A piece from our CEO, Claire Edmunds on International Women’s Day…
I heard an interesting interview relating to International Women’s Day this morning, talking about how important it is for all professionals, no matter their gender, to embrace and access typically female characteristics such as empathy and collaboration alongside more masculine ones such as direction and discipline. There is no surprise that today it is being widely reported that organisations which have a good gender balance perform best, but only considering gender is one-dimensional. I have worked with women whose strengths have been their discipline and direct communication style, as well as working with men whose strengths have been their empathy and ability to listen and consult. This interview highlighted the importance of flexibility in style and the ability to be human, no matter what your gender.
I admire those generations of women who have fought to promote fairness and equality for women, and across the globe this fight continues. Despite working in a fairly male-dominated sector, Clarify is a gender balanced organisation, however, I am often the only women in the room in business situations, with clients who are sales leaders or within a business owners peer group. In these circumstances I don’t allow myself to feel different because I am a woman – on the contrary I am very grateful to all those women who fought so hard, because I think that right now is a brilliant time to be a woman in business. I also think that the decline of the “locker room culture” is enabling the rise of men who were never comfortable in those extreme masculine environments and to allow their “female” characteristics to be seen, celebrated and valued as strengths.
For me International Women’s day is an opportunity to celebrate the typical female characteristics which are so important in any business environment and, irrespective of gender, to recognise these as strengths. A benefit that has resulted from the pandemic is that it has accelerated the ability for business leaders to challenge long held beliefs, embrace flexible and hybrid working and to give greater consideration to the emotional health of their employees. I hope it will encourage many to value leadership styles which are infinitely more human.
Perhaps International Women’s Day really is for everyone. It’s interesting to consider what role this day could have in our society, our business and our thinking.