International Women’s Day (IWD) takes place each year on 8th March. It’s a day to celebrate the social, economic and political achievements of women, reflect on progress and commend the achievements of women in all walks of life, all around the world.
Here’s a Q&A we conducted with a number of women at Assetz Capital
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It’s a chance to raise awareness of why we celebrate International Women’s Day and why it’s so important. Due to some incredible women that came before us, we have greater access to education; more equitable pay with men; the right to initiate divorce proceedings; the right of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy (including access to contraceptives and abortion). Thanks to social media, connection on an international level is much easier than in the past and on International Women’s Day, it’s always amazing to see both men and women sharing inspirational stories about women and what they have achieved.
It’s a chance to talk about how far there is to go and why we focus on advocating for women’s rights rather than at a starting point where men and women are equal – which is the ultimate aim.
For me, it’s a celebration. It’s about feeling empowered about being a woman, who you are, what you do and the difference you make, whether that be in the workplace, your home environment or in society.
A day to celebrate the power and potential of women around the world. Recognising the courage, and leadership women have in making progress towards a more gender-equal world.
It’s a reminder that, although there have been significant changes over the years, and improvements in terms of diversity, there is still a culture where senior management teams are predominantly made up of men.
What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?
I remember reading an article about self-promotion and how essential it is for career advancement. The article suggested that men are far more at ease with self-promotion than women, using an example where women who are given the opportunity of a new job or promotion may not put themselves forward because they are not confident in absolutely everything listed on the job spec, as opposed to men who would potentially ignore what they can’t do and focus more on what they can. I’m not sure if this is 100% true and obviously everyone is different, but it definitely inspired and motivated me to push myself forward when I am given a new opportunity and focus on my strengths and have more confidence in myself and my abilities.
I think for me it’s to believe in yourself. There have been so many times when I have doubted my abilities and worried about not being able to do something, but when I look back at what I have achieved, and the obstacles/challenges that I have overcome (sometimes without even realising) I know I can be proud of myself.
Be a lifelong learner – this is relevant to business and personal life, there is always something new to learn.
On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
I have an 8-year-old daughter and she sometimes says that she can’t play with a certain toy or a particular game because she thinks it’s for boys, not girls – I always tell her that all toys and games are for both boys and girls and that when she grows up, she can do whatever job she wants to do regardless what others may think or say. I would say the same to any young women thinking about their careers, they should not be put off by what is labelled as a man’s job or a woman’s job- if they gain the right skills and have the right attitude, they can work in whatever industry they want to.
My message would be, to be proud and proud of the decisions you make. Don’t feel the need to justify yourself or who you are. If you are a working mum with a successful career, a stay-at-home mum, or a single woman who is happy as she is and independent, just do you! I read an article by HR professionals discussing international women’s day and was interested in a quote by Dr Julie Hodges (Associate Dean & Professor of Durham University) who said, “We need to get rid of the view that either you have to be superwoman (with several children, nannies, a cook and so on) or a selfish, single woman who does nothing but focus on her career. We also need to get rid of the view that to succeed, women need to work harder, work longer, and be much tougher than men.”
When going for a job do your homework, be passionate, and use any connections you have. Set your sights high, be willing to work the hardest to succeed and stay out of office politics.
Don’t be afraid to show empathy, it isn’t a sign of weakness. Being aware of the other party, and what they want/need from the interaction or being mindful that what is a non-event for one person, could be life-changing for another; neither of these detracts from a person’s ability to do their job. In many cases, these enhance that ability. To paraphrase Jacinda Ardern, you can be kind and strong.
Why did you choose your current job role?
I have always been passionate about improving processes and problem-solving, so it was always a natural next step for me to become a change manager. I also enjoy working with all types of colleagues at all different levels of a business which my role allows me to do.
I chose my role here at Assetz as part of a longer career goal, I like the vision for the company, the executive team are very strong and the culture here is unrivalled.
My background is in Retail Management, and I have always enjoyed working with people, learning about the people I work with and the best way for me to work alongside them as individuals. I wanted to know a bit more about the background of People Practice, to drive and support change in HR and learn how culture and morale can be improved and maintained in the workplace.
If you could have dinner with any inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Marilyn Monroe – because despite her ditzy blonde image, she knew exactly what she was doing and was extremely clever. Not content to let leading men hog the spotlight, she took acting lessons to improve herself, because in her opinion; “Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.”
Amelia Earhart – because she was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic and was the first woman to be rewarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross. While other women were being held back by a male-dominated society, Amelia was breaking records. Her message to other women was that “the woman who can create her own job is the woman who will win fame and fortune.”
Ellen Pompeo – as a Grey’s Anatomy fanatic, it would be my dream to sit down with her and get any inside gossip about what goes on, on set!
Agatha Christie – a massively inspirational female writer, I believe she paved the way for future women novelists and film directors taking inspiration from her success in such early years. (I’d also like to know what happened to her when she disappeared!)
The obvious one – is Emmeline Pankhurst. The commitment it takes to drive forward a revolution in that way, the resilience they must have had to keep fighting. I think that would be interesting.
JK Rowling – she went from being a single mum to a multi-millionaire in a few years, she created Harry Potter and made reading cool again for kids.
Rosa Parks – how could I not? That act of not giving up her seat on the bus in 1955 was so courageous and helped changed the lives of millions of people.
The late Queen Elizabeth – her life was nothing short of extraordinary and her dedication to her ‘job’ unrivalled. I’d love to ask all these women how they did it, and what got them through the tough times.
“It’s fantastic to hear from some of the brilliant women working here at Assetz Capital, historically finance has been a male dominated industry, that is not how we see the present or the future of our business. That’s why it’s important we all continue to raise awareness for International Women’s Day and ensure equality for all women in and outside the workplace.
‘Shout out to all our women here at Assetz, you’re doing an exceptional job!”
Andrew Charnley, Managing Director at Assetz Capital
“It’s great to celebrate how far we’ve come towards gender equality, whilst at the same time remembering how difficult a journey it’s been; some of the things we take for granted today, women have previously fought for.
‘I’m proud to be the Chief People Officer for a company where women are recognised and encouraged at all levels and who are seen, heard and valued just as much as their male counterparts. As a company, we strive to attract, develop, promote and retain women. We have some phenomenal women working for us who I’m thrilled to work alongside”.
Alison Dingwall, Chief People Officer at Assetz Capital
Check out these great blogs on International Women’s Day
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