When did I quit my career? I think it was possibly sooner than I imagined; it was at the point where I thought, “I won’t continue with my law degree because I want to become a mother at some point. Instead I’ll turn to journalism because, well, you can at least freelance.” My career choice – while it has served me well and I wouldn’t change anything – was founded on looming inequality in the workforce. As a 22-year-old woman (with a mild hangover, a Greggs sausage roll in-hand and little ability to see beyond the weekend), I could see becoming a mother and continuing as a barrister would not go hand-in-hand. So I became a journalist, then a mother and here I am Sellotaping words together between boob feeds and hollers for “the red spoon, NOT the blue spoon”.
But brightly-hued cutlery and weaning concerns aside, why am I uniting with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) for their Broken Windows Campaign? (A campaign to tackle the smaller, discriminatory and often unintentional behaviours that contribute to gender inequality in the workforce) Is this not another bandwagon to jump on for International Women’s Day? Is this not just another company wheeling me out in the hope that they’ll look more gender-focused in their agenda? For one day?
I thought it might be. My cynical side had a – fairly unkempt – eyebrow raised. But what this organisation is trying to do is at the heart of what I’m trying to change with our Flex Appeal campaign – a campaign to push for flexible working for one and all in a bid to tackle the gender pay gap. The missing pieces of my jigsaw lie with them. I have the glaring lack of equality in front of me – from every message I receive of another pregnant mother made redundant on maternity leave to headlines shouting “why are there so few women at the top?” but they have the mechanic to pool that frustration and transform it into change.
Here’s a little intro from their side on what they are trying to do:
In the wake of 2017’s #MeToo movement and the introduction of compulsory gender pay gap reporting in the UK – professional women have never been more aware, or more engaged, in gender inequality than right now.
But while the papers and social media are full of examples of large-scale behaviours that contribute to gender inequality, women at work still need help challenging everyday discrimination that contributes to gender inequality. These small yet very common behaviours are otherwise known as ‘Broken Windows’. These behaviours can include women being talked over in meetings, comments about flexible working, or being described as pushy or shrill when they are being decisive or firm.
Ahead of International Women’s Day, the CMI has released a satirical ‘Inequality: a how-to guide’ video as part of its Broken Windows campaign, which aims to tackle smaller, discriminatory and often unintentional behaviours that contribute to gender inequality in the workplace.
If you don’t see how the above works, take a look at this video of comedienne Stevie Martin and actor Thom Tuck showing what it’s all about. Also for anyone looking for positive ways to navigate the broken windows in front of them, check out the new CMI Women Facebook Group, a new online community launched to give professional women and men a platform to rapidly crowdsource solutions to address the smaller behaviours which contribute to the wider gender issues at work.
If you want to hear more from me on this matter or have your voice heard, join me at 8pm on International Women’s Day (8th March) for a Facebook Live that will be broadcast on the CMI Facebook page. I will be joining Stevie Martin along with Randall Peterson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School, Haleema Baker-Mir and Reetu Kansal, both members of the CMI Women Committee and a representative from the Government Equalities Office to discuss issues of gender inequality in the workplace and how to tackle it!
This isn’t about making ‘sexism sexy’, it’s not about leaving men out in the cold and while this is happening around International Women’s Day, it’s not about one day. It’s about giving myself, at 22, the tools to follow my chosen career without the fear of a huge oaken door being slammed in my face the minute the swimmers run free. A career that could have led to me fighting in court for those who have, perhaps, faced discrimination instead of writing about it.
To find out more information, join the CMI Women Facebook Live broadcast on 8th March 2018 at 8pm or join the new CMI Women Facebook Group, a new online community launched to give professional women and men a platform to rapidly crowdsource solutions to address the smaller behaviours which contribute to wider gender issues at work.
This blog post was written in association with CMI.