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International Women’s Day – Five steps to equalling the playing field

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International Women’s Day – Five steps to equalling the playing field

​To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, Step5’s Chief Operating Officer, Hannah Paterson, shared why she thinks it is such an important occasion and outlined the actions she is taking to help accelerate gender equality in the workplace.

"These two are the reason days like IWD are important because I want them to feel like anything is possible," said Hannah.

Step5 COO, Hannah Paterson

“For those who know me, you will understand that I am an action and data person. I often find myself asking ‘what is the action?’ and ‘who is going to complete it and when?’. I have tried to change and be more fluid about things, but that is just who I am.

“In 2020, women made up just 28.8% of the Tech/Consulting workforce. And in 2021, it dipped to 26.7%, with the pandemic and caring load taking its toll. Thankfully, this figure is now rising – in 2023 women made up 27.6% of the workforce.

“Roughly speaking, this means in every meeting I am one of four and someone who is well established in her career. Clearly, there is still lots more to be done. So, I have been reflecting on how I can up those odds and make myself one in two. My thoughts are not at the exclusion of men but are aimed at equalling the playing field for all.

“Given this year’s IWD theme is 'Inspire Inclusion’, it has got me questioning what I can do to support inclusion in the workforce. We all have a responsibility to drive inclusion and equality, which is why I am sharing my top five actions for 2024…

  1. Identify areas of imbalance and question why they exist. Is there a valid reason for the imbalance or can you do something to address this?

  2. Ask women what they want. Shocking, I know, but ask women what would enable them to take the job/promotion. Often it can be about providing the right support, but if you don’t ask, you will never know.

  3. Allow everybody the opportunity to speak. In team meetings, ensure everybody has a slot on the agenda, rotate who chairs a meeting, foster a culture of sharing ideas and not putting up with the status quo.

  4. Encourage employee feedback. Even if you can’t do anything about issues raised, acknowledge the feedback and be honest. Listening is a highly underrated skill.

  5. Be open-minded. Different approaches are not bad; it might appear confronting when someone approaches things differently but give it a chance. Progress rarely occurs without change.

“I hope you find these steps useful and can put some of them into action yourself. The road to ending gender bias is a long one but we all have a part to play.”

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