International Womens Day

Each year the 8th March provides us with an annual occasion to celebrate women, to shine a spotlight on the achievements that we have made and continue to make, in the workplace and elsewhere. However, it is also a day to reflect on the work that is still needed & must be done for our society to succeed in the way it should.

The World Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap will not entirely close until the year 2186. That is 169 years from now until we see real equality!
It is so sad to see, that in this day and age, we are still discussing gender inequality - never mind the thought of it still being a reality, for so many people around the world, for the next 169 years.

Fortune magazine, this week, reported that the women’s share of Parliament worldwide is at its highest ever rate. Great news! But then the actual statistics do make for a less exciting read. At the end of 2015, the women’s share in parliament was 22.6%. At the end of 2016, it has risen to 23.3%. Yes we are moving forward but so much more needs to be done.

During my career in business, I have seen first-hand how important it is for women to have a seat at a leadership table and a voice in an organisation. There is no denying that gender diversity can help drive business success.

At Greens of Highgate, we have a healthy female to male ratio in our team. Of course it is easier to be in control of the gender gap when you run a small family business. The pay, opportunities, voices & inputs are easy to manage. However, even when you look at gender stereotypes within the workplace, everyone has to contribute equally to the heavy lifting of produce, or to arranging flowers and floral displays. There is no room to pigeon hole tasks or responsibilities and everyone chips in to the business’s needs. It is super easy to value each and every member and their contribution equally, regardless of gender.

We are also fortunate that in Highgate Village, gender parity is visible with so many of the local and independent shops run or owned by successful women.

The industry in which we work is somewhat different. The fruit & veg market is very much a male territory, the greengrocers are men, the produce wholesalers are men, the porters and fork-lift drivers all men. You may spot a few females at the market but they will be part of the catering and tea service.
Typically you think flowers or florist and you might picture a woman, however, when you visit Covent Garden Market, most of the flower sellers are men. If you order your flowers from Holland, they arrive via the 'flying dutch men' and the flower auctions are again all men.
It would be great to see more women in this industry and I am sure in years to come, the markets will not be so predominantly male. Better diversity is needed across both industries and it would be incredible to see both men & women succeeding equally.. lets just hope that we don't really have to wait 169 years to see it.

In the words of Richard Branson, ‘International Women’s Day is an important and great reminder that all of us in business can do much more to promote equality, respect and fairness’.

This year IWD have a theme, which is #BeBoldForChange .. there are lots of examples on their website for you to make bold changes as an individual or an organisation.

Some of the examples are really easy, I have listed a few below but take a look at the full list if you can.

- Challenge Stereotypes
- Monitor the gender pay gap
- Educate youth about positive relationships
- Volunteer your help to a local women’s charity
- Support or back a women-owned business
- Celebrate women’s achievements

Lastly, before I hear the screams of ‘Feminist’.. I leave you with some of my favourite inspiring quotes.

‘A feminist is anyone who recognises the equality and full humanity of women & men’ Gloria Steinem

‘A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle’ Irina Dunn

‘In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders’ Sheryl Sandberg

‘In politics if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman’. Margaret Thatcher

Thank you for reading