IWD2020: Eleanor Christie
We proud to be supporting International Women’s Day 2020. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we all know that gender parity within the workplace has improved over the past decades, we all also know that there is still a long way to go.
We interviewed Eleanor Christie, Group Head of Tax at Nando’s.
The theme for IWD2020 is #EachforEqual. Have you experienced gender stereotypes/gender bias in a professional context? If so, how have you been able to challenge this?
I think I am a challenge to gender stereotypes as my husband and I don’t conform to the traditional stereotypes of division of domestic roles. We have three children, I have a busy full time job that involves international travel and a charity board role. I am really fortunate that my husband looks after our children full time so that I can focus on my career which helps our family achieve all of our goals. I hope that our example helps others that want to follow a similar route and that we inspire our children to see a future without gender biases defining their path.
How do you think parental leave should be approached in 2020?
My husband took the majority of the parental leave for our children. This made much better sense for us economically. I was very fortunate that my employer at the time supported me in this by allowing me to work at home for 3 months so that I could continue to run the team I was so passionate about and breastfeed my baby until he was old enough to be left with my husband for most of the day. Equally I have had women in my team that took a year out and enjoyed the time with their new baby and I have supported them in their return to work with flexible working and keep in touch days.
To answer the question I think that parental leave can work really well for the employee and the employer and it might be the mum or dad taking the leave. Employees should think about what will work best for them and their family. Sometimes if you want something outside the normal policies it helps if you can demonstrate how this also delivers business success. Employers should discuss this with their employees with an open mind to achieving something really constructive, this is a great opportunity to truly demonstrate how you engage and support employees.
Do you feel social media has influenced a positive shift change for female leadership?
Realistically no, I still feel that there is a significant amount of gender assumptions in social media. I’m often frustrated by parenting posts directed to mums or ladies thereby putting the responsibility for children solely on women, this is a damaging bias for both men and women.
That said it is uplifting to see increasing diversity in leadership roles whether this comes from gender diversity, or other types of diversity (for example men in leadership roles may be the primary carer for a child or elderly relative).
If yes, has there been any particular stories that have resonated with you?
The Lean In movement led by Sheryl Sandberg (Chief Operating Officer of Facebook) inspired me when I was younger. I realised I had held back on my career in the early years before I was even married because I knew I wanted to have children at some unspecified point in the future. After reading the book I realised I should grab my opportunities and not keep pausing my career, it made me much happier.
Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organisation/company they are employed by.