Article by Global Head of Marketing, Jenny Wood
I started writing this with a list of facts and topics about International Women’s Day. The history starting in 1911, the reminder to fight for gender-neutral language, the struggle for women in the workplace, unconscious bias, and keeping female talent in middle management and beyond.
I realized I was layering the many challenges and problems we have. I felt a slump of the shoulders, as piece after piece weighed me down. This wasn’t what I intended.
I wanted to fill my space with positivity. The world needs that, and so do women in the workplace. It’s important for us all to continue to build safe environments that are free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. It is important to celebrate differences.
So that’s my goal. To celebrate. Because by celebrating, we are making visible the great and the positive steps, and then we can look to take further action.
“It is important to honour the countless women who have paved the path to progress” Alexander Mudavanhu – Salt South Africa
Energizing the rise in Entrepreneurs
More women are starting new businesses. With 145,200 all-female-led incorporations in 2021, up from 56,200 in 2018 in the UK. Something we can certainly celebrate as a step in the right direction.
Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest, recently released the Alison Rose review of female entrepreneurship report, looking at access to funding for female-run businesses, caring responsibilities and how to enable entrepreneurship. The report urges industry participants to bring fresh thinking to deliver real change.
“Recent trends since the publication of the initial Rose Review are encouraging. Female founders are now making up a larger proportion of new company incorporations than ever before, with proportionate growth in this area now outstripping male counterparts. We have also seen a c.17% increase in Female Total early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) since 2018. Everything we are doing as a collective is designed to accelerate that change.” Rose Review
Career gap celebration
Camilla Han-He, Product at LinkedIn posted a new feature on LinkedIn on the 1st of March on how a positive shift in perspective and their reports made them develop career breaks on LinkedIn Profiles. This update has been celebrated in my own feed, creating open conversations on skills and competencies outside of the workplace. It’s a great step to remove that un-needed stigma around career gaps.
“By adding a career break to your Profile, you can highlight how these life experiences can apply to prospective jobs. In many cases, it’s your off-your-resume experience that truly gets to the heart of your passions, gifts and strengths.”
Inspiring the next generation in STEM
There have been positive and celebratory steps in supporting our next generation of young women and young non-binary people into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths careers. Co-founder of Stemettes Anne-Marie started the company after hearing a keynote in 2012. Celebrating women in computing. It made her reflect on her own experiences and saw the real issue with women and non-binary people in STEM.
“All young women & non-binary people can make informed decisions about careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM), so that women and non-binary people can be proportionally represented in the field.”
The company is building initiatives with businesses to introduce the next generation to a range of careers. For example, they recently worked on an initiative with H&M, introducing girls, young women and non-binary people between the ages of 12-25 to some of H&M’s handpicked professionals from a range of different fields including artificial intelligence, customer-centric technology, assortment and product development.
Building gender-balanced boards and leadership
“Companies that started to address the shortfall of women in Leadership many years ago, continue to lead the way” FTSE Women Leaders Review report 2022
The FTSE Women Leaders review provides some clear recommendations as well as driving action and improving gender balance in senior leadership. While the data report is focused on the UK economy, the recommendations can be inspiring for any business as the work continues to ensure the opportunities are available and a balance is met. The report sets up their aspirational goals and actions. Setting expectations for gender-balance leadership by the end of 2025. Here are three that can be actioned by any business:
Increased Target Aiming for Gender Balance
“Companies should aim to maintain the representation of both men and of women at, or above a minimum 40% threshold.”
Women in the Most Senior Board and Leadership Roles
“All companies should increase their efforts to understand and remove bias from the selection process on Board and Leadership appointments”
Locking in Progress
“Look to the underrepresented gender when considering additional appointments.”
Breaking the Bias
Since 1911 International Women’s Day has led a narrative to celebrate the achievements of women around the world. It also serves as a reminder and a plea to continue the fight to a gender-neutral world, to build exclusivity and diversity. To celebrate difference and build safe environments free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. Salt has been on a mission to support equality in the workplace, and creating inclusive workforces is one of the key steps that will make a major difference.
Before the pandemic, our report on women in the workplace showed that there was still work to be done. In our 2020 women in the workplace report, only 62% of women felt comfortable stating their value to their employer, compared to 82% of men.
Making the workplace an equal and inclusive environment takes considered steps. While two years have passed so much is still relevant. This report notes how the ‘leaky pipeline’ is an effect where women in senior positions are less likely to be seen. This has become an even more critical statistic in our hybrid working world. Despite a more equal hiring rate, women are lost through the voluntary pipeline 2/3 times faster than men once they reach middle management. Leadership needs to focus on gender-inclusive leadership.
Read our 2020 report here: Women in the Workplace
Discover more interviews and celebrations with our Women in Tech series.