On International Women’s Day 2019 BRUIN Financial joined over 500 attendees at the Guildhall for The City of London IWD Breakfast. This event celebrates the contribution of women to the Square Mile with a particular focus on encouraging and supporting young people on their chosen career pathway and promises to bring new ideas and inspiration.
The event was chaired by Journalist and ITV newsreader Julie Etchingham, alongside a panel of distinguished speakers including Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mulally; Leanne Kemp, Tech Entrepreneur and Founder of Everledger, and Wing Commander Sarah Maskell MBE.
The theme for IWD 2019 is ‘Balance for Better’, highlighting that balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue and one that affects all sectors. The race is now on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage.
One of the key themes of the breakfast was the centenary of women’s suffrage, but with a key emphasis on work that still needs to be done to achieve gender equality, notably in the worlds of politics, business, science and culture. Julie Etchingham noted a recent speech given by Angela Merkel’s in which she acknowledged much had been achieved over past decades on the road to gender equality but “a swallow does not a summer make”, she added. “The fact that I exist should not be an excuse.”
Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally, 133rd Bishop of London echoed these sentiments in her address, sharing some personal anecdotes of her experience as the most senior woman in the Church of England, in the 3rd most senior post overall. She revealed that alongside the everyday misassumptions, there are around 13% of the clergy who do not accept women as priests, for which the COE makes a provision. Rather than rail against this, one of her key messages was that ‘selfhood begins when I walk away from the expectation of others’, and instead of being overwhelmed by the pressuring of having ‘big shoes to fill’; she focused on the importance of her own shoes and voice. Her advice to women in a similar situation was “if we can’t see anyone who looks like us, there may be an ‘us’ sized hole waiting for us to fill it”.
Leanne Kemp, Founder of Everledger stressed the importance of looking back at where we have come from, highlighting that we are living in the most fragile of times, and that it is up to all of us to step collectively forward together. Kemp drew on her experience as a tech entrepreneur to encourage business leaders to focus on the future of work as the future of skills and how these are used in the workplace. Her closing statement was “It’s not the shoes you stand in, its you stand for” that is critical and most importantly, women should be empowered to “stand up”.
Wing Commander Sarah Maskell MBE shared how her childhood in Yorkshire and limited choices had influenced her decision to join the RAF. She described her desire to continue further education, but in the absence of any role models to turn to and financial restrictions she had approached the RAF for support in pursuing her dream. She described how the admittance officer had suggested she enrol for officer training, something she hadn’t previously considered and her biggest take away for women was to “be the change you want to see”. She encouraged attendees to follow the example of the admittance officer and consider “when is your next opportunity to give someone a chance?” and “what can you do to make a change today?”.
ABOUT THE IWD CITY BREAKFAST
The City of London International Women’s Day Breakfast Event is now in its thirteenth year and has raised over £270,000 for Refuge – the country’s largest provider of specialist domestic violence services. Refuge opened the world’s first refuge in West London in 1971. On any given day, Refuge is supporting more than 6,000 women and children, who may have experienced domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, so-called ‘honour’ based violence, FGM, forced marriage or modern slavery. Its services save and transform lives.