It was International Women's Day on Sunday 8th March. There are photos of people holding their arms up, quotes and tributes distributed across social - publicising female role models and promoting women's rights. Taking a look at recruitment and technology industries, there's content and events purely focused on gender-specific markets to empower and campaign for change all year round. #womenintech
In the pursuit of reaching equality in the workplace, across the industry and in our personal lives - I asked the women of Orbis what this year's theme 'Each For Equal' means to them.
"International Women’s day isn’t a day for only cis, straight, middle-class, middle-aged, white women to worry about the issues that affect them. It’s a day where we have to consider what we’re doing to fight stereotypes and bias towards all people, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, etc." - Rebecca
"Both men and women need to take responsibility when it comes to reaching gender equality in the workplace" - Rowan
"Using what makes you different, to an advantage." - Kristie
"I’m pro-equality, and for the record, there is an international mans day! The equality balance is in the man's favour, hence the limelight being on IWD. The general consensus I've got from most people is that they don’t necessarily want an IWD day they just want equality." - Jo
What challenges do you face in your role as a woman in the technology recruitment industry?
"Mansplaining, particularly basic acronyms like MVP, or telling me what a prototype is, or how qual research works. If I don’t understand something I’ll Google it or ask you. I think being a young woman means people often assume your clueless, unfortunately, ageing isn’t going to help this as I skip being an expert and move straight into ‘past it’. Ageism affects women badly, but no one cares about it until they become old." - Rebecca
"I’ve worked in environments where I’m not asked for my opinion, what I think, and the frustration of being talked over in meetings in a male-dominated environment. And it taught me the value of being in a diverse culture, and by that not just about recognising the opinion of just women in the workplace but about being conscious of how we treat and respect individuals. We all deserve to be treated equally." - Kate
"The ability to be a leader internally, externally – a lot of clients I work with are female leaders and those that aren’t want gender equality." - Kristie
"There is a massive gender problem in recruitment, especially at board level. I recently attended an event which was inspired by the obvious inequality in the industry. The host for the event shared a story about an industry event they held for 50 people and only 1 woman turned up." - Jo
What inspires you in your role within the industry?
"Strong women who are progressing their career, women who chose to take time out to travel, raise a family, or work on a side project, and women who help others to reach their goals. " - Rebecca
"Both doing well myself and also seeing others around me do well to motivate myself further" - Rowan
"There’s a lot of female leaders I work with that have achieved a lot, especially in financial services which historically has been male dominant, so I would say them." - Kristie
"Whether they’re a man or women, characteristics inspire me. People who are highly ambitious, entrepreneurial, creative and have good morals. It doesn’t come down to gender. I tend to find they’re quite common characteristics within recruitment." - Jo
Do you feel superior as a woman? Do you feel empowered by our rights as women, or the opposite?
" I do not feel superior as a woman! But I also recognise my privilege being white; despite being half Brazilian, you’d never know unless I mentioned it, able-bodied, not fat; I say that as I know many fat people are reclaiming this word, educated and young (ish)...
These things make my life easier. I’m also not looking for superiority, I’m looking for equality. " - Rebecca
"Yes, I think you have an incredible advantage being a women, especially in a leadership position. I don’t think I’ve been working long enough to see a significant change and that’s thankfully due to the women before me." - Kristie
"Do I feel discriminated against? No because I work with good people, but in the industry? Yes, and especially at the senior level.
I don’t care if 'they' don’t like me because I am a woman. That should never stand in your way!" - Jo
Do you experience ‘imposter syndrome’ at work? How do you navigate around it?
"Sometimes, I try think about a) the fact that I was hired, means I can’t be completely awful b) is there any evidence for my feelings? c) reflecting on where are these feelings coming from" - Rebecca
"One of the best ways to not feel like an imposter is to have an amazing support network at work, people that want to share your success and champion the good work you do." - Jo
Have you noticed a change in the industry / society / yourself over the years for women?
"The industry – yes, there are more women’s groups, and there’s more of a commitment to hiring diverse candidates. I’ve noticed people are becoming more aware of the many different groups that are marginalised, and there have been changes in how we talk about particular topics and the language we use.
As a society – Catcalling and unwanted groping in public have gone down for me – although I'm not sure if this was due to me getting older or society changing... " - Rebecca
"The change and wanting to change has never been so apparent. However, there’s a fine line between being hired because you’re good at what you do, to being hired because you are a female and there is a diversity target to hit." - Kate
"I can guarantee everyone in recruitment has looked at a CV and considered something that is highly biased. We were trained to be somewhat biased, to look at education and brands on CV’s and make judgements on that person's background. So how do we re-train original recruitment learns, how do we fight that instinct that’s been ingrained in our training and essentially our unconscious bias" - Jo
What would you like to see happen for women? (maternity, workplace benefits, laws, attitude, etc.)
"I would like to see more diversity generally in the workplace, not just a male / female divide, I think a diversity of ideas brings innovation and progress and I don’t think you can get a diversity of ideas when everyone is cut from the same cloth." - Rebecca
"The biggest change that could help for equality is shared enhanced parental leave. Make it a policy for everyone and investigate ways for the government to make that easier for companies to put in place – and so that it enables ALL business’ big and small to do this." - Jo
"Please, equality maternity/paternity leave – how is this not a universal thing already?" - Rebecca
"Also, more people calling out discrimination – even if it doesn’t personally affect them. Just because you’re not a part of the minority or protected characteristic doesn’t mean you don’t stand up for that right." - Jo
Have you ever taken a risk at work to assert yourself, your role, your opinion, your ideas? Was it a risk worth taking, was it a success, what did you learn from it?
"Yes – regularly. Considered risk is always worth it, as long as you’re not reckless! That again always depends on whether you’re around supportive people – whether they're male or female." - Jo
"I really pick my battles at work now with my opinions or ideas. It’s often not worth voicing something as I could get branded as ‘difficult’, ‘argumentative’, ‘intense’, ‘bossy’, or some other descriptor that I don’t want. I also generally try to keep my emotions level as getting excited or sad at work also draws comments that I don’t want" - Rebecca
"I have been previously told that I didn’t seem to be affected by the ups and downs of recruitment and asked if I understood success and failure... When I try to not be too emotional at work, I've been told I'm not emotional enough. Really, can’t win!" - Rebecca
Do you have any words of advice for the next generation of women and your sisterhood – for starting at work or facing challenges or for reaching their personal goals?
"Ask people for things, women don’t do it as much as men (in my experience) and it benefits them as they leverage their wider network effectively." - Rebecca
"Don’t go into any situation with the preconception that you’re going to be treated differently as a female – POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE!" - Rowan
"To stop focusing on what limits you and to focus on your ability to make a difference." - Kristie
"Just treat everyone equally. None of this stuff is about women, it’s about the bigger picture and equality for everyone.
We’re incredibly lucky in the UK to be further ahead than other countries, I think it was only last year women in Saudi could drive. I just think that’s mental! Imagine not being able to drive? Although we’re very lucky we work in an inclusive environment and a country ahead of others, it’s not the best, but it’s certainly not the worst. I think they were saying this morning on a podcast that women in my mother’s generation wouldn’t be able to get a mortgage?! MENTAL... Whatever you do, it needs to be what you want and what you feel is right – not what society tells you to do." - Jo