Lifting up employees on International Women’s Day

By Bridget Woods, principal, wholesale commercial and propositions planning at BT Wholesale

Throughout my career, I’ve worked for many leaders who I’ve found inspirational, several of them women. These women have acted as role models and inspired me to believe I can further my career – role models can be very powerful. At BT Wholesale there are a number of leaders who are women trailblazing the way, and it’s one of the reasons I chose to work here.

As a business leader, I also know just how important diverse voices are for making better business decisions. More diverse companies are more profitable, innovative and have higher employee satisfaction. To create an inclusive and diverse workforce companies need the same commitment and strategic focus on improving the proportion of women as given to other key organisational initiatives.

Companies need an environment where everyone feels valued and included. Women, indeed every individual, deserve to feel trusted, challenged, stretched and supported. Over the last few years women’s careers have been disproportionally impacted by COVID. As restrictions start to be relaxed, companies need to ensure that they are creating inclusive environments for women to excel. 

International Women’s Day (IWD) gives us a great opportunity to recognise the progress we’ve made but also highlight how far we still need to go. This year the theme for IWD is #BreakTheBias. Bias against women is rooted in our society, and we are seeing a worrying increase in misogyny (ingrained prejudice against women) and violence against women. IWD provides the opportunity for companies to discuss the systemic biases and inequalities women face in the workplace and beyond. 

In the workplace, 73 per cent of women say they have experienced bias, yet less than a third of employees are able to recognise bias when they see it. People have many aspects to their identity. In addition to experiencing bias based on their gender some women will experience additional bias based on their race, sexual orientation, disability or other aspects of their identify, compounding the discrimination they face. 

At BT we have several events to celebrate IWD and to discuss the #BreakTheBias theme. I’ve been involved in the creation of these as in addition to my day-to-day role in BT Wholesale, I am also chair of BT’s Gender Equality Network. Our vision is that everyone, no matter their gender, has the opportunity to achieve their goals in the way that’s right for them. We do this by challenging the business and inspiring change with policy, process and cultural norms that create gender equality. We listen to our colleagues and help feedback to the business. 

BT has made a strong commitment to tackle all forms of bias and discrimination, and to advance gender equality. Key to this is kick-starting the conversation, raising awareness of issues and listening to our colleagues.

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