“A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day.
We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.
From challenge comes change, so let's all choose to challenge.”
– #IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge
This year for International Women’s Day, Compass Point Recruitment are looking at the influential and successful Suffolk Business Women who have broken down the stereotypes and stepped up to the challenge of calling out inequality and generally smashing it in business!
In 2021, it really should be second nature in business that we have equality between men and women offering all parties the same opportunities to succeed. As a business we work with some inspiring women who are recognised for their professionalism, expertise and determination to break down those walls of objection and bias!
Our business was founded in 1995 by Rebecca Thurlow, who by her own admission, loathed school and could not wait to get into the work place and be her own boss! She had a vision and from that Compass Point Recruitment was born. Facing her fair share of challenges along the way, with objections from a family with ‘old school’ views on the place of a women in society, Rebecca quickly went on to establish a successful and reputable business – still going strong after two recessions and a global pandemic!
I asked Rebecca why she felt we needed more women in leadership and what her experiences have been like along that way and she said - “We need more women in roles of responsibility as we are genetically different to men! FACT! We all know that a business’s key assets are their staff, staff retention is paramount to a business achieving its work goals and objectives, so in simple terms, in businesses who employ a mixture of male & female employees, they should have an input from both genders if they want a maintain their happy, motivated focused workforce!”.
I approached Celia Briggs, Project Manager for Compton Pryor and asked her what International Women’s Day meant to her and she said “It's an opportunity to be inspired by many creative and talented women and remind ourselves of fantastic world-changing women who have gone before us.” When we look back at the women who made history by changing the status quo and not being afraid to stand up for what they believed in, it is really quite remarkable how so much has changed since then but also the battles women are still facing today!
For me, the most influential woman in history is Florence Nightingale who went against what was traditionally expected of her by becoming a war-hero nurse at a time when women had only just been officially allowed to serve in the army! Going on to become the founder of modern nursing, she really paved the way for our NHS to be as brilliant as it is today!
When speaking to Sue Wilcock, Editor for Norfolk & Suffolk Director, who has featured many amazing women in the magazine, I asked her whether she had ever seen any great examples of women breaking through the gender stereotypes and she said “Yes Karen Hester, COO of Adnams Southwold - who joined the Army at 16 and was the youngest soldier to pass her HGV test at 17. She then left the Army and returned to Southwold as a single parent, joined Adnams as a part-time cleaner and is now Chief Operating Officer!” In 2008 Karen won the title of East of England Business Woman of the Year and in 2013 won the CBI First Women Business of the Year title in recognition of Adnams’ success in supporting women employees to reach their full potential.
When thinking about gender diversity, which by definition means ‘the equitable or fair representation between genders’, I wonder how much businesses are missing out financially by not employing more women and/or having women in their senior leadership teams. The argument really is not just about fairness and ticking that box for HR, it is so much more than that. It really boils down to having an open mind to thinking that women bring different skills, difference in perspective as well as humility and emotional attunement.
I spoke to Tracy Morgan, HR Manager for Robinson Young and asked her what advice she would give to someone wanting to succeed in a male dominated environment and she said “Having experienced working in a very male dominated DIY sector I know the challenges. I would say, walk tall, be professional and confident in your knowledge. Build effective work relationships that create a good working environment and trust”.
To all our females out there, who are working hard to break through those walls of adversity - encourage each other! Remember that you earned your spot! Be confident and inspire, mentor and nurture your peers – they could be waiting to become the next you!
If you are looking to be inspired today here is a list of some of the World’s Most Powerful Women according to Forbes 2020 list.
- Jacinda Ardern - President of New Zealand & youngest female leader!
- Kamala Harris – First female Vice President of the United States
- Queens Elizabeth II – The absolute Boss of England – bossing it since 1952!
- Mackenzie Scott – Author and Ex-Wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos - an example of how behind every successful man is an equally successful woman!)
- Beyoncé – I mean - does she even need an introduction?!
If you’re as interested in who else made the cut as we were, visit: https://www.forbes.com/power-women/#3aa8b4585e25 .