As I wrote this blog yesterday, it was International Women’s Day 2020 with the theme Each for Equal.
In 2020 it is somewhat shocking that it is necessary that this should be the theme but in many ways it is more important than ever. It feels often like progress towards equality has slowed and many businesses and organisations are playing lip service.
The principles of Each for Equal are simple; an equal world is an enabled world and on the basis that we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions then we can decide whether we are going to challenge stereotypes, fight bias and celebrate women’s achievements or not. We can all do our bit to create a gender equal world.
However, we must all do something. It is not enough to say – I am lucky I work in a gender equal business, my family treat the women in our family equally, my children are respected. We need to look around us and call out the discrimination we see and not ignore the gender bias and inequality we see.
The fundamental point is that equality is essential for economies and communities to thrive and those of us who are fortunate to work in supportive environments and to live in gender equal families need to stand up for those who are not so fortunate.
The last few days we have seen a number of events celebrating International Women’s Day 2020 and I have been lucky to participate in some of these. On Thursday evening I attended a dinner at Teesside University with the theme ‘Enough is Enough’ where feedback was provided on a special day that had been held at the university for school girls in our area to inspire them and give them confidence to have ambition and to strive to be the best they can, and to not accept outdated and unacceptable stereotypes. After an inspiring speech from Irene Dorner former president, CEO and Managing Director of HSBC North America Holdings and HSBC USA, we were challenged to make pledges to help the young girls and women of our area.
On Friday morning, in conjunction with Barclays Bank, Jacksons held its own IWD event and we heard from four local women who were succeeding in business in this area. They told their journey and their tips for success. I guess if you wanted to find a common thread in all the stories it was that all four speakers had the tenacity not to give up when they met hurdles along the way, but also they had been encouraged and supported.
At Jacksons we were very proud to be awarded Company of the Year at the Tees Business Awards in 2019. I am particularly proud of this achievement because it enables us to showcase the strength of the female leaders in our business and the attributes of the company which has enabled them to fly, but also that it is something that the young women in our business can be proud of and aspire to. We have young apprentices who are telling us the career path they want to follow through the company and there is nothing better than hearing once of these young women tell you their ambitions, and that with hard work and determination that they can see a path to their dream career.
We need to provide opportunities for so many more young people who for many different reasons have not been encouraged to dream big or to have ambition.
It is so important that Each for Equal is so much more than a series of events in March 2020 but a campaign.
While you are wondering, as I hope you are – what can I do, what should I do – let me tell you about an opportunity! At the dinner mentioned above on Thursday evening, Professor Jane Turner launched a campaign to crowd fund the costs of producing a coffee table book to tell the stories of 100 inspiring North East women which will be distributed to over 1000 senior schools in the Northern Powerhouse region, and will be supported by an interactive website and marketing campaign. Think about the impact of a teenager looking at such a book and realising what women from her home town or locality have done. You can support this campaign by sharing the details and if you can by supporting it financially. There are only just over 50 days to raise £75,000. You will find details of the campaign on www.crowdfunder.co.uk – Power of Women or from this link https://lnkd.in/d5r-MhK. Let’s make this happen.
Jane Armitage, Managing Partner