Profile picture for user Cognito
Posted By

Each year, International Women’s Day sees women from across the world come together to celebrate one another, raise awareness of gender issues, rally for accelerated gender parity, and fundraise for female-focused charities.

The theme of 2022’s International Women’s Day was #BreakTheBias – the campaign aimed to draw attention to and challenge biases, deliberate or unconscious, that exist in communities, schools, colleges, universities, and workplaces. 

Images of individuals with their arms crossed in solidarity flooded online channels. The campaign encouraged us to commit to forging an inclusive world without gender bias, discrimination, and stereotyping by striking the IWD 2022 pose as well as sharing resources and guidance. 

This year, Cognito London hosted a breakfast for fellow communications professionals to celebrate International Women’s Day. ING Bank’s Senior Media Relations Manager and Chair of DEI, Deepa Bose, spoke about ING’s Orange Code, their manifesto of company values and expected behaviour from employees. An open discussion followed, where attendees shared their own experiences and insights into how to improve workplace culture. 

The discussion centred on how to build an inclusive workforce. Companies need to be held accountable for the behaviours they reward and the culture they create. This begins with hiring. Employers need to ensure the language of job specifications appeals to individuals rather than a specific gender. They also need to leave posts up for a longer time. Data shows that men jump into applying for a role far more readily, where women are more hesitant, considering how they do not fit the role first. A longer hiring window would get more diversity into the pool at the start of the process. The group highlighted the importance of diverse interview panels and programmes that train young managers (both male and female) on interview techniques and equitable hiring processes.

The group reflected on how COVID-19 impacted office culture and the experience of women in the workplace. Lockdowns and the closure of schools initially led to increased responsibilities for several women, who were forced to adjust to home-schooling and remote working overnight. In the majority of cases, women automatically became the primary caregivers. 

Women stand to benefit from the flexibility of a hybrid model of work. Without valid incentive, they are less likely to return to the office. But the attendees said this can lead to a dilution of valuable office culture. It is important that the employers of 2022 recognise and seek to understand the condition of these women, incentivising their return to the office, ensuring their voices are heard whilst also catering to demanding family situations. 

Women starting their careers are another group whose careers could be negatively impacted by the pandemic. Employers need to ensure these women receive the same networking experiences and training opportunities as past generations, placing them in front of the correct crowds that will help them rise the ladder in later years. 

As we flick past International Women’s Day on our calendars, there are many achievements and much progress to celebrate. And yet, there is still some way to go. We all have a role to play in eliminating bias, stereotypes, and discrimination from the workplace. It is time to value difference and collectively #BreakTheBias.

Olivia Newcombe is an account executive in Cognito's London office