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On Tuesday 8 March we hosted our first International Women’s Day discussion at Sterling House. It’s a topic that is a passion of mine personally, and I wanted to ensure that we not only celebrated the women in our business and industry but are taking responsibility and are actually taking steps in the right direction driving equality and breaking the bias.
International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements and rally for women's equality. Each year IWD launch a new discussion theme and for 2022 the message is #BreakTheBias.
Championing our women and celebrating their success shouldn’t be a yearly event. We celebrate our people all year round, they’re the heartbeat of our unique and vibrant culture. However, in the construction industry there are only 12% women, and we’re aware that bias, both conscious and unconscious, still happens and this year we wanted to do more to empower our people.
Calling out bias can be tough, never mind challenging when we feel something is wrong. And what about when the bias is completely unconscious? These experiences can make people feel like they can’t reach out for help, which is why we hosted a discussion event. We set two simple goals – to shine a light on various types of gender bias and share our personal experiences to demonstrate how our peers have overcome challenges and for others to learn.
We hosted an intimate open forum discussion, open to all employees and were joined by inspirational leader and managing director of Social Chain, Katy Leeson.
We covered topics including recognising gender bias, how to overcome stereotypes, how to unpick the use of apologetic language that has slipped into our narrative, plus what blockers we feel are in the way for women seeing themselves in leadership roles, and how we can give back to unlock fears and imposter syndrome.
Katy said “International Women’s Day is about not only celebrating women and their achievements, but also understanding your own and weaknesses. I am caring by nature which allows me to be empathetic towards my team, understanding their key drivers and then building the right people around us to play to each other’s strengths. The power is in knowing you don’t need to be an expert at everything, especially as a leader, and I am transparent about that which I hope demonstrates to the younger generations, especially women, that it shouldn’t be a blocker.”
This is just the beginning, we were inspired by the men and women who joined us, who shared their ideas and passions, and we’re looking forward to making this a part of our future learning, including more interactive sessions with inspiring people from our industry, mentoring sessions and of course, celebrating our people.
Caitlin Goble, Project Designer
“To be able to have an open conversation amongst my colleagues was so valuable, I would love to have more of them! I found the discussions enlightening and reassuring to hear other people's perspectives. It was so nice to hear from Katy. She's incredible and it made me feel empowered being able to look up to her”.
Mary Ali, Executive Assistant
“I found it insightful and motivational. Hearing Katy's story, and hearing that you don't have to know everything to become a Managing Director, or any leadership role for that matter, made me want to grow and develop even further than I currently am. I didn't think I could get past a role like mine and thought I would just sit at this level for the rest of my career, but now I can see much further. I want to ask questions, learn more, and further my career and development.”