Julian Stone 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 Sarah Ingwersen, Partner.
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?
I had a bemusing experience of gender stereotyping about five years ago. All partners in London hosted New Starter Drinks for anyone who had joined in the past month. At this stage I was the only female partner and I was talking to a new joiner. He asked me where I was before I joined Taylor Root and I told him. Then he asked when did I join? I told him I joined ten years ago. He was really confused and couldn't work out why, if I joined so long ago, I was at the new starter drinks, hosted by the partners. I probably should have spelled it out but I didn't and eventually the penny dropped.
What does equality in the workplace look like for you?
Equality is about having access to the opportunities that you desire, regardless of your gender (race, religion, sexual orientation or disability). Not every female wants to be a partner, a General Counsel, CEO or President. But those who do should have exactly the same opportunities as our male counterparts. And it starts right at the beginning with how we educate and treat our children so they are ingrained with the confidence to push themselves forward, irrespective of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or whether they have a disability. I am very conscious of not referring to my young daughter as 'bossy' as that has such a negative connotation that carries through to adulthood. How many females reading this were referred to as 'bossy' when you were younger, and how has that impacted your confidence as a professional? If we are able to positively support young girls with their confidence and promote involvement in things like STEM courses this will hopefully, eventually, flow through to the workforce and women will be given more of a platform for pushing for the career progression they desire.
What have you or your business implemented to achieve positive changes for an equal workforce?
The SR Group has embraced a number of initiatives to create an equal and inclusive workplace. Of particular note has been introducing flexible and smart working for all employees, not just parents; so you can come in later for whatever reason, and work back a little later, or you can come in early and leave earlier. This has really helped to close the physical gap between parents and non-parents as I think a part of guilt that working parents feel is when they have to leave early for childcare reasons, leaving their non-parenting colleagues in the office. We now have a culture where you can come in later or leave early regardless of your personal situation (and providing you make up the hours at either end of the day - this is not designed to work less!). I know that this certainly has helped parents feel less guilty and less obvious about leaving early.
Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organisation/company they are employed by.