International Women’s Day
As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year and reflect on the achievements of women and the many challenges that they are still faced with, what really strikes me is how often women remain silent about the issues that are really affecting them.
This phenomenon was blown wide open this year with the emergence of the ‘Me Too’ campaign and the exposure of widespread misconduct towards women in Parliament. Whilst the abundance of such wrongdoing at the highest level of power is in itself a disappointment, if not all that shocking, what is so dismaying to see time and again is this recurring theme that women go through so many of the same issues, but sadly they are usually doing it alone….and in silence.
With a 20-year career in HR and coaching I have had many conversations with women at work and sometimes it is pretty hard to believe what is really going on beneath the surface. Not only are women beset by the baggage that comes from historical inequality, but they also face the challenge of trying to prove themselves in a workplace that still doesn’t know how to accommodate the most basic and universal needs of half of its workforce.
Let’s face it, most women wouldn’t feel that they could openly say to their office colleague “Oh by the way I am going through the menopause, I don’t sleep most nights, I am tired, emotional, stressed, forgetful, I have lost confidence.... and by the way I daren’t stand up from my desk because I have just leaked blood all over my chair and my clothes”.
Even just including that paragraph here in the relative safety of a blog is likely to have switched some readers off. The very real effects of a woman’s biological cycles are kept undercover for risk of jeopardising credibility and can result in many women retiring early or switching to less demanding roles. Menopause is a reality for half the work force reaching a certain age, and yet this is not accepted or supported openly at a time when companies need to encourage more diversity in senior roles.
Women often have a number of biological cycles to contend with whilst maintaining business as usual. And true to the nature of most women throughout time, they’re not complaining about it either. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t need support, or that their lives couldn’t be made easier through greater dialogue, recognition and understanding.
I am passionate about coaching women through these cycles, because as we start to acknowledge the reality of work life balance, health and emotional wellbeing, these should be open conversations for both men and women at work. I firmly believe that if we are to cultivate a workforce where women’s experience and wisdom is truly valued, then we need to allow women and indeed society as a whole to embrace the process of maturation of both men and women in the workplace.
International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It's a call to action for accelerating gender parity and a collective day of global celebration.
#PressforProgress is their 2018 social media campaign designed to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.