On International Women's Day, what will you pledge for parity?
Today is International Women’s Day. It’s been marked the world over since the early 1900s and focuses on celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call for accelerating gender equality, so I’m delighted to have this opportunity to share my thoughts and aspirations on a topic that’s close to my heart.
I joined Tesco in 2002. During this time I’ve had a number of different roles across our Product and Customer functions and I’ve been lucky to work with many women who were great leaders – even when they weren’t in leadership roles.
Becoming the new Sponsor for Women in Business at Tesco provides me with an opportunity to pay back and enable women in our company the opportunity to be their best self.
Our Women in Business Network met last week and it’s clear they’ve achieved much already to support each other and encourage change at Tesco.
We have been monitoring and reporting on Tesco’s gender pay gap for several years now and we were one of the first employers to sign up to the voluntary Think, Act, Report scheme when it was launched back in September 2011.
Later this month, to celebrate International Women’s Day we’ll host a series of roadshows to connect with women and men in our offices.
I’m passionate about inclusion in the broader sense – for everyone. I was really moved some years ago when I heard Stephen Frost, who was the first Head of Inclusion for an Olympics Organising Committee speaking about how they were structuring their approach across the whole system (from compliance and communications to procurement and recruitment) as they prepared to host London 2012.
I was impressed by how the organisation created a sense of inclusion across the Games and it was this that inspired me to get involved in the ongoing work at Tesco.
Last month I watched the movie Suffragette on my way to India and it struck me that Emmeline Pankhurst and her followers called for equality at the turn of the last century. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day reminds us that, while we’ve achieved much, there’s still much more work to do. Today there are more than 900 million people around the world living in extreme poverty – by far the majority of these are women.
During my visit to India I was fortunate to attend a meeting of Tesco Bengaluru’s Women In Business Network and enjoy tea on the terrace. There’s a strong tradition of Women’s Self Help Groups in India, and society is changing rapidly with the growth of the middle class.
As you can see from our photo, the Network were in confident spirits as they shared their successes, passions and ambitions. I was thrilled to learn how they look out for each other as they navigate their way through new territory for women in the Indian workplace.
The theme of this Year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Pledge for Parity’. My own commitment starts at home with my two young 8 and 7 year old sons and them helping more around the house! You can find more inspiration about the type of pledges you can make here. Please join me in making yours.