Celebrating International Women’s Day has been a tradition at Cognito, where we invite clients, employees and friends of the agency to come together to reflect on our experiences and celebrate the achievements of women we admire. The theme for International Women’s Day this year was #choosetochallenge, which was very fitting, given what an extraordinary and disruptive year it has been for many women.
While we are seeing more women in leadership positions than ever before, with the number of female directors at FTSE-100 firms increasing by 50% in the last five years, there is the general sentiment that the pandemic has held women back in their careers. In the past year, women are more likely to be furloughed or lose their jobs; or are more likely to be working full time while managing home-schooling and housework.
So how can women support each other in progressing greater gender equality and diversity and stop the reverse of the progress? Focused on the theme of #choosetochallenge, here are the tips and the summary of our conversations on what can we do support each other on:
- The Art of the Ask – practice asking, if you really want it, ask for it. This could be a step up or putting yourself forward for a new project or opportunity. If you ask 9/10 you will get what you want. Believe in yourself and have the confidence to do it.
- Support each other in meetings and speak up for each other. Have a conversation in advance of the meeting and make a pact to back each other up on opinions and decisions.
- If a remark or comment sits uncomfortable with you in a meeting, have a conversation after the meeting about how it made you feel. Explain your point of view how the remark came across.
- Women are often very quick to get on with the next job in hand and don’t take the time to look back and celebrate success. Take 10 minutes at the end of the week to write down what you are most proud of and your achievements in a notebook.
It’s by having open and inclusive conversations like these that can really make difference to women, as we strive for more progressive mindsets and inclusive behaviours. We are all unified in driving for greater diversity and equality for all and collectively if we all #choosetochallenge, we can once again start to turn the tide.
Yvonne Maher is the deputy managing director of the London office and Cognito's Head of People