My home town of Glasgow has put a smile on my face this International Women’s Day, by unveiling a long-awaited statue of Mary Barbour. Financed by donations, the statue commemorates the woman who, among other achievements, led the 1915 Rent Strikes and was one of the first women elected to Glasgow City Council.
On her own though, Mary is unlikely to put much of a dent in the overwhelming gender imbalance of those celebrated in public spaces. And these public spheres reflect what we so often know to be true in our own lives and workplaces: women are, on the whole, more likely to sit back and wait for their work to be recognised and, as a result, tend to be less celebrated than men of similar capability.
There is much work still to be done to achieve true equality in the UK workplace. The recruitment of more women into senior positions, the dismantling of gender-based assumptions on specific industries (childcare versus engineering, for example) and the implementation of intersectional solutions to correct imbalances in class, colour, sexuality and physical ability are just some of the steps required.
But on a more immediate level, each and every one of us can help raise the profile of women in our workplaces. By creating a habit of amplification in meetings, we can ensure women’s contributions are both heard and correctly credited. By making sure to select representative spokespeople, comms teams can help convey authority through a more diverse group of leaders.
And perhaps most powerfully, when someone inspires us – we can tell them so. One of the biggest compliments I’ve ever been paid in my career was when, a few weeks ago, a previous colleague asked if I would mentor her through some career planning. She told me she asked me because of the impression I’d made on her when we worked together, which came as a complete surprise to me.
Similarly, when I tweeted praise for an entrepreneur I’m inspired by, numerous people chimed in to agree, sending some spontaneous positivity the way of Rachel Miller, the brains behind All Things IC.
As a solopreneur, I have no meetings today with anyone I can amplify, nor am I recruiting a panel or spokesperson. But in celebration of International Women’s Day, here are a few women who’ve inspired me along the way:
- My one and only sister, Rosaleen Kelly, for her absolute dedication, for setting up an informal career club helping women to support other women, and for planning some of the most engaging and comprehensive internal comms events I’ve ever heard of, who inspires me to focus on doing what works, and doing it well.
- Arti Poddar, for her boundless energy and entrepreneurial spirit, who inspires me to work harder and think bigger.
- Emma Gilmartin, for leading the way in digital content & social media for the Higher Education sector, who inspires me to prioritise audience engagement.
- Elaine Hamilton, the first woman I thought of as a professional role model, who inspires me to be mindful of the impression I make.
- Karen Stellard, for having the bravery to re-train and strike out on a completely new career path, who inspires me to follow my own creative and professional dreams.
- Tracey Irving, the best line manager I’ve ever worked for, who inspires me to stay focused on results.
- Charlie McAdam, a generous and invaluable font of knowledge, who inspires me to keep perspective with her oft-stolen phrase “nobody died, and nobody’s pregnant!”
So happy International Women’s Day. Let’s keep pushing for progress and, in the meantime, let’s keep lifting each other up along the way.