Written by Kate Krachai

I cannot tell a lie. I have my doubts about International Women’s Day. Should it still exist? Does its existence tell us more about our society than we care to admit?

Yesterday I was asked to speak at the Female Entrepreneurs for International Women’s Day forum at Sheffield Hallam University, alongside:

·        Claire Burn from Relish Learning

·        Nelly Naylor from NN Photography

·        Andrea Chatten from Unravel and The Blinks author

·        Roxana Whiteman from Uncover Art

It was hugely inspirational for me to hear these ladies’ stories of how they started and grew their businesses. Presenting to students with a range of interests, it was an absolute delight to be part of, and to be able to help influence and inspire, students to start-up their own businesses.

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. The key theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BeBoldForChange

A thought provoking hashtag. What do we need to change? Why, as women, might we not be bold for change?

Clearly gender parity should be the norm. Surely, in this day and age, this really should not be be an issue anymore? I fear not. The existence of International Women’s Day must surely be a signal that there is work still to be done.

Being a working mother is one of the hardest things in my life to manage. We are implicitly asked by our colleagues to do our jobs like we have no children and by (some of) our peers to be mothers like we have no job.

In the workplace we are told that being emotional or sensitive is a weakness. It is not. Nurturing both our children and our staff should be seen as being of real merit. Also, so should developing future members of society, and the leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow, to have self-awareness, compassion and kindness.

At Quality Context we value family. We celebrate personal as well as corporate successes. There are equal opportunities for all, equal treatment and equal pay. Want to take a few hours to go to your child’s school performance? No problem. Want us to sponsor their junior football league? Bring it on. Want to take time out to care for your aging parents or make arrangements for your pet before you come to work in the morning? Be our guest. To ensure we could not be clearer, we recently introduced flexi-time. Come and go as you please – albeit can you be around between 12-3, otherwise we would miss you! This is less about gender equality but equality for all.

In a team of 23, 11 are women. Two out of six of our senior team are female. Half of our lab team are female. Some have children, some don’t. Some have pets, some don’t. Some are scientists, some are planners, some are assistants, some are leaders. What joins us all, and our male counterparts, together, is that we are one big QC family, working towards a common goal. All with the same values.

In case you were wondering, this gender balance is not by design. It is simply the outcome of hiring purely for skill, outlook and temperament. Our policies and approach to recruitment is gender neutral.

So why do we need to #BeBoldForChange? Or why might we not be bold for change?

In order to think about this, I wondered what does “Be Bold” mean? That trusty tool Google told me that bold can mean:

·        Courage to go beyond and push further than you think you’re even capable.

·        The ability to be the best version of your true self, without regret.

·        A determination to act to achieve the best possible outcome without fear or doubt.

·        Moving forward with conviction in the face of everyone retreating.

·        The courage to do what others won’t.

·        Stepping up when others are frozen in fear.

·        Taking a chance and doing something you believe is right, no matter what the outcome.

·        Having enough confidence to take action in the moment.

·        The willingness to act on, speak about, or address something about which you are passionate, even if it is out of your comfort zone.

·        Jumping right in front of what may be fearful and saying ‘Bring it on!’

The very thought of boldness seems to stir a passion in people. We have that in spades at QC. Our core values or traits are that we are:

  1. Knowledgeable
  2. Passionate
  3. Pragmatic
  4. Conscientious
  5. Caring

Everything a good mother (or father) should be. Everything a good team player should be. Everything that we at QC aspire to be for each other, for our clients, for our community.

So being Bold For Change is just something that we have in our blood here. And if I can stand up in front of a group of female students today and inspire them to be bold for change, then that’s my honour. Embracing life, and whatever it throws at you, and seeing the positive in change is something we should all be able to do. Female or otherwise.