International Women’s Day 2022 - #BreakTheBias
Today (Tuesday 8 March) is International Women’s Day. A day marked annually as an opportunity to celebrate, raise awareness and move towards gender equality. This year the theme is #BreakTheBias with a focus on the action needed to level the playing field.
In this blog, Allison Newell, Executive Director of Strategy, Business Development and Growth at the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), speaks about generational changes and how to enhance equality today to create a sustainable tomorrow.
How do we enhance equality today to create a sustainable tomorrow?
I am thrilled to have been asked by the NHSBSA Women’s Network, of which I am an active member, to contribute to the global International Women’s Day (IWD) movement.
IWD and its purpose is something I care deeply about and want to help with, as my mother and grandmothers, did for me and other women. They did this by challenging stereotypes and being highly successful in roles that women had not been encouraged or supported to do so. I am so proud of them for how they stood up for themselves. All so that in time, women like us could do more if given more opportunities.
How might we ‘enhance equality today to create a sustainable tomorrow’?
I have listed 10 things we need to do:
- We need to recognise the achievements and progress we have seen so far as valuable and a cause for celebration, but to assume this progress is enough would be a mistake.
- We need all of us to take up the baton for change willingly, and without the need for legislation.
- While International Women's Day activities escalate on 8 March, we need employers to maintain a deep and continuous focus on equality, diversity, and inclusion all year round for women.
- We need organisations worldwide to have progressive policies, practices, benefits, and support mechanisms so women's careers can thrive and ensure workplaces offer appealing job opportunities while celebrating women.
- We need to note all the energy and effort that has gone into the gender diversity agenda so far. By this I mean, diversity of gender, diversity of thought, diversity of voice, diversity of culture, diversity of perspective, diversity of life experience and more, much more. This has opened the eyes of leaders and people across the globe to the value of what women bring. We need to use this now to create a sustainable tomorrow.
- While we know the benefits of diverse teams, I am encouraged by the progress made in the past decade. We are still a long way from seeing gender parity at leadership levels. We need to continue to ensure women have more opportunities today, so they are ready for tomorrow.
- As we move into the new phases of work, the progress we have made must be seen as ‘fuel in the tank’ for the next big push in creating a sustainable tomorrow. The targets we set out today will bring clarity to future goals. We need to share best practices, agitate or change where needed, and let the data and evidence speak for itself.
- We need greater focus on the cultural factors that can hamper the retention and promotion of women employees included today.
- Focus on the welfare, wellbeing, and safety of our colleagues must continue to be a priority. I am surrounded by amazing women who go above and beyond every day. These women are at the heart of the NHSBSA and we’re lucky to have them. We should let them know today.
- The global pipeline of capable women has never been stronger, nor has the appetite for change been healthier. Most of the challenges are known ones and reported in many research reports. We need to act on the findings today to attract, retain and create a sustainable future.
As the world looks to its recovery in the post-pandemic world today, we need to consider that the challenges for tomorrow might be different and arguably harder. As we adapt to a new way of working in a post-pandemic world, it is important that there is a well-executed approach to supporting women as they adapt to the reality of different working models and what this could mean for women’s progression. It’s important that vigilance and data can form evidence that can help us continue to identify how changes like these could affect women in the future, and how we can use this.
What would I like to see celebrated on International Women’s Day in the future?
Ensuring women play a full and equal part in rebuilding the economy is incentive enough for me to continue the work of the last century and decade.
Wouldn’t it be brilliant to have been part of ensuring the following IWD statements written today are realised tomorrow:
- Imagine a gender-equal world.
- A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
- A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
- A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Together, please can we help ‘break the bias’. Cross your arms to show solidarity.