Two years ago, on International Women’s Day, we featured pictures of every female member of staff (about 10 of us at the time) on our social media channels throughout the day with a little bit of information about each of them and their role within the company. This year, as the day approached, I pondered doing the same thing…until I looked at a list of all our staff and realised that with 53 female members of staff this wasn’t an option unless I wanted to annoy and probably lose a fair few of our followers at the same time! (There’s a whole other post here about our phenomenal growth I’m sure but we’ll leave that to another day)
Having had to count up our staff for this brief failed exercise, I was pleased to see my suspicions confirmed that representation within our company is pretty much 50/50. Out of 92 members of staff, 53 are female and out of our 6 senior managers (directors excluded), 4 are female. That means our workforce is 57.6% female and 66% of our senior management is made up of women. Catalyst (a global nonprofit working towards equality within the workplace) state that in 2018-2019, women accounted for just 18.6% of executive committee members, 15.6% of finance directors, 11.7% of chief information officers, 29.6% of directors, 3.2% of CEO roles and just 33.8% of MPs in the House of Commons. This shows that once again, The Outdoors Group, is ahead of the curve and breaking that glass ceiling when it comes to equal opportunities.
Women in Leadership
The discussion around women in leadership is a complex subject and one that Robyn Vincent, our esteemed Headteacher of The Outdoors School, delves into in her TOG Talk which we have launched today to celebrate International Women’s Day. In it, she talks about the history of female leaders and how in times gone by, leadership roles were taken by the most adept and experienced for the job, regardless of gender. She talks about Cleopatra as a philosopher and mathematician, the popularity of Women’s Football in the early 1920s and when things shifted to a more male paradigm. She also talks about the difference between male and female paradigms and how the latter provides a more inclusive, supportive approach to leadership, building up those around you and resulting in more success in business. She also explains that it’s not a case of only men tapping into male paradigms and women into female paradigms. They are general approaches and philosophies that can be recognised and adapted by anyone, regardless of how they identify. If you’re interested in finding out more, please head over to our YouTube channel after reading this to watch her talk in full!
Choose to Challenge
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Choose to Challenge’. This is particularly pertinent in light of Robyn’s talk. She talks about rejecting the traditional ideas of leadership and how to behave in the workplace and suggests a new, more inclusive approach.
- Find Your Purpose – regardless of whether we’re talking about life in general or within the workplace, Robyn challenges us to focus on what our purpose is. We can’t change the world in one go but if we all choose one small thing to focus on improving, the world would be a much better place. You don’t have to look too far for examples of this, from Gina Martin who successfully made ‘upskirting’ a criminal offence to Amika George who at the age of 17, started a campaign to end period poverty – these young women have taken one injustice and ran with it to try and bring about positive change in the world.
- Build your toolbox – Identify your skill sets and where your strengths lie and use them! You might be a fantastic public speaker, you could be an administrative whizz, you might be incredible at making connections with people on a real level. You could be an amazing artist, brilliant with children, great with numbers and finances. Work out what you’re good at and use that!
- Utilise Others – Everyone’s toolbox will contain different skills, if you are facing a task that you feel you need help with – ask for it! There is no shame in reaching out and the more you do this, the more others around you will feel safe enough to do the same.
- Build Each Other Up – Don’t knock each other down, instead support each other. We’re stronger together and no one ever felt better for making someone else feel worse. Community is key, in everything.
Modelling the Future
Here at The Outdoors Group, we feel so passionately about modelling the future for the young people that we work with and having equal representation is so important to this. If young women see women in positions of management or in roles that they wouldn’t traditionally expect to see women in, it will open their eyes to what they can achieve. And knowing the incredible next generation – they’ll push it even further! It’s only been 100 years since women got the vote and look how far we’ve come already. Yes, there’s still work to do but let’s celebrate where we’re at today. So this Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the amazing women in our lives and commit to challenging things that we feel need changing this year.
Author: Hannah Durdin, Forest School Leader & Administrator
Date: Monday 8th March 2021