Today is International Women’s Day, a day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of all women around the world. This year, the theme is #BeBoldForChange, a call to forge a better (and more gender inclusive) working world.
Here at Work.Life, we know a thing or two about kick-ass women. In fact, bar three men, Work.Life is entirely staffed by women! Our amazing female members represent so many different industries, leadership positions, and ways of working, that our offices are a pretty inspiring place to be…if we do say so ourselves!
So, to celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked some of the awesome Women of Work.Life what this day means to them, and the odd cheeky tip for women in business.
Grace Burrows, Work.Life Membership Manager, Verizon
Cliché as it is, my mum is my #1 female role model. Raised in the suburbs by a working-class family, she fought her way to the top of the 80s banking food chain. Forced to hide any signs of being a woman, including her own pregnancy (with me!), she is a reminder that although a lot has changed for women, a lot hasn’t; we continue to live in a man’s world. That’s why International Women’s Day is so important. It reminds us to keep going, to keep changing, and to keep improving the world so that it is easier for the next generation of women, and for the next and for the one’s after that!
Lucinda Bayly, Digital Marketing Co-Ordinator, Mucho
International Women’s Day means celebrating all the extraordinary women in my life. To me, it signifies a day where girls and women all over the world can remember that they can do anything. I have so so so many female role models – I have an incredible amount of female friends who are absolutely killing it all over the world at the moment in their respective fields, so they’re inspiring me every day. Also, my Mum! I have also been lucky to always work alongside teams of women throughout my career. Through this, I’ve learnt that it’s a matter of supporting and listening to everyone equally, and not immediately placing people into a certain box based on their gender, or any kind of demographic they fit into. This goes for everyone, not just women. I think just celebrating and caring for the women in my life, especially the most vulnerable, every second every minute every hour every day every week every month every year forever. Don’t just celebrate & support & raise up the women in your life on International Women’s Day – do it always.
Sarah Mourtada, Work.Life Digital Marketing Manager
Happy International Women’s day, y’all! One day really isn’t enough to celebrate all the amazing women in the world, but hey – we’ll take it! Today is important to me because I am a woman, raised by a single mother, working in a field which is dominated by men – so I really couldn’t be more proud to be a woman today. Saying that, I am very lucky because I was raised by a strong, independent and hard-working woman who was the perfect female role model for a girl growing up in the 90s with many pressures to look pretty, act pretty and ‘know your place’! These pressures still exist, so it’s important that the next female generations grow stronger. I’ll always try to be a strong female role model myself in hopes that it will help other girls and women in my life know that they can be too.
Jilly Cross, Founder & Managing Director, Bravand
I guess my main tip would be to apply the “Where’s the benefit?“ approach. At times, things can get very stressful, heated, you can feel out of control, angry, hard done by, cheated, the lot. Years ago, whenever I felt this, defensive and sometimes angry emails would simply fly from my outbox and actually make an already stressed situation even worse (we all know how it feel to be told to “calm down” or that we’re being too emotional, right?). By asking yourself “where’s the benefit to them and where’s the benefit to me?” to all messages you send out, you can completely take the stress out of a situation and focus on what really matters which is to move the situation on. I now even apply this approach to proposal writing, which has worked wonders and actually saved me a lot of time and worry.
Natasha Lipman, Work.Life Social Media Manager
#BeBoldForChange means a fair amount to me, not just as a woman, but as a disabled woman. For all the challenges that women face in attaining equality, disabled women are often invisible and face an even greater challenge. Today I celebrate the strong women and activists in my life who never let any hardship or limitation stop them from raising their voices to defend what they believe is right. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have strong women encourage, mentor, and support me towards achieving my goals, and I strongly believe in the importance of paying this forward . I’m still learning every day, and I’m so grateful for the amazing women, podcasts, and books which are helping me notice some of the ingrained habits that I’ve picked up over the years. No more “miss nice girl”, no more qualifying statements, no more apologising, just ass-kicking all day, every day (with plenty of naps thrown in!)
Clemence Billoud, Work.Life Membership Manager, Camden
To me, International Women’s Day is about recognising the barriers so many women – even those with privilege – face in this day and age. Just last week, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, a Polish Member of European Parliament declared that “Of course women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent, and they must earn less. That is all.” I mean – come on! There’s so much to be angry about – domestic violence, the wage gap, the ridiculously low conviction rate for rape cases, the tampon tax, sexist advertising, talk about ‘being grabbed by the pussy’ (!), and just the fact that women can’t walk around freely in public without fearing or experiencing sexual, physical or verbal harassment. Every woman I know has been on the receiving end of this crap in some form (and that’s the polite version).
At the same time, I feel energised and inspired by the women in my life – my colleagues, friends, family and the women I perform comedy & do music with. I love being able to share experiences with them & encourage each other. International Women’s Day is also about celebrating each other’s strength and talent, which is sorely needed when we spend so much time being apologetic or beating ourselves up about who we are and what we do.
In spite of everything I think people are increasingly seeing the inequality and injustices at all levels of society and to me, it’s such an exciting time to be a part of that movement and the progress being made.
Leanne Creasey, Work.Life Membership Manager, Bermondsey
I’d love to be able to say that, for me, International Women’s Day is about celebrating women’s power, strength, importance and equality with men but sadly I can’t do that. To me, it’s still about fighting for our right to be treated the same as men. To earn us much, to have as many opportunities, to have as much of a voice. It’s easy for us women who have grown up with loving and supportive parents and family around us, leading comfortable lives to forget that other women are not so fortunate. Many women across the globe still suffer abuse in many forms and international women’s day is an important reminder that we shouldn’t waive the flag just yet. A role model for me, has to be Aung San Suu Kyi – who gave up what could have been a comfortable life of exile in England, to fight for the right to run her native country and never gave up on her people’s right to freedom. She makes me think about what I would give up- or could give up, to keep the fight for women’s equality well and truly alive. Most importantly – she reminds me that no matter how comfortable, we should never take the rights we now have for granted by not pushing forward in our struggle for true equality.
Lily Coote, Work.Life Membership Assistant, London Fields
International Women’s Day, to me, means equality, and it is a kind recognition for all the women out there that have done so much. I think most of my role models are female, but at the moment Lena Dunham is really doing it for me. I read her book “not that kind of girl” and then began to binge watch her series “Girls”. It’s really inspiring, it makes me feel like I can do anything. Women often say “I’m so lucky I got that job” and “oh I don’t know how I did it” – No, you worked hard! I think we should encourage each other to take ownership of all the things that we achieve and overcome at work. We make our own luck, and we work hard so we should be proud! Let’s pat each other on the back more often and tell each other how great we are. Listen to Lady Gaga’s “Hey Girl” and you’ll get the idea.
Manuela Gomes, Work.Life Membership Assistant, Camden
International Women’s Day is a reminder of what women have overcome throughout the years, and how far we’ve come. Perhaps weirdly, I’ve never had a role model, but I consider Frida Khalo as an inspiration. She’s passed through so much pain and sorrow, but kept doing what she was doing. In the workplace, women still need equality. This means that people, regardless their sex, should have equal pay and equal treatment. A woman shouldn’t earn less because she’s perceived to be “weaker” than a man. Equally, a man shouldn’t be called a “pussy” just because he refuses to take part in some activities. Balance is what we need in the society, and extremism should cease to exist! I’d love to see people take more action against inequality, and call it as you see it. Even small things can make a difference to empower other women. I try my best to compliment, congratulate, make sure that the women in my life feel empowered, recognised and positive.
Akua Appiah-Ampofo, Work.Life HR & Talent Manager
I feel proud when I think of the inspiring work of the Women’s Suffrage movement. It’s crazy to think that women only got the equal right to vote in 1928 (a little known fact – it wasn’t all done in 1918!) And yet, we still face many challenges today. Despite the Equal Pay Act, women are still paid, on average, 24.6% less than men, and there are still a hurdles we must jump in our careers every day. It’s important that we continue to empower other women. I strongly believe that there is a business case for an improvement to our benefits package at work for both men and women, and I’m an advocate for creating a coaching forum on empowering women in our workplace (both staff and members!) in presentation skills and commercial acumen. I already do a bit of coaching in my local network, specifically working with return to work mums, helping them navigate the unconscious bias that they still must face around that.
Ana Bernardo, Work.Life Membership Manager, London Fields
Is there a better way to end this post than with some musical inspiration on this Women’s Day from a powerful woman, an egalitarian, and one of my favourite singers of all time: Nina Simone – 4 Women