Shining a light
I am 44. I have sat, in total, on four boards in my volunteering life (including the largest primary school in Bristol, an international development agency and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) where I served as President in 2015) and more than a dozen professionally. I currently sit on the Health and Safety Executive board, as a non-executive director appointed by the secretary of state for five years, as well as the CIPR.
I have been working for more than two decades, across a variety of sectors, organisations and companies. I am an optimist. Always glass half full in my world.
I have been so fortunate over the last few weeks to judge a round of Debating Matters, speak at the Fawcett Society Conference, give a lecture to a professional CPD course, an undergraduate course, run the business, win some new clients and talk to a few bright sparks, my amazing mentees.
In all of these experiences the one thing that has loomed large is how far off we are from achieving equality; and how the language used in professional circles is still in need of serious attention.
I have had my own fair share of ‘interesting experiences’ but I have listened to stories that tempted my blow dry to lift and my curls to come back.
- Young women asked why they’re at the meeting, aren’t there dishes to be done?
- Organisations thinking it’s going to be ok to explain away a gender pay gap because women want part time work and don’t want to train for five years.
- Women being told that being pregnant isn’t really going to work for their current job, so perhaps they could look elsewhere? (this is illegal, but it does still happen)
- Young people arguing that freezing eggs is great for young women as a lifestyle choice (not a medical one) as it means they won’t ruin their career by becoming mothers (see previous blog). I know these might not be their own views, but it was arresting to hear the arguments, none the less.
- And being told myself that CPD for a particular sector includes ‘pretty much anything, but not watching porn’ – at a professional meeting.
I know how it is to feel that there are no choices. I know many women (and some men) who don’t have a choice – but that’s not my point today (that’s another blog). My point is, stereotypes are alive and well and I believe women deserve to be given a choice, offered support, shown opportunities and who knows what might happen.
OH! That’s it. If women are truly supported, anything might happen.
Today – something amazing is happening. In the North East of England my brilliant, bright, professional, dedicated colleague, someone I have supported as a mentee for more than a year now is launching Filament PR. It will be I hope, a light bulb moment for many businesses, but also a beacon of light for any woman who thinks she can’t. You can. Anne -Marie Lacey has.
Get support, be prepared to work hard, ask for help; but mainly be true to yourself and believe that if anyone can – you should.