IWD2020: Holly Elstob

Author Matthew Gravelle
March 7, 2020

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 Holly Elstob, Head of Global Employment Taxes at GSK. 

#IWD2020  #EachforEqual


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?

It is unfortunate in this day and age that you still can’t get through your career in finance without experiencing some form of gender stereotyping and this has definitely something I have had earlier in my career. This could be as simple as always being asked to grab the coffees or get the birthday cards which subtly suggests that your work and time is less important, or more overt where your ideas are ignored and then repeated by a man in the room who takes the credit. We discussed this within our leadership team (which is quite evenly split) and the men were appalled that this happened. It was a real education for us all to discuss this informally and openly, without a burning agenda. I’m pleased to say that the men on the team specifically asked us all to take accountability for calling each other out should this ever happen at our company. 

What does equality in the workplace look like for you?

It still feels like a pipedream, but I look forward to that day that we no longer need to talk about equality. No one wants to be put into a role just because they fill a quota, we all want the jobs we deserve but unconscious and sometimes conscious bias is still stopping this happening for women. 

I also think that in order to gain equality in the workplace it is epically important to have equality in the home. We are starting to see a shift towards parental leave rather than maternity leave but the stigma of a ‘stay at home Dad’ still exists. 

We have a long way to go but when we’ve reached the point that we don’t need to have a conversation about this is the point we have reached true equality.

What have you or your business implemented to achieve positive changes for an equal workforce?

As well as the corporate wide initiatives, I’m really pleased to be part of the Women in Finance group at my company. This is being led by a member of the finance leadership team. Rather than focusing on traditional gender issues we are focusing on how we can increase confidence within our female workforce. 

We, as a group, identified that in many cases the lack the confidence to even put themselves forward for roles or initiatives can hold back our employees before you even get to the issues around gender bias. It is a well reported that women are less likely to apply for a stretch assignment compared to men. We want to be confident we can do it well form day one rather than taking a risk which could be a great development opportunity. 

This program is in its infancy right now so I look forward to what we will achieve over the coming years.

Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organisation/company they are employed by.