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  • Writer's pictureZoë Rose

International Women’s Day 2024

The UN’s theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is “Invest in women: Accelerate progress” but what does that look like?


For an organisation?


A few years ago I wrote an article about diversity and how we often hire “in our own image” recognising skill and respecting our own talents, but missing out on persons that vary from how we view success.


This is something I have noticed across multiple organisations and many persons, I can even fall into that if I don’t take the time to consciously consider my own choices. It’s called unconscious bias and everyone is susceptible to it.


Organisations can train it’s employees by providing unconscious bias training, give lessons on effective interviewing, invest in its people to go further in their careers, and provide leadership training for managers. Teaching our teams to view differences as strengths, and to respect various skills.


My current role, I was hired over a long process - which isn’t ideal, but often the case with large corporations. However, what is interesting, I was officially hired and started working at 8 months pregnant. Meaning, I worked a whole of 3 weeks before going on maternity leave. Yes, the Netherlands does not give much leave, but that is still an opportunity I would never have imagined when I started my career.


My new role, at the same company, which I start once I return from maternity leave, I was interviewing whilst heavily pregnant as well. I actually finished my final interview whilst on maternity leave, and they had to push the date out because I was about to deliver a child.


For an individual?


One thing I have had to constantly remind myself, especially now as a single mum, is not to hold myself back. To realise that, I am good at what I do, even when my confidence is a bit less solid.


If you’re coming from a minority background, or simply struggling, one thing I would always recommend is celebrating your wins, no matter how small. A win for you, can look massively different than a win for someone else.


My child is learning to use the potty, when they do, we celebrate: clapping, stickers, congratulations… it’s a whole big thing. I don’t celebrate when I use the loo, because for me, that isn’t an achievement - but to my child it is. Why am I telling you this? Again, our wins look different. Don’t belittle your achievements because someone else is doing more, did it younger, achieved it faster - a win is a win, so celebrate.


Sponsorship vs mentorship


For those of you who are not in the minority, or have achieved great things in their career and are now in a privileged position to give back - what can you do?


You can be a listening ear, a source of advice, or even a role model. A mentor is someone who has experiences to share, be it through talking, sharing resources, and/or advising based on their experience.


In some situations, you can even lift people up. Can you recommend someone to a role you think they would excel in? Can you provide financial support via exams, training resources, or industry connections? Can you take time out of your day to ask someone how they are, or how you can help? These are all things a sponsor can provide.


Invest in women means different things for different circumstances, for TDFx and Cisco Live EMEA, it meant enabling me to come with my children. For my current employer, it meant hiring me whilst I was pregnant, twice. For my mentors and friends, it means listening and providing experienced advice.


What does it look like for you?

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