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10 ways to #EmbraceEquity this International Women’s Day and beyond

07 Mar 2023 | Jenny Garrett To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, Jenny Garrett OBE shares 10 ways to #EmbraceEquity in the workplace and move towards a world that recognises, accepts and celebrates difference, enabling equal outcomes for women.

"It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences." (Audre Lorde) 

Participants from the 2022-23 cohort of Aurora, Advance HE’s leadership development programme for women, will hear from Jenny Garrett OBE this International Women’s Day in a special virtual networking session on how we can #EmbraceEquity to create more gender-balanced higher education institutions at all levels.

Jenny is an award-winning career coach, leadership trainer, speaker and author. Her experience as a facilitator on Aurora, leads her to deliver a keynote at the networking event for International Women’s Day on 8 March. By exploring what inequity looks like in the day-to-day working lives of women, Jenny will explain the mindset shifts needed to embrace equity and show how the future is driving the need to embrace equity.

Jenny says,Striving for equity is very close to my heart. My definition of equity is:

Understanding and giving women and those from minoritised groups what they need to achieve equal outcomes. This is achieved by considering systems that disadvantage some, and seeking to overcome them. To do so we need to take an individual approach, to lead, share power and focus on outcomes. 

Here are my top tips to #EmbraceEquity this International Women’s Day and beyond. Let me know which you’ll try or what you’d add to the list.”

10 ways to #EmbraceEquity

  1. Flip it – have you heard a woman being referred to as a ‘working Mum’? I am guessing that the answer is yes, but how often do you hear men referred to as a ‘working Dad?’ If it can’t be flipped, don’t say it. See @ManWhoHasItAll parody Twitter account to highlight the double standards and bias that exists in society.
  2. Sponsor a female colleague - a sponsor’s role is to support and advise as well as advocate for you in key meetings and conversations. Sponsors have the potential to create career opportunities and open doors. According to research from the US, 59% of Black women in one study had never had an informal conversation with a senior manager, and consequently, are less likely to benefit from the advocacy, visibility and connections facilitated by this relationship.
  3. Use an intersectional lens - consider the diversity of women in your organisation. The minority within the minoritised: are some women having it harder than others? What is the experience of Black women who identify as having a disability, and/or from the LGBTQ+ community? According to ONS data in 2021, the median pay for disabled women (£11.51 per hour) was 10.5% less than non-disabled women (£12.86 per hour). 
  4. Positive action – positive action is needed to increase women’s representation and ensure women, especially disabled women, and women from Black and minoritised backgrounds, are selected. See the Runnymede Trusts Broken Ladders Report which highlights that “52% of women of colour experience recruitment discrimination compared to 19% of white women” and 42% reporting being passed over for promotion despite good feedback (compared to 27% for white women)”.
  5. Recruit age-positively – ensure that job adverts are accessible to older workers and use age-neutral language and images. Promote an age-positive culture: emphasise the importance of older employees’ contribution to the organisation and appreciate and recognise the benefits to the business of having an age-diverse workforce. Research conducted over the last few years has shown that the earnings of older female workers are affected by the intersection of gender and age discrimination. Women experience menopause, may have to care for elderly relatives, and are likely to have fewer career progression and development opportunities.
  6. Listen – ask women about their experiences and obstacles they face and act on their recommendations.
  7. Flexibility – create the ability for ALL roles to be part-time and role model it from the top.
  8. Celebrate female breadwinners - women out-earn male partners in almost a quarter of households, up from a fifth 16 years ago, according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on behalf of Royal London, the mutual insurer. Rather than stigmatising them negatively as alpha females, read Rocking Your Role, the guide to success for female breadwinners to understand their experience. 
  9. Stop judging women leaders more harshly than male leaders - termed the glass cliff, women who manage to break through the glass ceiling to achieve senior leadership positions traditionally reserved for men (such as CEO or Chair of the Board) find themselves in a precarious position. Women in leadership positions attract greater scrutiny and are judged more harshly on their performance compared with male peers and are more likely to be fired. 
  10. Be an Ally – mentor, advocate and be a trusted confidante for women in the workplace, and ensure that you look out for the minoritised women, such as those who are neurodivergent, who have an accent, and those who are introverted.

Gender in Higher Education Conference 2023

Join us at the Gender in HE Conference 2023 to consider the challenges of all genders in higher education and forge a path to improve conditions for all. Find out more and book your place.


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