“The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving.”
The past year has proved beyond any doubt that the path to inclusion and gender equality is far from smooth.
On the one hand, we have seen much to celebrate - the inauguration of Kamala Harris as the first female, first black and first Asian-American US vice president; the Hampton Alexander Review revealing that the number of women on FTSE 350 boards has risen from 682 to 1026 in 5 years; the appointment of Jane Fraser as the new CEO of Citigroup, the first woman to lead a large Wall Street Bank.
On the other hand, the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to put progress towards gender equality back 25 years. Although it has also highlighted just how powerful diversity in leadership can be when responding to challenge - perhaps no more in evidence than in the pandemic response in countries led by women.
Whatever our experience of the pandemic, it has certainly given us cause to re-consider many aspects of our lives, forcing us to find new ways of getting things done – both as individuals and in our roles in society as a whole.
If there were ever an opportunity to challenge the status quo and effect change it is now.
Celebrating International Women’s Day March 8 2021
It seems entirely fitting that the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. I am sure that many organisations in finance and beyond will have activities planned to mark IWD this year, and will have found innovative ways to celebrate.
In my ‘day job’ at The Wisdom Council, we will be marking IWD by focusing on female economic empowerment. Kate Thornton, TV journalist, is hosting a multi-generational group of women on Instagram and asking them why they are happy to talk about their physical and mental wellbeing, but not their financial health.
Challenging the stigma that women often associate with talking about their finances, which is so fundamental to achieving gender equality, is for me an integral part of what IWD stands for - and I know many women who work in finance feel just as passionately about this subject as I do.
In closing, I wish everyone success with their own IWD activities. Let’s hope that by this time next year, our collective efforts will mean we have more to celebrate.
The IWD campaign summed it up perfectly:
“We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality, we can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.”