International Women's Day 2020 - Gemma Allen

IWD2020: Gemma Allen

Hamish Richmond International Women's Day

We proud to be supporting International Women's Day 2020. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we all know that gender parity within the workplace has improved over the past decades, we all also know that there is still a long way to go.

We interviewed our very own Gemma Allen, Director, Ireland. 

#IWD2020  #EachforEqual


The theme for IWD2020 is #EachforEqual. Have you experienced gender stereotypes/gender bias in a professional context? If so, how have you been able to challenge this?

Not personally, but I've worked in male orientated/ dominated firms for much of my professional career.

What does equality in the workplace look like for you?

Visually I suppose it looks imperfect, colourful, old and young. It feels supportive, challenging and honest.

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? 

I'm sure they do, but things are definitely more diverse now than even 5-10 years ago. Certainly I think from a gender perspective there has been a focus in recent years on quotas and getting gender balances right. We still see in most large companies a tapering off of female management at a senior level. The data shows this is a childcare issue. But on the positive side there has definitely been a shift in perceptions, even in how women dress in the workplace, it is starting to be OK to be feminine!

How do you think parental leave should be approached in 2020?

Certainly I think the increases we see in Ireland are a positive, however there are issues for employers as is the case with any sort of extended leave. 

Do you feel social media has influenced a positive shift change for female leadership?

Yes absolutely

If yes, has there been any particular stories that have resonated with you?

Certainly Sheryl Sandberg was huge. I enjoy Hilary Clinton's feed, Serena Williams' and Arianna Huffington are also ones that resonate for me.

What have you or your business implemented to achieve positive changes for an equal workforce?

I'm not sure complete equality is achievable anywhere, beyond gender there are so many issues to contend with around disability, religion etc. It's important the conversation isn't just around parenting, and everyone has similar benefits around leave, flexibility etc. within reason. But paternity leave needs to be addressed!

Is there a business that you admire for their positive approach to an equal workforce? If so, who and why?

There are quite a few who seem truly committed to investing. I think Netflix and Patti McCord in her time there was very brave, eliminating leave altogether whilst driving a culture of responsibility and commitment for everyone

Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organisation/company they are employed by.