I’ve relied on my passion, knowledge and confidence to speak out and challenge any situations which may be a result of, or lead to, inequalities of any kind, and I’m dedicated to bringing inclusive practices up the business agenda.

    “Alongside my “day job” as VP of International Marketing, I’m also dedicated to working on programmes to nurture and mentor women not just within my teams but across the company. For example, our recent “Validity Strong” initiative celebrates the fantastic work and values that women in our company bring to the business. International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to highlight the work that still needs to be done, but I always encourage my teams to challenge the status quo and call out any inequities they may encounter, whether in the workplace or beyond.

    Helen Parslow
    VP, International Marketing, Validity
  • Just be you. There is a role for all of us to play in this world together, as equals. Listening, understanding, reflecting, and moving forward with courage and wisdom from our lessons. Don’t give in to stereotypes, just be you.

    Sara Brennan
    Director, London World Schools Limited
  • For years, data has proven that women in leadership matters, and has a positive impact – but this year, International Women’s Day just hits differently. Because for the first time, a woman, who happens to be the American daughter of Black and South Asian immigrants, has risen to the second-highest political office in the land. The impact this has the potential to have on all women, and everyone regardless of gender identity, is almost immeasurable. While we have so much more work to do, moments like this remind me how far we’ve come, and energize me to keep pushing.

    Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall
    Head of Client Engagement at co:collective
  • This year’s International Women’s Day centres around Choose to Challenge. For me, I will be encouraging women to continue to challenge stereotype “norms”. The pandemic has given women both significant tests and the opportunity to shift their work life balance. As the working world attempts to return to normal we need to challenge employers to maintain the flexibility they have needed to provide. Women should absolutely request support with the inevitable logistical challenges they will face once offices and schools reopen. The pandemic has opened the eyes of many employees, to the new world of work, and that needs to become widely available not just for the select few.

    Laura Atkinson
    Laura Atkinson
    Chief Partner Officer at SAP UK
  • In today’s modern working environment it’s important to develop flexible attitudes, policies and everyday practices. Businesses of all sizes should think of diversity as being similar to people playing in an orchestra; everyone has different skills, abilities and musical backgrounds, so bring these together under your leadership and watch them create wonderful things together. This way, you will enjoy the benefits of high-performing individuals playing in a team environment. They will flourish and everyone will benefit from a diverse talent pool.

    Angela Love
    Angela Love
    Director at Active Workplace Solutions
  • I spent many years in an environment designed by, for, and dominated by men. Serving in the military I experienced the gender bias that saw women excluded from serving in over 30% of all posts across the RAF, Army and Navy. Proving that I could do the job as well as anyone else became my main objective. The determination to prove that everyone should be afforded opportunities based on merit has stayed with me throughout my working life and today I continue to #choosetochallenge by championing woman in the Facilities Management sector where I now work.

    Louisa Clarke
    Louisa Clark
    Managing Director-Operations, Churchill Group
  • International Women’s Day signifies recognition, appreciation, strength and realisation. It is so important to highlight our presence and achievements, especially while so many are still finding their voice. As a volunteer in the sporting industry, I am actively working to ensure all voices are heard and opinions valued. Gender equality is a tough debate to have when people still need to be convinced on issues like women competing in same distanced races as men (track and cross country). But it’s a challenge worth exploring.

    Nadia Williams
    Nadia Williams
    Business Support Manager, Churchill Group
  • When I started in the security industry as an officer, women were few and far between because they were mainly in HR and admin roles. At the time, as a woman working in security I was forced to prove myself as strong and tough. One of my old bosses used to highlight ‘the strongest man on his team’, which I, and other women, found incredibly insulting. However, it has evolved and it is fantastic to see how supported senior women in the security industry are in the present day. I know I could call on any woman working in security and they would go out their way to help, and vice versa.

    Breda Smead
    Breda Smead
    Operations Director at SmartSec Solutions
  • International Women’s Day has significance in many different ways for me. From a professional perspective, I feel it helps to support and shine a light on the amazing women in the industry constantly pushing to achieve equality, challenge gender bias and prove the amazing contribution diversity plays in the workplace.
    At times throughout my career, I have had to sometimes challenge and push to be assigned to certain projects associated with typically male dominated brands which have then gone on to help define my career. Unsurprisingly, in the UK there are just 13 female CEOs across the 350 largest publicly-traded companies, and large U.K. firms whose executive boards are one-third female are 10 times more profitable on average than all-male boards – something to keep in mind!
    At home, IWD means celebrating the strong women in my life. My mum, my wife, my daughter. Three generations of women that all represent so much of what it is to be a woman.
    This year, I also want to use this day to think of all the women out there dealing with these uncertain times. Living, working and surviving a pandemic! The mums who are bravely taking on home schooling, as well as having a full-time job, women that live alone, women that have started a new venture or those that may have suffered job losses or worse still family losses. Everyone has been affected in one way or another over the last year and we should use this day to come together and support each and every one of us!

    Rachel Faber
    Rachel Faber
    Digital Account Director at Avantgarde
  • As a woman who works predominantly in a man’s world- sport (and has a predominantly man’s name!) I’ve certainly dealt with gender bias and stereotyping.

    Many people are guilty of this, but I came to realise that I was also a culprit, not necessarily to other women, but to myself. It’s only as I’ve got older, wiser and more confident in who I am as a person that I have been able to challenge this.

    I love celebrating International Women’s Day, mainly for how it brings people together. It provides us with an excuse to lift each other up and celebrate our achievements, not just with women but with the men who support us too. Gender stereotyping will not be wiped out over-night, it will most likely take generations for us to see that happen, but each time we choose to challenge, it will take us that tiny step closer.

    Charlie Copsey
    CEO, CopC Productions
  • I love IWD as it allows us to focus for an entire day (or longer) on amazing women and their achievements. I wish we didn’t need to highlight women, but we do because “left to chance, women aren’t always given a fair chance”. It’s this reality that I challenge every day, not just once a year. My companies support proactive inclusion and equity for women and all under-represented groups by offering them extra opportunities; this helps level the playing field. Sometimes we get pushback for prioritising women and other people from under-represented groups. My answer is “I will continue to challenge anything I see in our society that isn’t right.” This International Women’s Day, and every day, I #ChooseToChallenge the current representation and treatment of women in publishing, literature, the media and business.

    Mindy Gibbins-Klein
    Founder of Panoma Press, REAL Thought Leaders and The Book Midwife®
  • Intelligence is everywhere, it’s opportunity that’s limited.

    With only 5 female CEOs at FTSE 100 companies, progress towards achieving a more representative balance at the most senior level, at top firms has been too slow. The pandemic has amplified the obstacles faced by women in the workplace. But recognition of the positive impact women in senior leadership have on businesses’ bottom lines is increasing. True change starts at the grass roots and every female employee has the power to challenge established practises which, for too long, have perpetuated gender biases. So, on this International Women’s Day, I hope women around the world will choose to challenge inequitable hiring practices. We want to see more female candidates, especially in traditionally male-dominated industries. Innovation and growth are best served by bringing the best talent via the broadest pool. Intelligence is everywhere, it’s opportunity that’s limited. Be the change you want to see and unleash your business’ potential.

    Emel Mohammadally
    Emel Mohammadally
    SVP EMEA, Lucid
  • For me, IWD is in and of itself about choosing to challenge. Whether we’re challenging gender bias, lazy tropes, the status quo or inequality, IWD is about sparking change and new conversations in a world that was inherently not made for us. As a strategist, I know that good strategy is deeply rooted in choosing to challenge: question your brief, question your audience, question your output, question your peers. So I invite everyone, IWD and beyond, to ‘choose to challenge’ and pave the way for future generations.

    Micaela Maciel
    Senior Creative Strategist, Amplify
  • Women in many places around the world are still fighting for equality both in law and application. The challenge for all of us is how best to support other women, especially when it comes to matters we consider fundamental: access to healthcare, childcare and education. I look forward to the day we can talk about business leaders rather than women business leaders for example – when the challenge of true parity has been achieved!

    Lindie Kramers
    Lindie Kramers
    CMO, Istoria Group
  • Much as I have enjoyed the wonderful conversations and gathering of IWD’s past, I find the day’s greatest impact is the spotlight it puts on women’s rights, equality, and the fights for these items. As leaders we can bring into focus where we were a year ago and where we are today. In today’s climate, a victory – like the one we potentially see with the adoption of flexible working, comes at a cost – in the US women represented all newly unemployed in December. It is important we have these global days of recognition to enthuse our future efforts, and remind us why we must continue to stand up for women throughout our workdays and home-lives.

    Mordecai
    Mordecai
    Principal, Mordecai Inc.
  • As a female at the helm of a distillery, I am in the minority within a male-dominated industry – as such I have come up against prejudicial behaviour in my time including refusal to speak to me simply because of my sex, shocking when you think that we’re in 2021! International Women’s Day is so important to keep pushing the agenda for female equality, including but not limited to the workplace; an annual reminder that it is 100% unacceptable to tolerate this kind of behaviour, to have the female voice heard and to celebrate female achievements across the board. In recognition of this we are re-naming all of our smaller stills after powerful women throughout history, and our main 450 Litre Holstein still has been renamed Rae, after my beautiful mum – the first aromatherapist in Canada who was my inspiration and a trailblazer in her field.

    Carmen O'Neal
    Carmen O'Neal
    Managing Director, 58 Gin
  • International Womens Day is about celebrating all women out there, women breaking barriers, women of all colour, women creating change for our next generation, women supporting women and so much more.

    Am Golhar
    Am Golhar
    Media Voice & Creative Business Media Strategist; Founder, Abstract PR
  • This last year has given a lot of women, including myself, space to realign and choose to challenge.

    I have always believed that sustainable, caring and self-sufficient communities are the way forward for us, and lockdown, although catastrophic for some, provided others, including myself with hope that there might be an opportunity to do something therapeutic for the planet after all. In lockdown I chose to challenge the norm, and set out to help and support communities who wanted to become more self-sufficient with the launch of Your Planet Doctors. Launched in 2020, the challenge for Your Planet Doctors was how to get people out into their gardens and growing their own fruit and vegetables.

    As a retired GP I didn’t know much about Facebook but it soon became apparent that was the avenue I needed to take. By setting up local community Growers Groups on Facebook, Your Planet Doctors was able to make a real difference to people during lockdown by providing advice, support, tips and most importantly, an online community to those that might not have been in one before – pivotal during lockdown. Now, nearly a year on, the Growers Groups have grown and we are providing a genuine and authentic service used by so many gardeners, and crucially, we’re bringing communities together and promoting sustainability. I am happy to say that I did choose to challenge, and I am ecstatic with the results, thank you to my army of volunteers and everyone who has helped make this happen!

    GP Anne Hayden (1)
    Anne Hayden
    Your Planet Doctors
  • International Women’s Day is so important to spotlight and highlight the inequalities that absolutely exist within societies. Challenges facing women today often have historical routes but ideas and institutional policies and practices passed down are still entrenched with incorrect assumptions about the ‘role’ or ‘limitations’ of women. These pervasive legacies absolutely need to be challenged in contemporary society.

    As an artist, much of my work is female empowerment related, for example tackling victim blaming in cases of sexual violence and assault in my ‘Asking for it’ project. My most recent work ‘Homefront’ examines how multiple global lockdowns have exacerbated issues, not unique to women, but certainly impacting them in a hugely disproportionate way, such as gender pay gap, domestic violence, post-natal trauma and the disproportionate amount of unpaid work done by women.

    That being said, International Women’s Day also affords opportunities to shout about our resilience and brilliance. It is an excellent platform to promote strong and powerful female role models to inspire the current and future generations. As an individual, a mother of two daughters and a Trustee of a teen empowerment charity for young women, I absolutely believe that every opportunity for social action should be utilised to forge a brighter and more equal future for our women and girls.

    Jayne Jackson
    Photographer
  • All my life, I’ve found myself in male dominated environments. I grew up in the countryside up north in Sweden, where I played soccer in the boys team, which meant that I had to learn early on how to challenge the norm.

    My career has taken me from business law to private equity, and now to the marine industry, which could be considered one of the most conservative industries around. While I’ve never had a problem being in these male-heavy environments, I have always wanted other women to get the same chances that I have had, and to also be accepted and able to work in these industries. As such, IWD has always been important to me, and I am convinced that greater gender diversity in all workplaces drives both innovation and returns. This belief was the reason why I founded the Nordics chapter of Level 20 – https://www.level20.org – an organisation dedicated to improving gender diversity in the private equity industry.

    Jenny Keisu, CEO, X Shore
    Jenny Keisu
    CEO, X Shore
  • 25 years ago, I was pursuing an MBA programme and March 8 arriving, I suggested full of enthusiasm, the organisation of an event to my female classmates. Answers were polite but no one was really pushing for it and nothing happened. Through discussions, I sensed that celebrating the International Women’s Day and gender equality was not a subject of interest.

    I’ve kept that in the back of my mind and years passing, I’m certain that answers would be very different today. Why? My interpretation is that we were still at an early stage in our professional careers and, including myself, not particularly exposed to any gender issue. We felt/believed that we had the same professional perspectives as men. Also, the exposure of the topic was nothing compared to today. Experience and awareness have certainly changed individual and collective perceptions.

    This is why, being perhaps a little too nostalgic, I stay very attached to International Women’s Day. We must celebrate it and use this special day as a platform to remind everyone (male and female) that women shouldn’t be the ones adjusting to a world dominated still by one gender. In the 21st century, this shouldn’t be a topic, a fight, but just an evidence! So viva March 8 until it transforms into an International Women and Men day!

    Claude Gaudillat Valérie
    Prof Valérie Claude Gaudillat
    Audencia
  • International Women’s Day provides an important platform to shine a light on the amazing achievements by women across the world. I have tried to challenge stereotypes throughout my career and be an advocate for women. I have worked in traditionally male dominated industries, investment banking and insurance, and I am now a minority female entrepreneur growing Tapoly. At Deutsche Bank I was an active member of the Women’s Network and I have mentored other women in business throughout my career. There is still further work to be done to provide equal opportunities and support to women in work, but I am inspired by the stories and accomplishments shared by women and organizations on this significant day.

    Janthana Kaenprakhamroy
    Janthana Kaenprakhamroy
    CEO of Tapoly
  • It’s funny; I’ve always thought of myself as a very ordinary woman. When I tell stories about what I’ve done, people think I challenge the gender bias pretty much in everything.

    I found myself working in the City of London, trading interest rates and currencies for a bank. An exciting and high paced job. We had to keep a cool head, a fast mind and a strong voice. We were about three women per hundred. I liked the risk and the adrenaline, but I wouldn’t say I enjoyed being paid less and the comments when I asked for more. We, women, didn’t matter because very soon we would be at home with babies they thought. Working for inadequate managers, year in and year out, I decided to go back to school and study again and go into leadership training.

    Since 2003 I have had my own training company and I make leaders out of managers. When you believe in yourself and your abilities, and go for what you want to do, you automatically win.

    Birgitta Sjostrand
    Birgitta Sjöstrand
    Author of "Outstanding in the Middle” and CEO of Inre styrka AB, Sweden
  • This year’s International Women’s Day theme of choosing to challenge inspires me as a fashion brand owner to keep challenging things in the fashion industry for change. Our brand ethos is to make all women feel amazing no matter what shape, size, age or stage of life they’re in. It’s my mission to make women feel equally represented in the fashion industry by challenging the norms. I’m so proud to be doing things differently such as using models of all different sizes, ages and backgrounds on our website and introducing a first of its kind Bump to Baby range this year so that pregnant women can feel amazing too!

    I am excited to continue celebrating women all over the world and believe we are stronger when we work and collaborate together. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some amazing women since launching the Perfect Dress Company, from models who understand and champion our ethos, to our social media community who always support us and provide honest feedback to help us grow and shape the brand. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings for us women!

    Sunny Bird
    Sunny Bird
    Founder of Perfect Dress Company
  • For me, International Women’s Day this year represents the power of change which can come from the challenges we’re faced with.
    The challenges of the last year have pushed us all, and what we’ve seen is an incredible resilience in the face of adversity.

    We’ve proved ourselves time and time again, and no matter what, we will look after those around us and find ways of overcoming whatever happens.

    By working together and supporting each other, we can lift each other up and make this work.

    Rosie Mead
    Founder of Musica Music
  • I believe that International Women’s Day should be a time to address the importance of care work in our lives, especially this year, after the pandemic has made even more blatantly clear the fundamental role that ‘invisible’ labour – such as parenting, housework and caring for family members – has in our society and economy.

    Women take charge for 75% of the unpaid care and domestic work worldwide. This is valued between 10-39% of GDP – contributing more to the economy than commerce, for example, yet it is rarely recognised officially as work.

    While many professional fields are making progress, by excluding unpaid care work from our understanding and evaluation of the economy, we are preventing those who perform it to receive the support and infrastructures they need and to be recognised and rewarded as a vital part of our society.

    Bruna Capozzoli
    Bruna Capozzoli
    Head of Creative Content, On the Edge Conservation
  • It’s interesting on International Women’s Day to reflect on how many powerful women there are in design and the difference they can make – sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious, but always positive. I champion a workplace and profession with many different voices – and our buildings and architecture are undoubtedly far more interesting for this. I am proud to be part of the challenge to make sure the places we live, work and play in embody a true mix of all our talents, visions and needs.

    Pippa Nissen
    Pippa Nissen
    Director of Nissen Richards Studio
  • Sometimes when I see so few women in leadership in the tech industry, I experience imposter syndrome and self-doubt. At other times, I use this inequality I see to fuel my focus to work hard, succeed and drive change. I believe that the best way for us to challenge the status quo, is to challenge ourselves to put self-doubt aside.

    Amellia Scott
    Amellia Scott
    Regional Vice President EMEA Sales and Global Sales Programs at Culture Amp
  • Supporting equality for women in the workplace has been hugely important to me since the beginning of my career, and International Women’s Day to me is a fantastic way to bring to the forefront, and celebrate, the support of women year-round.

    I was confronted very early on in my career with the gender bias and inequality that permeates the professional world. Entering client meetings as a newly qualified lawyer, small, blonde and looking younger than my 23 years, I quickly saw the way clients focused on and paid attention to the words of my male counterparts instead of me (most likely the person who actually did the work for that client!) I felt I had to prove my intelligence and ability to advise clients far more than my male counterparts and this sparked my passion to make real change around gender bias and support women (and men in terms of addressing what is usually unconscious bias) in my profession and beyond to deal with and combat these issues

    Emma Swain
    Head of Legal, UNLIMITED
  • IWD is an opportunity to celebrate what so many women have achieved to create a better, safer, and more equitable world. I am in awe of so many women and what they achieve. Sex is still a key determinant of pay, treatment, whether someone is given a chance to fly in a company, or whether they are safe on the streets. A challenge for us all – women, and their male allies, is to decide on one practical thing we are going to do that we can celebrate the success of next year.

    Jane Farrell
    Jane Farrell
    Co-founder and Chief Executive, EW Group
  • Today’s growing digital economy – accelerated by the pandemic – holds a new opportunity for women. With a heightened demand for remote working and personalised customer service, we need a fresh take on leadership that unites employees, clients and partners.
    Women have this ability. In fact, research by Harvard Business Review tells us that women are better leaders during a crisis than men.
    And this is why I Choose to Challenge gender stereotypes this International Women’s Day – a day that inspires me annually to support all women in the workplace. I choose to bring my authentic self to work – and I encourage others to do the same. The time for more women at the helm really is now.

    Karen Penney Headshot
    Karen Penney
    Vice President, UK Payments Products, Western Union Business Solutions
  • As a woman who owns a business I always acknowledge and celebrate International Women’s Day, raising a glass to all of those who have come before, championing our cause and amplifying our voices. We have achieved so much as a gender and I can only hope that future generations of women are inspired to do so much more. My work as a PR advisor helps entrepreneurs and thought leaders be seen and heard in their industry, and I am proud to represent so many inspirational women around the world who are either leading or disrupting their market sector and have such amazing expertise and experience to offer.

    Alison Shadrack headshot lowres
    Alison Shadrack
    Founder and CEO of Adia PR
  • In recent years, IWD has become to me a day of reflection. In 2019, for example, I had a long look at the reasons why I had been using relaxers and keratin treatments on my hair since my childhood, and how they were mostly related to how others perceive me. That reflection alone made me realize that they weren’t helping my self-esteem in the long run.

    Victoria Bevilacqua, Graphic Designer, FutureBrand São Paulo
    Victoria Bevilacqua
    Graphic Designer, FutureBrand São Paulo
  • From cars that are 71% less safe for women as crash test dummies are based on 50th percentile males, PPE that is putting women at risk as it has been designed for men (when ironically 75% of workers in the NHS are women), to voice recognition technology that can’t understand women as well because algorithms are tested on male data sets. This problem is caused by a lack of gender balanced data. If we want to create products that work for both men and women, fundamentally we have to update this data and close the gap.

    Anna Sutherland
    Anna Sutherland
    Senior Designer at creative innovation agency Echo
  • I believe International Women’s Day can be a catalyst for change, and this year I will be using it as an opportunity to impact those in my professional network. FutureBrand and UXUS are joining forces to offer a global mentorship scheme across the two companies. Women in leadership positions at both businesses will offer 45 minutes of their time to mentor and coach others in the company who have opted to be part of the scheme. This initiative is incredibly exciting and enables me to share what I have learned over the years and to make a difference to those in our community. I truly believe I will get as much out of the one-to-one session as my mentee.

    Queenie Lo, CEO of FutureBrand UXUS (2)
    Queenie Lo
    CEO of UXUS
  • IWD is about paving the way for my daughter, and all the other daughters, to be whoever they want to be and do whatever they want to do. No limits!

    Nicole Lonsdale
    Chief Client Officer, Kinetic
  • International Women’s Day is an opportunity to continue to highlight the awareness of the ongoing gap that women face, whether that is pay or being judged on performance not potential. I love the theme #ChooseToChallenge as it enables the right to speak for inclusivity.

    This global pandemic, like all major crises, has impacted minority groups disproportionately. In the US alone, 2 million women have lost their jobs since February 2020 and more women have left the workforce than jobs have been lost. On average there has been an additional 27 hours of house work – child care, cleaning etc and women bore the brunt of it. Looking at the stats across the board, in terms of influencing the workforce, it seems as if we’re back in the 1980’s.

    I’d encourage all leaders to carefully consider their policies for women who are currently in the workforce and those who have left so they don’t pay the price of a “Covid tax” for taking time out.

    Traci Alford
    President and CEO of Effie Worldwide
  • Since I have been able to make a choice, choose to challenge has been my mantra. I always question stereotypes and strive to be the most authentic version of myself. It was expected I would automatically follow my father’s footsteps and be a surgeon. I chose Mathematics instead, because I was passionate about reasoning and creativity.

    On graduation, it was assumed that I would be a schoolteacher. But I wanted to be part of an exciting new world, and instead joined a small payments software company. By constantly challenging myself, I achieved success at different levels. I co-owned one of the first German fintechs – eps AG – focused on payments, and later sold the company at a premium to a larger vendor

    Now working at Fiserv, I’ve always looked beyond my stated role to get more involved in technical conversations and help shape the direction of the products and the business. I wanted to fill the role with a new meaning and add tangible value for my customers. The pandemic gave me the opportunity to learn how to manage customer relationships in a personal way, provide better service to my clients and achieve great results for my company.

    Fiserv has given me a chance to grow my career and contribute positively. I have worked with and mentored bright women to progress on their career path. I am passionate about everything I do, and I choose to challenge others and myself every day to bring out the best. That’s the only way to grow and move forward.

    Felitas Aguilar
    Felitas Aguilar
    Global Key Account Manager, Fiserv
  • International Women’s Day is a reminder for men and women across the world to unite to challenge the status quo and build a better and fairer future; to remember those who have sacrificed before us to bring society to where we are today.

    But, more than just a day, it is also a wakeup call that inequality still exists, and in 2021 that simply isn’t acceptable. Women around the world must all have the right to be heard, to be respected, in all aspects of their lives.

    I am lucky to work at a company that is working hard to be ‘open by default’ – whatever your gender (or age, sexual orientation or multi-cultural background) – you can be yourself. We #ChooseToChallenge and reflect on the global impacts of inequality around the world. Everyone has a role to play in driving change – individuals, Governments, businesses and more.

    This is an opportunity for companies from multinationals to start ups to take a step back and consider what they can do to help. At Finastra, for us that means ensuring fairness in everything we do, from the way we build our workforce to the way we build technology, and how we help the financial services industry tackle this issue. How do we help eradicate bias in financial services lending or credit decisions, for example?

    Let us all use March 8 as a spring board for a global movement that inspires people towards creating a world that is open, a world that is fair, and a world in which everyone is equal.

    Sharon Doherty
    Sharon Doherty
    Chief People and Places Officer at Finastra
  • The stereotype I challenged was it’s okay to be softer, quieter and be in my feminine energy to lead successfully. The results are stronger connections, relationships and trust as I was authentic to who I was and didn’t’ try and fit into the old masculine perception of what leadership is.

    Joanna Howes 1
    Joanna Howes
    Leadership and Performance Coach
  • International Women’s Day is a chance to reflect on the progress made and to think about the progress yet to be made. When I think about what it means to me, it is all about freedom and choice. We are not all the same and deserve the right and freedom to choose what path we wish to take both in our careers and personal lives.

    “Growing up as the only girl in my family I was constantly battling with subtle gender bias, and then early in my career I was told I wouldn’t be able to be an investment manager. Rather than allow such comments to deter me, it only served to seal the deal for me, making it the only thing I wanted to do.

    “Every client will have a different requirement from their investment manager and therefore deserves to have the choice over who manages their wealth. Having more diversity within the industry only allows us to serve our clients better.

    Kate Palmer
    Kate Palmer
    Investment Manager at Rathbone Investment Management in Winchester
  • We are surrounded by more female role models than ever before. When I first became a CEO in Financial Services I was one of, if not the only, female CEO in the sector. Alongside the firm’s female Sales and Marketing Director, there was an expectation we met many times that we would be male. There was often a look of surprise that followed first introductions. Something that, thankfully, I no longer face.

    “I feel that those of us in senior roles have an absolute duty to inspire and mentor our female successors. Not just the next level but throughout the industry and beyond. Those successors should bring diversity including but beyond gender, they should reflect our clients now and in the future, our society and bring a cognitive diversity that builds a healthy future to the business world.

    “At Link Group the Executive team and Board, of which I am one, are 44% female. This is wonderful but still far too unusual and there is still more to do, both within our own company and certainly in the financial services sector. At Link we have appointed a diversity project team whose role, in part, will be to challenge any stereotypes or bias that may be found, as well as formed a corporate partnership with Young Enterprise to help motivate young people to succeed in the changing world of work by equipping them with the work skills, knowledge and confidence they need. I am really looking forward to this and to using the partnership to promote the role of women in business so that in the future, equality, and women in the highest echelons of business, isn’t even a talking point.

    Susan Ring
    Susan Ring
    CEO Corporate Markets of Link Group
  • As we approach IWD for another year, we can’t help but contextualise womanhood through a lens of the year before us. From major global events, vital conversations and a somewhat shift in global consciousness, 2020 definitely did something unique to the human psyche. Regardless of gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, disability or religion… disruption happened and is still happening.
    When it comes to women in the international sense, it’s important that we continue to expand the framework of how we value different identities, voices, contributions and struggles of women locally and globally. Everything is socially constructed, and people are realising that it’s far better to name issues than pretend they don’t exist. Nuances exist within communities, and for womanhood- the need for addressing more intersectionality continues. We have a responsibility to take action for the injustices of women who do not fit the mainstream, it’s not enough to just be “aware” anymore, we’re over awareness! There is still a lot of learning and unlearning that needs to take place to dismantle the structures which keep black women and disabled women for example silenced. Diverse equity among all women is the goal not just some, and to achieve this opportunities and space need to be created, mics need to be passed and credit needs to be paid. I hope this IWD sets a new tone for women who are constantly overlooked or whose ideas often plagiarised a chance to reap from their own talents, experiences and cultures on a commercial level.

    Happy International Women’s Day.

    Eberé Anosike
    Eberé Anosike
    Diversity Insights Consultant, DECA Media Consultancy
  • For me, International Women’s Day is the perfect excuse to celebrate everything girl power! As a Mummy to two young girls, I know how important it is to show them that women are absolutely amazing and that we ALWAYS deserve equal rights and opportunities throughout our lives.

    Kathryn Bell
    Kathryn Bell
    COO of The Webinar Vet
  • My 5 year old daughter is growing up without gender restricting her ambition. That is what IWD is all about.

    Alice Kilpatrick Head of Film The Creative Engagement Group
    Alice Kilpatrick
    Head of Film, The Creative Engagement Group
  • For me, International Women’s Day is always a great reminder that I’m not alone: that millions of inspirational women have come before me and millions will follow, all striving to achieve greatness in our chosen professions, whether that be as an executive, an apprentice, a mother, a carer. We all choose different paths, but I’m reminded of the wisdom and insight in our collective experience, which both humbles and emboldens me, which in turn galvanises my motivation, particularly when times have been (and will be again) tough.

    Sallie Coventry
    Head of Client Engagement US, The Creative Engagement Group
  • From being ignored when speaking, to being called a princess when I chose to leave a workplace, there have always been men that have clearly been comfortable in trying to put me ‘in my place’. It would be easy for me to have had my confidence knocked, but from an early career age I was taught that it was their problem and not mine, so every comment only made me more determined.

    I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the incredible supportive and empowering male leaders and colleagues I have encountered in my career – it’s to them that I choose to focus my energy and to go out of my way to thank them and tell them the difference they have made for me. Choose to challenge every unjust comment or behaviour you see or receive – but focus your personal energy in those positive influencers and ensuring they inspire and encourage others to follow in their footpaths.

    Madelaine Allen
    Head of Axiom EU (Scientific Engagement), The Creative Engagement Group
  • International Women’s day is a day to recognise and celebrate women, their amazing achievements and progress that has been made whilst also representing an opportunity to reflect and highlight areas that still require further change or action. I’ve personally learnt or taken inspiration from each and every woman that I have worked with professionally – be it through hearing about their positive or negative experiences they have encountered within their own careers, how they approach certain situations or their outlook on life and work.

    Danielle Evans Internal Talent Partner Delete Kagool
    Danielle Evans
    Internal Talent Partner, Delete/Kagool
  • International Women’s Day is a special day each year to celebrate the successful achievements of women around the globe. Equality. All people have equal opportunities to make the most of their talents. Respect. Qualities and differences of women are truly valued.

    I live and work in the male-dominated IT industry. Although I have led the tech development department since 2008, my challenge, being female and Russian-born, is to always strive to build my knowledge and professional experience to deserve respect and trust of my colleagues and clients. I am very proud to have received the Sitecore MVP award for the second time in a row.

    Kate Orlova Delete Kagool
    Kate Orlova
    Head of Solutions Architecture, Delete/Kagool
  • International Women’s Day is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate all the successes and achievements of women around the world. The role models from the past, present and those going forward who have amplified women’s voices for the future of young women.

    Vicki Richards
    Employee Experience Director, Delete/Kagool
  • I feel there are a lot of days for the sake of days sometimes, but IWD is one that actually still holds some weight and meaning. We’re not there with gender equality, far from it, but this day offers the chance to reflect and celebrate the huge strides that have been made in both the distant and recent past. It’s important not to lose sight of that.

    Lauren Crennell HR Manager Delete Kagool
    Lauren Crennell
    HR Manager, Delete/Kagool
  • Last week, I sat in awe as my family and I witnessed the safe landing of the NASA Mars spacecraft PERSEVERANCE. As we watch the coverage of those tense moments in the run up to the landing, I was struck by how well represented women were in the senior team (in all there were 7 senior women involved in the mission to land the rover and leading the subsequent exploration of the planet).

    I realised that I was seeing history as it happened – both in terms of the mission itself and the incredible steps women all over the world are taking to break through. Perseverance is indeed the name of the game for women in all walks of life, and having persevered myself in a male dominated setting, I am all too well aware of the energy and courage it takes to stick to an ambitious mission as a woman.

    The cherry on the cake? Was when my 7 year old ballet loving daughter turned to me and said ‘I think I want to be the first girl to dance on Mars Mummy’. And why not?!

    Beth Hood
    Beth Hood
    Founder and Director, Verosa Leadership
  • What can we do today to have the guts to choose to challenge? First, find a purpose to your life and name your goals. Defining and reconfirming your driving force will immensely help fuel your motivation and energy to act. Then, as you convince yourself of your purpose, find allies and build a movement around you. Energise your community and motivate your network. Remember to build bridges, work across divides, convince the unconvinced and create a powerbase to help you and your movement to act. Remember that if you want to walk fast walk alone, but if you want to walk far, walk together. Every step in the direction of inclusion and sustainable progress, no matter how minute or immense, will help the world become a better place for all.

    Aleksandra Gren
    Aleksandra Gren
    Executive Board Member, Fiserv Poland
  • Whilst we have come a long way, there is still so much more that can be done and IWD is a great way to encourage people to think about ways they can help women. I often think about women in difficult situations, who maybe living under duress or in countries where they have not made as much progress when it comes to gender equality. The more we – both men and women – work together to challenge the boundaries the more progress we will make.

    Catherine Roe - Elior
    Catherine Roe
    Chief Executive, Elior UK
  • International Women’s day to me is the day we can sit back and remind ourselves of all the wonderful women around the world; past, present and future; across all cultures, political backgrounds and social classes. For me it is a day of inspiration, pride but also hope as we take the global voice as a society to really stand up against the inequality we face, in the hope of a better future for all the young girls and women around the world.

    Leni Savva - Elior - IWD Photo
    Leni Savva
    Chief Financial Officer, Elior UK
  • Curiosity and empathy are the way to challenge ignorance and bias on every level. Having open and courageous conversations around our own biases and enables us all to learn. The unique value individuals bring can only be empowered by enabling them to break beyond any assumed expectations and stereotypes.

    Becky McOwen-Banks
    Becky McOwen-Banks
    Executive Creative Director
  • As Managing Director of an agency challenging the way things have always been done, challenging what is ‘enough’ in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion is vital. I want to see continuous change in the way we build and operate our workplaces – and the tangible, positive impact on the work we do.

    Sarah Baumann
    Managing Director
  • Thankfully I’m rarely the only woman in the room – or if I am, I’m happy to ask why. As one of 5 women in a leadership team of 9, I’m keen to empower and enable others to have a seat at the table.

    Zoe Mitchell
    Zoe Mitchell
    Marketing & Growth Director
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