Marked annually on March 8th, International Women's Day is one of the most important days of the year to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. At Brunel, we’ve decided to dedicate the whole month of March to put a spotlight on this years’ theme #BreakTheBias and to also recognize the women of Brunel who are all contributing to a better future and planet.
As Brunel’s Global Head of People and Culture I am thrilled to open our International Women’s Month. My own career in People & Culture has spanned nearly 20 years across various industries. I have lived in and worked in different countries, and I am a wife and Mother.
International Women’s Day is a time of year where I can take a moment to reflect on my own journey as a woman in a senior leadership role. Also, it’s an opportunity to recognize the very real challenges that women face in the workplace, talk openly about our journeys and listen to others.
Then why celebrate women in the workplace? My ‘why’ is that it gives me a chance to look back, acknowledge how I have contributed to a more inclusive workplace, show self-compassion for the challenges I have experienced, and give gratitude to those who have guided and supported me.
There have been times in my career when I have experienced gender based biases, and felt I had to adjust myself too far to fit in with established structures, archetypes and workplace cultures. I now know that I wasn’t being my true, authentic self, which resulted in a feeling of not belonging, or not feeling ‘good enough’.
Tough, right? I’m sure I’m not that only person who has felt that way at some point. What I lean into is self-compassion. There will be times where challenges arise but the person who you can be kindest to in that moment is you. We are often much nicer to others than we are to ourselves. We are all perfectly imperfect. I talk to other women to understand their perspective and experiences. You’d be surprised at the similarities you’ll find when you start talking to others. During my time at Foot Locker I worked with some incredible leaders, Susie Kuhn, Natalie Ellis and Ainhoa Zubillaga who owned their own personal leadership style and really upheld authenticity in challenging moments.
A diverse workplace creates a balance in perspectives and opinions, to help see things through a different lens. Graeme Maude our COO at Brunel is my sparring partner on tough topics and will ask questions to allow self-reflection. Talking to trusted advisors who support and give honest feedback have been key for my growth. Those who provide you the unvarnished truth at work or in life want the best for you even if it doesn’t land as intended.
Being able to develop these authentic connections with myself, and also support others to do so, is my ‘why’ when I reflect on International Women’s’ Month.
Now, I would like to share some of the great work the Brunel team is doing when it comes to Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (DIB), and what we are doing to break gender bias #BreakTheBias.
Brunel’s Diversity Inclusion & Belonging (DIB)
We continue to build out our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) framework because this important work will never stop and is a top priority for Brunel. Our vision is really simple, we take both a Global and Regional approach as we recognize the value of teams are made up of varied communities, and perceive measurable business benefits that come from employees with a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and experiences.
The key pillars of our DIB framework are
- Leading an inclusive culture,
- Recruiting, developing & retaining talent and,
These pillars are interconnected with one another and are essential for a successful working culture, business and community.
One of the key initiatives we have invested further in last year, was Talent Succession & Development across our global organization, as we want to enable development at all levels of the organization. This key people process has provided greater visibility particularly with gender at different levels of our organization. Our mission is to create gender balance at all layers of the organization. We identified that we need to increase the representation of women at our first two leadership layers across our global organization and we use the succession & development planning process to have a focused approach to achieve this.
We have also been asking greater questions about DIB in our engagement survey to better understand perception and the voice of our internal customer. Whilst D&I education has been ongoing in some regions, our aim this year is to dial this up globally to ensure our people and leaders have the knowledge and tools to support having effective conversations and remove unconscious biases and to support a diverse and inclusive team culture.
Our Americas and Australasia teams have well established DIB committees and all members have been contributing to a more inclusive workplace and community through their commitment. I would like to make a special recognition to four amazing women who are ambassadors to their region but also our global business, Angelina Brathwaite (Senior Client Partner Americas) is a board member of Women of Color in Pharma (WOCIP), Sonya Liddle (Manager D&I Solutions) is the Chairperson for WAVE (We All Value Equality), Tania Sinibaldi (Managing Director Australasia) and Beth Bowen (Managing Director Americas) and would like to thank them for their advocacy.
Our everyday commitment to a diverse and inclusive culture at Brunel will never stop and I encourage you to challenge, break the bias and create a better place to live and work through your own authenticity!