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International Women’s Day 2022 – #BreakTheBias

March 8, 2022

By Maureen Ikwudirim, Solicitor/Specialist Litigator – Team 13

Imagine a gender equal world.  A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. So, this International Women’s Day (IWD), we are celebrating women’s achievement, raising awareness against bias, and taking action for equality.

Every woman’s path is different and challenging

Every woman’s path is different and as society and technology evolves, so do the challenges for women.

For me personally IWD holds great significance as I have overcome many challenges to get to where I am today as a Black professional woman with children.

It is a day to reflect on those women who have been instrumental and the women who have been pioneers who stood for change.  It is also important because it celebrates what women have achieved as a gender and to remind ourselves to continue to actively uplift, support and motivate one another (regardless of gender).

IWD and what is stands for, is hugely important to me because it is about breaking down the bias in all areas of our lives. For me, IWD provides a much-needed space to ensure women’s voices are heard and celebrated. I hope that we can build in further opportunities for permanent, growing involvement of young girls and women at all levels and every day.

Whether deliberately or unconsciously, prejudice makes it difficult for women to move ahead.

Knowing that bias exists is not enough. Action is needed to level the playing field.  It is important for me working and raising young children to actively call out the gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping each and every time.

Dealing with bias and experiencing unfair stereotypes

I’ve had to deal with bias, sadly too many times.

I’ve experienced unfair stereotypes, prejudices, unconscious bias, and discrimination. Consequently, this has resulted in unfair expectations, unique challenges, and biased assumptions about where I fit in the workplace. I have had to navigate through these difficult and uncomfortable work situations and many times I have had to unfairly prove my worth.

The gender pay gap has always been an issue and was particularly evident during my period of maternity leave.

It made me feel undervalued, affected my confidence and my morale, which then transcended into my homelife. I had to self-advocate, which was exhausting but necessary; I have had those uncomfortable conversations regarding legal obligations.

 

International Women’s Day is an opportunity for celebration

IWD 2022 is opportunity for Fletchers to celebrate the many accomplishments that women across the firm have achieved.

The day serves as an ideal time for the firm to continue to strengthen its commitment and reinforce inclusive behaviour. The celebration also helps in understanding and appreciating the role of women within the business and in broader communities, and at the same time, highlighting that there is still so much to be done.

I am still new to Fletchers but from what I have seen so far, it is pleasing to note that there are many forums in place where employees’ voices are positively recognised. It is important for companies/firms to value diversity and to recognise the positive impact it has on employment engagement.

I also appreciate that Fletchers is releasing unconscious bias training this week, showing that it is celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias and acting for equality.

Ensuring everyone feels included beyond International Women’s Day

We all have a responsibility to ensure that everyone feels included and has a voice.

If you feel like you’re being biased against, the first point of call should be speaking to someone that you trust.

Here at Fletchers, team members can contact a Mental Health Champion for a confidential chat. You can also find out if a similar support network is available to you.

Mental Health Champions are trained to listen, empathise and signpost those who need it to professional third-party support. They do not offer advice, but instead provide a safe space for those who need to be heard in a non-judgemental environment.

Alternatively, there is also free and impartial support available through the Employee Assistance Programme, EAP, and also directly through your local NHS.

If you see something that is not right, do the right thing, be bold enough to call it out and positively help to contribute to change.

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