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International Women's Day 2023 - our Women's Network

Research shows that bias contributes to women being passed over for jobs and promotions, and almost 60% of women regularly experience microaggressions at work. Knowing that these issues exist isn’t enough. We all need to take action.

Research shows that bias contributes to women being passed over for jobs and promotions, and almost 60% of women regularly experience microaggressions at work.  Additionally, for many women, finding meaningful support at work is a major challenge.  About 20% of women say they‘re often the only woman in the room at work.

Knowing that these issues exist isn’t enough. We all need to take action. 

How can we make sure that true equality exists in the place we spend many of our waking hours, every working day?

It’s this question that makes me so excited to be the new chair of our refreshed Women’s Network. Even though International Women’s Day brings us to the forefront – and is an important date to mark and celebrate women – it shouldn’t just be today. It should be something we do each and every day, and that we do without even thinking. But there’s a lot of work to be done.

We want to be a company as diverse and reflective as the communities we serve. We want an environment where women feel safe and feel equal. I’m really passionate about this issue, and I’m excited because we already have some amazing women at Southern Water with a wealth of experience and stories to share.

The challenges and the solutions

At the moment, our workforce is 25% women. It’s not a bad figure; but it’s not great, and I believe there’s much more we can do to increase it. I’ve started by revitalising the Women’s Network, and I’m very grateful to have the committed backing of our Executive team. The network has already doubled in size in just two months, and we’ve identified three key areas we want to deliver and show that the network can get things done. I hope in turn, that’ll encourage more people to join.

Why the Women’s Network is needed

We know this is a male dominated industry and company. Although the culture is changing here, and we're educating our colleagues as to some of the challenges we, as women, face in this industry, there’s still a lot of work to be done. I think the women's network can shine a light on some great examples we can share with the business, with the Executive, with the Senior Management Team - and wider - of how we want our business to operate.

There are still too many examples from the network of women being asked to take notes in meetings, or to hand out the coffees. The network has had some really good conversations around that! But it’s a great educational piece around the subtle behaviours towards women. Hopefully, the work we do will give women the confidence to voice their opinions, and to speak up and speak out.

How I’m going to help

So, I’m going to develop a suite of events around career development, guest speakers, personal safety, mentoring and lots of other exciting things. I’m determined to keep up the momentum, to stop it falling into a network where people join the call once a month, have a little bit of a moan - and nothing happens.

One of my first tasks is implementing the many different ways there are to attract more women to work in in male dominated industries. I’ll be working with our recruitment team to write our job adverts to really promote job-shares, flexible working and to gender decode job descriptions.

International Women's Day isn't just for women, like our Women's Network isn't just for women. It's inclusive for everyone. And I really believe, particularly with our network, it should be a rich membership of men and women. Because the benefits of a male managers understanding how to support their female colleagues – for example pre, during and post-menopause - would be truly amazing, and have a far longer-lasting impact than just one day.