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IWD 2024: Championing gender equality beyond International Women's Day
Thu, 7th Mar 2024

International Women’s Day is an incredibly important day and platform to remind ourselves of how desperately unequal women remain to men globally. When looking at my inbox or social media feed around IWD, one could almost get a glimpse of an alternative reality, where promoting inclusion and gender diversity is front and centre for every business around the world, and real strides are being achieved by companies implementing fair recruitment practices, committing to equal pay and advocating on a global scale. 

The reality is that not much of that talk seems to translate to real change in the other 364 days of the year. I’m not saying this is true for everyone, but it infuriates me that it seems to be the case for most. While some data shows very slow improvement, others indicate we might be moving backwards. Whilst I think IWD is important, I also believe that now, more than ever, it is also a painful reminder of how dire the situation is – and this is not even looking at women in all their intersectionalities. We need to do better at including perspectives from women of all racial, ethical, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. The various ways certain identities come into play in parallel create a unique set of barriers which still aren’t talked about enough.

There must be diversity beyond compliance
Businesses need to work hard on critically examining their recruiting and promotion processes and updating them to be more inclusive and as bias-free as possible. I also believe flexible work arrangements are imperative for accommodating different lifestyles and needs. We must move away from hiring ‘more diverse’ staff into only very junior roles to tick the box. Instead, we must ensure diversity in leadership roles with fair and equal pay and among teams with decision-making power. This is the only way to demonstrate a genuine commitment to changing the status quo.

When working in male-dominated industries, find your allies

Early in my career in tech, I spent a lot of time in rooms where I was the only woman or one of the very few. I often found those spaces lonely and challenging to navigate. Even now, there is a need for more women, especially from underrepresented backgrounds, in tech. If you do get into a situation where you are being discriminated against, it is difficult to ‘just deal with it’. This is definitely the case if you don’t have someone in your corner who really understands and can advocate for you when it happens, rather than having to fight the fight by yourself. Thankfully, I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by some amazing men, as my career progressed, who were (and are) real allies and have both tried – and are still trying – to make a difference.

Women should be championing women at all times
My main advice for women wanting to pursue a career in tech is to try to focus on what they bring to the table and why they are a real asset to your team or business rather than worrying about being a minority. Don’t internalise sexist attitudes directed at you and champion fellow women. We will always come out stronger in the end if we work together rather than giving in to a ‘no space at the top’ narrative.

As many different voices as possible should be included in DEI efforts
I believe the key is embracing more inclusive working practices rather than just doing the bare minimum. Industry stakeholders must accept that the only way to find viable solutions to some of the most pressing challenges society faces is to make sure as many different voices as possible are part of the conversation. This includes creating a company and industry culture that celebrates differences and makes real tangible commitments to pay and support talent of all backgrounds fairly while realising that this is also better for the bottom line.