Sarah Ingwersen Career Advice, International Women's Day
What does equality in the workplace look like for you?
For me, equality in the workplace isn't just a women's issue. Ethnicity, sexuality, disability and age – to name just a few - are all potential barriers to equal opportunity, including entry into the workplace and career progression.
Businesses that are serious about achieving an equal, inclusive and diverse workplace need to address these issues in meaningful ways. Introducing policies is part of this, of course, but gathering data and setting measurable and stretching targets on diversity are key too, as is ensuring that you have a diverse range of senior role models at management and Board level.
At Centaur Media, we want employees from all parts of our business to have a say in how we as tackle the issue of equality, and we have a working group called DICE (‘Diversity, Inclusion, Engagement, and Culture’) whose mandate includes developing company-wide initiatives for a more inclusive workplace.
If you mentor professionals at the early stages of their careers, do they/have they encountered different equality issues than you experienced at the same stage in your career? What changes have you seen?
The way we work has changed dramatically since I began my career as a lawyer at a US corporate firm. In keeping with most City law firms at the time, there were very few fee-earners who worked flexibly, other than a few in senior roles.
Thanks to developments in technology, an increasingly millennial workforce, and a move away from long-term property leases, many law firms and businesses have introduced agile and/or flexible working for their employees. That can only be a good thing for advancing equality in the workplace, particularly, but not exclusively, gender equality.
Our business, Centaur Media, has recently moved from a more traditional office space to WeWork's flagship European co-working space in Waterloo. We believe that offering our employees more flexibility (working from home, alternative start times, etc) in a truly modern and innovative working environment enables us to secure the best people from the widest and most diverse pool of talent, thereby giving us a competitive edge.
What have you or your business implemented to achieve positive changes for an equal workforce?
All of the brands I work with at Centaur Media, including The Lawyer, Marketing Week, Design Week, Creative Review and Econsultancy are regarded as thought leaders by their audiences. They do an incredible job at driving positive change in the sectors they represent through both the editorial pieces they publish and the research they undertake.
Within the legal industry, The Lawyer has been a longstanding advocate of change, ensuring issues like the gender paygap and ethnic minority representation get the attention they deserve. Last year The Lawyer ran a feature on gender at the employment Bar which, as a testament to its significance, was cited by the Employment Lawyers Association in its recent call for chambers to report instructions. More recently, the magazine highlighted the scale of the diversity problem in the magic circle, revealing that just 9 per cent of London partners identified as BAME. The Lawyer’s annual features, such as the hugely popular 'My Pride Story' series during Pride Week, and its 'Black History Month' series, are further evidence of the work they do to advance diversity and inclusion in the legal sector.