Lem-uhn celebrates International Women’s Day
Updated: Oct 10, 2022
International Women’s Day provides an opportunity for society to reflect on the progress we’ve made and the progress we still have to make. A year ago, I hadn’t thought the idea of starting a business was a possibility. Growing up, and throughout my career, I had always seen older men in leadership positions, which led to mistakenly thinking that it wasn’t something that I could pursue or achieve. Preconceptions of how genders should behave and what they can achieve also remain, which leads to unconscious biases towards male leaders.
The statistics support this with only eight of the UK’s top 100 companies currently headed by women, and all of them are white women. Furthermore, for every £1 of investment from VCs, only 1p goes to female founders.
Raising the future generation
Studies have shown that growing up, women are often taught different gendered roles which have a knock-on effect in our adult life. Girls are traditionally taught that their actions should please and make others happy, while boys tend to be taught they can ask for more of what makes them happy. This can lead to a lack of confidence, especially in the workplace.
In the office, studies have shown this translates to men asking for promotions and pay rises, while women wait to be rewarded for their hard work, and sadly this often means they can be left behind. We must teach and show all young people their worth and the importance of focusing on their happiness.
Fixing a broken mindset
As women, we must work to break down the mindset which is inbuilt into us as young girls. Learning to have more confidence in your abilities, and to prioritise your ambitions, happiness and wellbeing are key. Confidence doesn't come naturally to everyone but acting confidently at first can, in turn, lead to becoming more confident.
Positivity is intensively linked to self-confidence, and building a positive mindset can help to grow your confidence in your abilities and approach each day with a glass half full perspective. Unfortunately, not all of us are born with a naturally sunny disposition, but there are easy strategies that you can implement into your daily life to make you more positive.
Changing a polluted societal notion
Women who assert themselves, pursue their ambitions and promote their interests are often seen as pushy and can be excluded. This unconscious behaviour can be worse for ethnic minorities, and similarly those with different sexual or gender orientations. Women of colour in particular are often pigeonholed as ‘aggressive’ and ‘hostile’. As a society, we must work to break down these negative biases. There is a need to reconsider your preconceived notions about a person, and ask yourself - would you think this if the person was a man, a different race, sexuality or ability?
Business leaders and companies must check their unconscious biases to support all people to have the same access and opportunities. Diversity and inclusion have become a buzzword, but companies need to do more to implement them into the heart of their company. One way to do this is by having a diverse team that can ensure that their real-life experiences are considered. However, it’s not always easy to have a diverse team while we still need to encourage more diverse candidates to join career paths that are typically ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’. The PR industry is weighted towards women, especially for junior positions, with more men in senior roles. We have witnessed this during our hiring process, with the majority of candidates female. Due to this we currently have an all-female team. While we strive to have a more diverse team in the future, we ensure we are seeking out advice and considerations from men to ensure we are aiming to be a fair and considerate company.
‘Though she be but little she is fierce’
During my life, I have seen slow progress in the changing of perceptions and norms for genders. Gradually as a society, we are realising that your gender doesn’t define you. We still have perceptions about what are ‘female’ and ‘male’ traits, however, we are gradually realising that everyone is unique and has different characteristics irrespective of their gender. To achieve fairer opportunities for all, we need to challenge our unconscious biases and challenge what we think a leader should look like.
We also need to raise the future generation to ensure they all realise they have the same capabilities and fill them with confidence. My first niece recently arrived and the first gift I got for her was a baby grow with a Shakespeare quote ‘Though she be but little she is fierce’. Like me, I hope those surrounding the future generation can fill them with self-confidence, strength and a positive mindset.