International Women’s Day 2020: Q&As with Interim Leaders

International Women’s Day 2020: Q&As with Interim Leaders

International Women’s Day 2020: Q&As with Interim Leaders

This year for International Women’s Day, we asked a number of female interim managers in our network to answer a few questions on what this day means to them and to give advice on how we can reach gender equality

   

Professor Rebecca Bunting,

Interim Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire

 

What does the ‘Collective Individualism’ (#EachforEqual) theme of this year’s IWD mean to you?

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is one that resonates with me.  I truly believe that we are stronger together and it is only by women working together that we can make real change and create a more gender equal world.

Why do you think diversity and inclusivity is so important for the modern workplace?

I am immensely proud of the diversity of our campus and grateful for the vital contribution of my female colleagues and students. Without their contribution this university would certainly be a less vibrant and dynamic version of itself.

I have found a diverse workforce creates innovation, creativity and productivity and that is certainly the case at Bedfordshire. But we should also remember for a diverse workplace to thrive there must also be inclusion; it is only where there are inclusive policies and benefits that apply to everyone that you build a high performing staff team.

In your years of experience, what is the most positive change you have seen, and what is the area where you think the most work remains to be done?

The world of Higher Education has changed considerably since I started out. Then it was very unusual to see women in senior manager positions or at executive level and role models were few and far between.

Today it is a very different picture; women outnumber the men on my executive group and that picture is repeated throughout the University.

However, I know that is not the case everywhere. There is more to be done and I have found the change towards a fairer and more equal society to be frustratingly slow. The gender pay gap still exists and it is hard to believe that there are still workplaces where a man is paid more for doing the same work as a woman.

What do you think we can all do to truly make a positive difference for women everywhere?

We must double our efforts to encourage girls, from a very young age, to aim high, be resilient and confident. It all starts there.

What is your top piece of advice for aspiring women leaders?

Don’t suffer from imposter syndrome! And cultivate a strong network of female colleagues and friends for mutual support and challenge.

   

Becky Hellard,

Interim CFO in local government

   

What does the ‘Collective Individualism’ (#EachforEqual) theme of this year’s IWD mean to you?

It means that we all have a "real" and positive part to play in all areas of life.

Why do you think diversity and inclusivity is so important for the modern workplace?

In terms of gender, men and women are totally different species even though we are all human beings. We think differently, use language differently, give different meanings to words and situations, we display different behaviours. When there is a mix of men and women we can really capitalise on these differences, as well as bring balance. 

In your years of experience, what is the most positive change you have seen, and what is the area where you think the most work remains to be done?

In my 30 plus years in the workplace the most positive change I have seen is that there has been an increased understanding and awareness (still embryonic in some workplaces) of the contribution that both genders can bring.

What do you think we can all do to truly make a positive difference for women everywhere?

I think that women are more likely to put glass ceilings on themselves, so we need to help women lift these and hopefully break them for good.

What is your top piece of advice for aspiring women leaders?

Focus on how you can help others in the workplace, how you can bring a positive approach and energy.

   

Debbie Dekker,

Interim Strategy and Operations Executive

   

What does the ‘Collective Individualism’ (#EachforEqual) theme of this year’s IWD mean to you?

The world is a wonderful mix of people, no two are the same but all are equally important. We need to let people be themselves and focus on how we help each individual be the best they can so together we can achieve amazing outcomes.

Why do you think diversity and inclusivity is so important for the modern workplace?

Firstly, its simply the right thing to do. Secondly it makes good business sense.  What’s important is attracting the best talent whomever that may be and creating an environment where people are encouraged, valued and energised.  That’s when new ideas emerge and breakthroughs happen.

In your years of experience, what is the most positive change you have seen, and what is the area where you think the most work remains to be done?

Greater workplace flexibility has been a really positive change for both men and women.  As a society we are starting to realise that work and home are not separate and both are important.  Flexibility reduces stress and makes us happier and more productive.

The world is a big place and while things may be changing for some of us there are other parts of this world where little or nothing has changed.  We need more focus on keeping everyone moving forward #EachforEqual.

What do you think we can all do to truly make a positive difference for women everywhere?

Slogans are fine but you need action to effect change. Be brave, call out bias when you see it and go out of your way to help other women achieve their dreams.

What is your top piece of advice for aspiring women leaders?

My mum always said the cream will rise to the top so just be yourself, work hard, be kind and put family first. 

   

Ingrid Day,

Interim Academic Dean

   

Why do you think diversity and inclusivity is so important for the modern workplace?

Workplaces are vital change agents in reflecting, supporting and embracing the diversity that exists within vibrant societies.  Everyone is enriched when difference is commonplace and valued, rather than novel or discomforting.

In your years of experience, what is the most positive change you have seen, and what is the area where you think the most work remains to be done?

Inspirational women leading organisations and transforming them, and more and more men valuing women and recognizing their unique challenges.  

What do you think we can all do to truly make a positive difference for women everywhere?

Be the best that we are in everyday ways – supportive, approachable, clear-headed, intelligent and compassionate. Small actions grow change, incrementally and inexorably.

What is your top piece of advice for aspiring women leaders?

Discrimination, both covert and overt, is alive and well but try hard to deprive it of oxygen by modelling the behaviours that you look for in others.

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