International Women’s Day is one of the most important days in the calendar for me. It is a moment to reflect, both on the huge accomplishments women have made in all fields, but also to consider how much more there is still to be done.
My own mother was a carer nurse and listening to her describe the options open to her, I don’t doubt the limits on her progression being constrained despite being as qualified as her male peers. My career progression has been far less constrained and I have benefited from legislation fought for by my mother’s generation. Nonetheless, having chosen to spend most of my professional life in typically male-dominated sectors, it has required determination and resilience. So, what will constrain the career opportunities for my 16-year-old daughter? I truly believe she will be limited by nothing more than her own dreams. Of course, that progress is not true for all women in all parts of the globe, or from all social backgrounds, which is why International Women’s Day is such an important day for all of us to celebrate, regardless of gender, and to commit to the actions required to make a difference in the future.
‘Break the Bias’ – the theme in 2022 – resonates deeply for me. I have always had a career plan, one that I have written down and revisited frequently. I have allowed myself to deviate from it when I discovered an opportunity that has strongly appealed to me, but the plan gets updated and gives me focus. Along the way I have, of course, encountered detractors and setbacks, and my younger self would soul search earnestly for an answer. Coming to understand bias (my own as well as that of others’) changed the narrative and gave me the courage and resilience to chase the career I really wanted. I actively encourage debate, open and frank conversations, both at home and at work, to explore our biases and how we overcome them.
At Bidvest Noonan, I am delighted to have joined a leadership team that is wonderfully diverse in both its makeup and in thought. In fact, it is one of the most important reasons I joined and I feel privileged to play my part in it. This year, I will be taking time to reflect that one day it won’t be a privilege, it will be the norm.