As a young person in business it is important to have role models and mentors to guide you through the first steps of your career; to highlight the importance of certain decisions you make, and to champion your cause when opportunities arise for recognition and for advancement.
This does not actually change as you get older, unless you reach the lofty status of someone like the President of the United States, or Madonna.
This week saw the 100th anniversary of suffragette Emily Davison’s death, sparking lively debate surrounding contemporary feminist activity. Some people genuinely consider the battle for equality to be over, often citing the suffragette movement as having gained voting rights for women and thus negating the need for explosive demonstrations and public outcry.
I am not sure I agree that we have arrived at total equality of the sexes (in fact I would urge you to look at the distressing statistics surrounding domestic abuse, the pay gap, childcare, etc), but I do believe that women’s causes are gaining momentum as we progress and in more subversive ways.
The influence of women in the labour market is hot topic for Women Work UK & Ireland, and so I was thrilled to learn that our very own Margot Slattery (Sodexo Ireland’s Managing Director and former Group Chair of our networking group) was on the panel at the Gender Equality Conference ‘Women’s Economic Engagement and the Europe 2020 Agenda‘, which was hosted at Dublin Castle in April this year.
A recent article in a tabloid newspaper took on the task of addressing sexual harassment in the workplace, identifying a young woman who had experienced it and revealing that she is now unable to go into work as a result of the bullying from other women and unwanted attention from male colleagues.
Within the Women Work Annual Conference Guide, there was an allocated space for writing down the contact details of the people we met during the day – actively encouraging us to network.
It was a fantastic platform from which to introduce yourself to strangers as it was openly acknowledged that we should all be doing it. No fear of saying the wrong thing or worrying people will think you are weird; or worse, rejecting you.
But not all events that we attend are conducted with such warmth and it can be a terrifying prospect to reach out to strangers in a totally new environment.
This month at the annual Women Work Conference, we took part in a very insightful workshop on assertiveness.
Being assertive can often be confused with being aggressive no matter who you are, but something that was said during our workshop really struck a chord with me. It was suggested that more often than not, it is women who get accused of being aggressive when really, they are simply being assertive.
“She changed us all. We went from being a people who saw ourselves as eternally on the downward slide to a nation that was proud to be British again. On the world stage too, she made Britain count once more. She was a startling presence who brought a strong and controversial style to our diplomacy after years of Foreign Office blandness.”
– Charles Powell, Key Foreign Policy Advisor to Margaret Thatcher (1983 – 1990)
Margaret Thatcher is a tricky subject to write about, as is any point or person in history, because it can never be reduced to a singular statement of opinion. Was she good or bad; a feminist icon or the antichrist? Everyone has a different view. Continue reading →