What is International Women’s Day and why is it important?
Written by Holly Christie, Marketing Apprentice
Today marks International Women’s Day – a time for us to focus on the celebration of women and push for a world with no gender discrimination. This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity, a chance to show the difference between Equality and Equity.
“Equality is the goal, equity is the means to get there” is the definition given by IWD, which we couldn’t agree more with! It is all about giving women the help they NEED (not giving everyone the same help). It is definitely not a “one size fits all”.
IWD began to take the UK by storm in the early 20th Century, before first-wave feminism. This was vital to women for them to be recognised in society as a minority. It created a platform where women could use their voices and come together to fight inequality. From then, it has developed to share information on female rights, opportunities, and barriers women often face in day-to-day life.
International Women’s Day and EveryDay Care & Support
One aspect of IWD that means a lot to us is ‘Women at Work’. This mission aims to break down systemic barriers within a working environment. The Age UK North Tyneside Group’s aim, to help older adults make the most out of life, has started conversations about our role in fighting inequality through our work. At Age UK North Tyneside and EveryDay Care & Support, we are believers in the recognition of our strong, female–led, Senior Leadership Team. So, we are taking this opportunity to recognise their achievements and allow them to share their knowledge. Many of our leadership team have been with us for many years and have seen the progression of both them and their colleagues.
Let’s meet some of these amazing women!
Dawn McNally is our Group Chief Executive Officer. Dawn says, “I have the great privilege of leading this fantastic organisation as Group Chief Executive and have done so now for the last 4 years. The role is not a straightforward Chief Executive role. As Group Chief Executive I am responsible for three subsidiary companies, EveryDay Care & Support, EveryDay Homes and Age UK North Tyneside Corporate Support Services, as well as Age UK North Tyneside.”
Michelle Adams, our Group Chief Operating Officer, says, “My role as Group Chief Operating Officer is to help lead a multidisciplinary team. I work closely with the CEO and leadership team to ensure our strategic priorities are delivered.”
We also have Kerry Parker, our Head of EveryDay Care & Support, and Registered Manager with CQC. And Sonya Roe, our Head of Charity Services. Sonya says, “I’ve very recently been promoted into the Head of Charity Services role which is very exciting. I’ve been with AUKNT for 8 and a half years now and it is our policy to nurture talent from within the organisation and ideally, where possible promote from within. My area includes; support for older adults in prison across six north east prisons, a large specialist dementia service including a team of Admiral Nurses, a number of Health & Wellness services designed to support people to improve their health and resilience, and of course our Befriending service. A very wide portfolio designed to support older adults to make more of life.”
Finally, we have Sharon Robinson, our Head of Finance who is responsible for all aspects of the finance function across the Group, and Angela Dawson, our Head of Quality & Transformation. Angie says, “I have just moved in to my new role as Head of Quality & Transformation, to lead on the maintenance and succession of quality standards and frameworks across the group to support continuous improvement and to support with the development, planning and delivery of change projects in different areas across the Group to achieve measurable improvements.”
What International Women’s Day means to us
With the range of talents and roles, we took the time to ask what IWD 2023 means to our leadership team.
Dawn put it simply, “Equal opportunity for everyone.”
Sonya said, “The Australians have a term, “a fair go” and for me it is important for everyone to have the same opportunity to be the very best they can be, level up the playing field to allow everyone to shine. People have different strengths and it’s important that they can be developed to achieve the best that they can in their chosen field.”
Women in leadership
It is known a leadership role presents itself with a set of challenges alone, without considering the struggles of inequality. Women face bias and discrimination when progressing in their careers due to the stigmatism surrounding femininity and motherhood. Research shows that 60% of women face workplace micro-aggression. This has driven the improvement of workplace environments for women. Therefore, our leadership team at Age UK North Tyneside have some encouraging words for women wanting to get into leadership.
Sharon says, “Go for it. If you work for a strong organisation they will support you all the way, and your colleagues will be there on the good and bad days. Both of these shape who you will become as a leader.”
Angie echoed Sharon’s sentiments, saying “Go for it! You can achieve anything you put your mind to. Inspire and motivate your team and bring them with you as you can’t do it on your own. Remember ‘respect’ is earned. Be strong, confident and honest.”
Sonya added, “In this day and age there is no reason why female leads should not exist in every sector and field. The only thing which could hold them back is their own lack of knowledge or confidence and both can be worked on.”
“Find your passion,” says Michelle, “Create your own brand. Play to your strengths and do not shy away from your weaknesses. You need to have a genuine desire to serve others. Find a great mentor. Leading people comes with great responsibility and a wonderful feeling of achievement.”
Creating a fair and equal world
At Age UK North Tyneside and EveryDay Care & Support, we want to support people from all walks of life, and our leadership team couldn’t agree more. We asked them to explain how they believe the Age UK North Tyneside Group displays fairness and equality.
Sonya said, “We never discriminate. We embrace differences and that, importantly for both staff here and the customers we serve, includes age. We recruit based on our values and that creates the spine of our work and what we achieve as a result.”
Kerry added, “Strong values that underpin everything we stand for and do across the organisation, robust policies and processes for all to follow to support fairness and equality.”
Finally, Michelle said, “We have an environment and culture where every individual has a sense of belonging and purpose and is empowered to achieve their full potential. From recruitment, to selection, training and retention, everyone is treated equally, with fairness, and respect.”
How can we progress?
Activism proves that there is strength in numbers. So, it’s no surprise that the work and missions of IWD need to be incorporated into our everyday lives. We should recognise the struggles women face and celebrate their achievements more, and with that will come change.