07 Mar

“International Women’s Day is always a moment to celebrate how far we have come and to set the direction of travel” (Dame Fiona Woolf).

World Traders celebrated International Women’s Day at Bakers’ Hall listening to an inspirational panel composed of Dame Fiona Woolf, former Lord Mayor and now Partner at CMS Cameron McKenna, Natalie Wharton, Founder and Managing Director of Wharton Business Consulting, Devika Wood, Founder and CEO of Vida Care, and Michael Cole-Fontayn, Chairman at Association for Financial Markets Europe. The panel was led by Past Master Professor Heather McLaughlin, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law at Coventry University.

The panel explored some of the challenges faced by women both in the UK and internationally, focusing on how to address the “gender gap” which still gapes wide in some areas under existing laws, organisational policies and the “historical hangover” of inequality.

The panel acknowledged that good progress has been made by FTSE 100 companies in addressing the need for diversity by increasing the proportion of women on boards. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. FTSE 350 stats are less encouraging, with more than 50% of companies still not on track to achieve their diversity targets set back in 2016.

Points raised in addressing the gender gap included how we are all responsible for challenging the status quo, whether at home, at work, at school or in our community. We should also de-shackle ourselves from the idea that “women need fixing”. Companies should instead look at “fixing the workplace” by creating a culture supported by an infrastructure that benefits both women and men. We also need to build more awareness of the benefits of women leaders: “it’s not just about having a seat at the table…it’s also about being heard”. In the end, it is our “responsibility to help those who do not have a voice” (and to help those that need that extra nudge to tackle the things they feel are wrong!).

As World Traders, it is hugely important to continue to drive for diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our lives.

Oana Lazar