Recognised around the world, International Women’s Day is
a time for celebrating female achievement and reflecting on the progress that
has been made by women. This includes the social, economic, cultural and
political achievements of women, whether this is on a small scale or a grander
platform. It is also a day for recognising and progressing gender equality, as
well as the agenda for every person to be afforded the same rights and respect,
regardless of divisions; whether national, ethnic, cultural, economic or
SLR is fortunate to employ many intelligent and inspiring women who have worked
hard in their chosen fields, and have made their own mark on the company. To
celebrate International Women’s Day (8th of March) we want to
share with you the stories of some of these women. So, having asked many of the
senior women in SLR what International Women’s Day means to them, we are
delivering their stories, opinions and anecdotes.
Sarah Lovell, Associate, EMPC
Starting out in my
professional life over 15 years ago, I always felt a strong sense of pride,
forging my career in what was still very much a male dominated sector. Even
growing up in the 1980’s, it genuinely never occurred to me that being a girl
could stop me from achieving anything I put my mind to. Happily it is a much
more of a balanced workplace nowadays and I have had the pleasure of working
with many talented and inspiring women over the years.
Now in the middle
stages of my career, juggling work with family life, I feel fortunate that I
have not felt the need to make a choice between one or the other. But it can
often feel like a struggle and the lack of diversity at the top of many
companies does not go unnoticed. When the pace of career progression slows, it
is natural to wonder whether the 'glass ceiling' is real or imagined. Either
way, it is great to see the benefits of greater diversity in senior management
starting to be more widely acknowledged and I for one would love to see more
encouragement and support for those women who are striving towards the
Leanne Broadbent, Senior Commercial Advisor, Oil & Gas Advisory
When asked to write a contribution for International Women’s Day my first
reaction was to say “No”. I’ve never felt that my gender has impacted my career
– I mean “Why would it?” and so in truth I’ve never really connected with the
idea of an 'International Women’s Day’. When people talk of equality in the
workplace I instinctively think of disability or race but never gender. So what
could I possibly have to say on the subject? On reflection however I realise
that my immunity to the issue of gender inequality, which obviously still
exists, is as a result of the great companies I have worked for during my
career, the bosses I’ve had as well as my ‘no excuse’ attitude.
My first graduate role
was at National Power – the newly privatised arm of the Central Electricity
Generating Board. In 1996, the company had women at Board and Director Level in
commercial, corporate and engineering functions. This was a company that worked
hard to develop and retain talent offering flexible working and family friendly
policies. As my first employer, this was my norm. No opportunity was off limits.
My first posting was at Didcot coal fired power station learning the ‘ropes’ on
shifts with the O&M team. Whilst a female on shift was unusual at that time,
and there certainly was some ‘banter’, I learnt from experienced men who were
eager to share their knowledge.
Then years later moving
from a FTSE100 company to Challenge Energy - I again joined a company with a
gender diverse workforce across all disciplines that offered flexible working
making it possible to manage a career and a family – and I see the same
philosophy in SLR. When I talk to other working mums juggling their careers with
family priorities, I realise that this is not their norm and finding the right
balance for them is often a struggle.
Without realising it, I
have been surrounded by role models (male and female) that have set a standard
throughout my career. But my first role model was my Dad. He never let me or my
sister play the ‘female’ card. We helped with chores whether it be changing the
oil and the spark plugs on the car (in the days when people could service their
own engines) or helping to bake a cake. On taking delivery of my first car I had
to prove I could change a tyre before being allowed out on the road – his mantra
to us “being female is not an excuse”.
And so my message is
for the Dads out there. Be a role model to your daughters … and to your sons: –
“make no excuse, accept no excuse, and embrace every opportunity”.
Julie Gartside, Advisory Service Line Operations Manager and Technical
Director, Carbon & Energy Management, Manchester
What does International Women’s Day mean to me? I hope it’s a celebration of
women’s achievements and an opportunity to hear how different women have arrived
at their current positions in their careers. So how did I get to where I am now?
I could talk about the mechanics of degrees, the different roles I’ve had etc.
but I think it’s the underlying things that make me tick which I’d like to
motivation. My motivation originates as a result of my parents and older
brother. My brother was born with a disability and never had an easy time
growing up. As a consequence my parents had a challenge on their hands in making
the everyday work smoothly (but they did it brilliantly). As a result of growing
up in that environment I know how incredibly lucky I am to even be able to do
the basic things in life like walking, so being able to have a career is a
privilege and something I value every day. I hope everyone reminds themselves
frequently of what their motivation is.
Secondly, I want to
enjoy my job. I’m no different to most people; if we enjoy something we will
want to keep doing it and we give it more effort. So throughout my career I have
looked for and grasped the opportunities I am likely to enjoy because they are
either interesting or challenging. And when those opportunities haven’t existed,
I have gone to find them. I’m certainly not passive! If I have seen a situation
where something should and could be done then I’ve tried to help make it
happen. This pursuit of a happy and fun working environment also once led to
making the CEO of my former company wear giant purple glasses when myself and
some colleagues were presenting to him and the rest of the Executive Team our
recommendations on a diversity campaign!
I don’t think being
female has ever negatively affected my career. I hope most of us now see past
gender or disabilities or the other things that make us different, and instead
we look at what makes each of us special and the strengths we each bring to our
teams. I think the diversity we have in our skills sets, personalities,
experiences etc. is something we should cherish. So whilst I’m happy there is an
‘International Women’s Day’ to celebrate achievements and inspire women where
barriers still exist, I hope one day in the future it will be considered
unnecessary as gender just won’t be seen as an issue anymore.