Three women of colour sitting on sofas and looking at each other's laptops

This International Women’s Day I’m feeling the same feelings that I have every year. I’m here to celebrate the extraordinary women I’m lucky enough to work with on my team and across the sector. And I’m also feeling frustrated. Why?

Each year International Women’s Day arrives with great fanfare on social media. Don’t get me wrong- it is heartening to see women- and men- celebrating women. I don’t want to change that. Yet recent news stories about women tell another tale.

Earlier this year MPs were told how many workplaces in the City were still ‘an old boy’s club’ with a report by the Treasury Commitee this week finding that women working in this sector still experience shocking levels of sexual harassment and bullying.   And the Angiolini report found that three separate police forces failed to stop Wayne Couzens becoming a police officer, despite the fact he had previously commited serious offences.

So yes, whilst I want to celebrate all the wonderful women I know today, we need more. Women need to be safe, whether in the workplace or when walking alone at night. And it’s appalling that, in 2024, this feels like a long way off.

Let’s talk about representation of women in the workplace. Just 10 of the FTSE 100’s CEOs are female . And the number of female CEOs of charities has declined. Things are not changing fast enough and we all- men and women- need to be calling this out.

Last year I wrote about 5 things men can do to support women, on International Women’s Day and all year round. I know there are lots of men in my network who want to support women and I hope they know I’m here if they need my advice.

And yet, despite the bleak news stories, I have never felt more fired up. We need to keep going, and fighting for change. Here are the things I’m celebrating not just today, but all year round.

  • The camaraderie between women in our sector. There are so many talented and kind women working in and for charities who make huge efforts to support other women. And over the last few years, I’ve been working with a growing number of women on digital projects who are absolutely smashing it. This is the kind of thing which gives me hope, and makes me excited about the next generation of female leaders.
  • The discussion is changing. It’s positive that more people are talking about the menopause and other changes that occur in midlidfe for women. We were lucky enough to speak to Channel 4 newsreader Cathy Newman and author Lorraine Candy on our podcast recently, both on the topic of midlife liberation, and it left me feeling really inspired about the next chapter of my life.
  • My daughter.  I’m delighted that my 11 year old and her friends simply don’t accept many of the things my generation normalised. Recently she was telling me about a boy in her class who was rude to her. I was worried and asked if she was upset. “Oh, he wasn’t helpful, so why would I give him my attention? He isn’t worthy of my time,” she told me firmly. I can’t wait to see what happens when she and her friends enter the workplace.

So please, let’s make fighting for change more than an annual event. There are many reasons to draw strength from the women around us, but inclusion should be a year round endeavour.