Disclaimer: Please note that all commentary and opinions provided in this interview are those of the individual and not the organisation/company they are employed by.
What does “choose to challenge” mean to you?
For me, this means being brave and calling out behaviours or actions that are in some way discriminatory and choosing to challenge them – whether that’s with colleagues, friends or family. I know many organisations have worked hard to level the playing field, but whether by way of unconscious biases or company culture, there remain significant gaps in representation at senior level in gender, ethnicity and class. The choice to challenge ingrained behaviour is a difficult one, and it can certainly feel easier to ‘go along’ with the culture and keep your head down. I hope this message inspires women to feel empowered to challenge, ask the difficult/uncomfortable question and ask for more change.
How can female leaders ensure they get a seat at the table?
The simplest way to get a seat at the table is to ask for it! I’ve often been surprised in my career that simply by asking for the opportunity to join a particular meeting, or to be part of a particular team I’ve been welcomed. If you want to join the senior leadership then say so. Even if the answer is that you can’t now, having vocalised that you want to gives a strong message to your boss/team/organisation of your plans for the future. And the second simplest way? That’s for others to invite you to the table. Those who advocate for women (regardless of their own gender) within organisations are invaluable. In my experience, women are far less likely to put themselves forwards for leadership positions and so having advocates who recognise that and extend the invitation is so important.
What impact could Kamala Harris’ appointment to Vice President have on the next generation of female leaders?
I’m a firm believer that it’s hard to be something that you can’t see. Once, I was watching a rugby match with my young daughter when she asked where all the girls were. During a break in play an advert came on for the women’s rugby showing the female players and she ran up to the screen, pointed at one and said “there I am”. If I ever needed reminding of the importance of female role models that was it. I hope there are young girls everywhere pointing at Kamala Harris on the screen somewhere and seeing themselves.
What is one thing women don’t talk about enough?
In my view we don’t talk openly enough about motherhood. For me, being a mum was always a very important part of my life and having time off for maternity leave with my children was important. But I don’t think we talk openly enough about the challenges of balancing a fun, but demanding, career with fun, but demanding, children at home! Lockdown has certainly helped to create more conversation around juggling family and careers for all of us, and I hope this continues.
Click below to read the full edition of IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge: Female Leaders Across The Globe.https://indd.adobe.com/embed/bb2678fd-fafb-4e5f-b57b-bbe97612e7cf?startpage=1&allowFullscreen=true