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 Jacqueline Lawson, Head of Indirect Tax, Europe and APAC from Nuveen.
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?
This is a great question and I will try to answer as honestly and objectively as possible.
Looking back on my career, the first time I became aware of gender bias was returning to work after a relatively short period of maternity leave. I was juggling a demanding job in Practice and an equally demanding job as a new mum. My life had changed significantly but I was still the same woman with the same level of ability, determination and ambition. Feeling sleep deprived and dealing with feelings of guilt about returning to work had a real knock on effect to my confidence. Some colleagues at that time made incorrect assumptions that I was no longer interested in career progression and this just compounded matters. At the time I was not equipped to deal with the situation effectively and did not have the confidence to put myself forward or to speak out. My own experience was over 10 years ago and whilst it is good to see some positive changes now introduced in the workplace, such as Keeping in Touch days, I still feel more can be done to support women and employers during this time. Far too many women step back after becoming a mum or leave the workplace entirely and we need to understand better why this keeps happening. We need to support, advance and retain women and create opportunities to support gender equality. With the benefit of hindsight my advice now to female friends and colleagues is to keep communication lines open with your employer, don’t lose sight of the fact you are still a very capable and talented individual and never apologise for being a working mum. A few kind words also go a very long way.
What does equality in the workplace look like for you?
A workplace where all employees have equal opportunities, are valued and equally recognised for their contribution and abilities regardless of gender, appearance, race, sexuality, etc.
How do you think parental leave should be approached in 2020?
Flexibility for both the employee and the employer is key in my view. Parental leave is a personal choice and what works for one person and one organisation does not necessarily work for everyone. In the interests of fairness and harmony I also believe employers need to offer flexibility for all employees not just to those with children.
Do you feel social media has influenced a positive shift change for female leadership?
I have mixed views on social media and whether it is a positive shift for female leadership. Used well and with care it can be a brilliant and effective tool to raise profiles, build strong and effective networks and for keeping abreast of developments and events in the business world. However, I do have concerns about instances of misogyny and bullying on social media.
What have you or your business implemented to achieve positive changes for an equal workforce?
Nuveen believe that there are three main ways we can empower women; early training, access to role models and sponsorship. We continue to sponsor the Future Female Leaders programme with Estates Gazette as this gives an opportunity to lead the dialogue on gender diversity in a practical way, facilitating networking and developing opportunities for professional woman in the real estate industry. We have strong links with groups including Biznow Women Leading Real Estate and sponsorship of Women Talk Real Estate.
Nuveen have an employee resource group called LEAD which drives gender diversity and equality. I am a committee member and we meet regularly as a group. We have several live initiatives we are driving forward including very exciting plans to launch a new work experience programme for 15-year-old girls. We also work closely with external groups including 100 Women in Finance and regularly hold workshops and innovative training events.
I am also involved in an initiative with British Land called 201 Community to establish a networking community for women who work in the Broadgate Estate in London. I am a strong believer in the importance of providing women with access to networking opportunities so being involved with 201 Community has been a wonderful experience.
Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organisation/company they are employed by.