Balance for Better this International Women's Day

The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.
— Gloria Steinem

The theme of International Women’s Day 2019, taking place this Friday 8 March (although in our office, every day is IWD ✊), is #BalanceForBetter.

The International Women’s Day website asserts, “Balance is not a women's issue, it's a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage. Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”

Agreed.

But…

“a gender-balance of employees…”

By this description, here at Crystallised, as a team of three women, we are decidedly unbalanced. Is this by accident or by design? Is this born out of my own ambition to provide opportunities and access to opportunities to people that might not be the obvious choice, to people that don’t push themselves to the front, to the people that don’t shout the loudest? Is it because of my own experiences of work-place gender-imbalance and gendered-pay gaps? Is it because every time I’ve ever interviewed for a post more women have applied than men? And is that the case because I’m a woman?

Arguably all of those reasons, and a multitude of others.

It’s often something that is commented on, the gender of our team; by both men and women, by those who work with us and by those who don’t - and on each occasion I wonder how many times an all male team would experience the same?

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We don’t recruit (or not recruit) based on gender, btw. We recruit based on values, skills, ambition and experience. In that order. Why in that order? Because those who have not been readily able to access opportunities, are less likely to have experience, does that diminish their values and ambition?

And that doesn’t exclude men, but as Ruth Mortimer of Econsultancy so wisely points out, it does allow us to find the men who are pushing and advocating for women. Which is a bit of a deal breaker for me, lads.

There’s not about to be any gender-balance in our team any time soon, I’m not afraid to say.

There are broadly three types: men who are sexist, men who haven’t noticed [gender inequality] and men who are really pushing and advocating for women – and those are the kind of men who you want to have in your organisation.
— Ruth Mortimer, managing partner at Econsultancy

We do though practice balance daily, and we pledge to continue to do the same throughout 2019 the year of #BalanceforBetter.

  • Work/life balance: Whether or not we like it (we don’t, btw) women’s careers are typically disproportionately affected by home and child-care responsibilities and so, we work flexibly, we provide ample holiday, TOIL, mental health days and a staff welfare budget. Our clients are not the most important thing to us, our people are.

  • Balance in commissioning: When we’re commissioning contractors, from photographers to copywriters, there must be a balance of applications. If our call outs do not attract a gender-balanced pool, we will actively seek out individuals to achieve that balance.

  • Balance in opportunity: This year, we will offer sixty free mentoring hours for young women aged 18-24 who are interested in developing a career in the marketing profession.

There are always opportunities to learn and be better, to be more aware and to understand the power you hold to affect change. Whether you simply commit to not talking over your female colleagues in a meeting, or whether you can go big and commit to creating meaningful opportunities for women this year (opportunities that don’t unconsciously - or consciously for that matter - discriminate on ethnicity, class, religion, sexual orientation) then we’ll all be moving forward.

What are we doing I hear you ask? Well, we will be making a series of pledges building on our Balance in Opportunity commitment above, which we will detail on Friday - so hold us to account in 2019 or better yet, join us in #BalanceforBetter.

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