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International Women’s Day is an opportunity to come together to celebrate women around the world, breaking long held biases and encouraging diversity and inclusivity. This year, the theme ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’ brings together two important topics for 2022 and calls for climate action for women, by women.

UN Women writes that new data highlights the link between gender and social equity, and climate change, stating that women and girls experience the greater impacts of the climate crisis, and better equality between genders can lead to a more sustainable future.

At Randstad we believe in the value of work, and how it underlies and shapes our society for the better. For us to get that as a result, we need to have a workforce that is diverse, inclusive and equitable for all regardless of gender.

Bringing IWD to more

In 2022 we see International Women’s Day as an important day to reflect on the contributions of women who have come before us, as well as our own contributions and what we’ve achieved in both our professional and personal lives. It's also an opportunity to look forward and see what is still needed to be done to ensure we're championing the cause for future women.

At Randstad, I am proud that we support female team members to climb the career ladder and we monitor the gender pay gap. Beyond supporting gender bias, we’re also a member of Workplace Pride,  promoting greater acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people in the workplace, and are members of Diversity Works to help us ensure diversity and inclusion into our organisation.

IWD
IWD

Over the years, I’ve seen the day get more coverage and become more important to a larger and more diverse group of people. It’s not a day just for women - it's a day for all of us to celebrate, to be proud and reflect on where we've come in society, while also considering what is still to be achieved and how we can all contribute. It’s my hope that this becomes a lifestyle, not so much a day, where we celebrate women around us continuously.

When it comes to leaders within the organisation, it’s important to stand up and talk about the importance of IWD. It can be easy to be a bystander within some of these discussions, and I understand why, but we need to encourage support and celebrate more leaders to speak out, challenge unconscious bias, celebrate diversity and acknowledge what women bring to the workplace.

I recently sat down with four leaders from our organisation to discuss their thoughts around IWD, this year’s theme and their perspective on leadership.

A photo of a woman doing the #BreakTheBias pose
A photo of a woman doing the #BreakTheBias pose

what does International Women's Day mean to you?

For me it’s about three things: reflecting back, celebrating and future thinking. By that I mean, it’s about remembering what people before our time have done in order to fight for women’s rights and progress our society. Then, it’s about recognising and celebrating our own achievements in our lives and work. Finally, the day is an opportunity for forward planning, and thinking about what else we can be doing to raise the profile of women in the workplace.

We can also use the day to do reading and research on women that are doing amazing things or choose to buy from female businesses and entrepreneurs. Of course, we can be doing this throughout the year, but the day is a good chance to make an extra effort.

Elizabeth Taylor
team leader - business support

It’s important to reflect, recognise and celebrate the achievements of other women that you know, not only within your organisation but also in your family or wider circle. In our family, we've got a tradition where we celebrate my birthday, which is also on the 8th of March, by supporting female-owned businesses. It’s a really nice way to come together and honour, even in a simple way, the powerful women within our family and those that are doing great work.

Nolene Kloppers
team leader - education
A photo of Samantha doing the #BreakTheBias pose
A photo of Samantha doing the #BreakTheBias pose

I like to consider myself a proud independent woman, and I surround myself with others who are the same. We recognise the day even in small ways, be it taking a coffee to a friend or sending notes of appreciation, or I’ll call my Mum to thank her. At my partner’s work, the women in the business get taken out to lunch.

As leaders, we can be doing these things that may seem small but go a long way. Ultimately, I'm a believer in the fact that it shouldn't just be a day, it should be a lifestyle. I hope in the future, that equality is normalised, to the point that it is standard practice. But for now, yes, it’s important we make the effort to commemorate the day.

Samsara Cawley
team leader - contact centre & business support
A photo of a woman doing the #BreakTheBias pose
A photo of a woman doing the #BreakTheBias pose

As a mother, the most important thing to me about International Women's Day is making sure that the two girls I'm raising are becoming strong, independent women. While I think we’re doing well there’s still a lot of work to be done.

For instance, my four year old niece doesn’t think she can be a doctor because she’s a girl. This type of thinking comes from the adults around her and the culture. We can be a part of the change by shifting the conversation and calling out these things when we see or hear them. We can encourage that girl and say yes, you can be a doctor or anything you want to be.

Erica Coleman
team leader - technology

this year’s theme is ‘Changing Climates: Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’. why is equality an important aspect of sustainability and climate action?

Elizabeth Taylor - team leader - business support

  • As women tend to be in lower-paid jobs or lower socio-economic groups, they are going to be heavily impacted by the negative effects of climate change. In addition, women are often typically in charge of shopping for food or growing it, or they’re in caretaker roles. In other countries, they may have a lot to do with the land where they live, for instance. In this way, women are making important decisions that will have an impact on the climate. Giving them a platform to talk or listen to key information is crucial. Many women are already doing great things - if we give them a platform, get them more rights, then they can be empowered to communicate and drive action within our communities.

Nolene Kloppers - team leader - education

  • Women are key contributors to our communities and have naturally nurturing qualities. We are normally the caregivers and are closely in touch with our children’s lives. This puts us in a unique position of being able to drive long term climate resilience by empowering not only our generation but also children and upcoming generations from a young age. In this way, I feel if we empower women we empower real, consistent change.

Samsara Cawley - team leader - contact center & business support

  • To create a sustainable future you need diversity. You need different opinions and different experiences to face problems. If that problem is climate action and change, we need to diversify perspectives. If there’s only one voice and form of representation, I don’t think we're going to get very far as a society. This is why it’s important to have equality at all levels - then we can ensure we have multiple voices and multiple different ways of thinking, and people who've experienced different things, all contributing.

Erica Coleman - team leader - technology

  • I always refer back to my kids and when we’re talking about a sustainable tomorrow I automatically think about my children. Sustainability is important because it builds a future for the next generation. If we don’t consider equality, if we don’t have diverse opinions, we’re not challenging the status quo and we don't actually know if we have the right solution or if there is a better option. When women are in professions dominated by men, such as being a doctor, for instance, they bring a different view and perspective to the mix. There are certain characteristics or perspectives of being a woman, such as being caring, compassionate or nurturing, which needs to be more regarded.
customer service roles near you.
customer service roles near you.

what can and should leaders be doing to support the cause?

Elizabeth Taylor - team leader - business support

  • In a broad sense, I would say practise what you preach. As a team leader, it's important to showcase the small changes and what we do in our day-to-day life, and show other people what we do. We learn by example and we can have a really positive influence on our people and teams. This also means we can broadcast what we do and be proud of it. Personally, I'm involved in other groups out of work that are focused on the environment and how you can make sustainable food communities or grow food so you're mitigating your carbon footprint. When we talk about what we’re doing personally, people can learn and be inspired themselves. It’s not about big dramatic changes overnight, but about being consistent and open.

Nolene Kloppers - team leader - education

  • We are, as leaders, in the position to influence not only our own team but also the wider business, to create a work culture that empowers women and other non-binary team members so they are all included in the conversation, and to participate in and champion equality together. As leaders, we can form partnerships with charities or communities to give girls and women the education, skills and opportunities that they need to succeed. For me, I’ve been involved in mentorship, where I’ve witnessed my mentee move from success to success, recently receiving bursaries so she can take her studies even further.

Samsara Cawley - team leader - contact center & business support

  • I would love to see a future where equality isn't the conversation in the room, it's just standard practice, and I think we do that through representation and by helping other women. It’s a stigma that other women can be more intimidated by up-and-coming women than men, and it’s our responsibility as leaders to uplift and celebrate women. It’s shocking to me that we still have so few female CEOs in this country, and we need to work together to increase that percentage. At Randstad, we have a platform called Connect where leaders can celebrate the wins and success of our people. This is a chance to celebrate equality by giving a platform for women, but also treating women and men equally.

Erica Coleman - team leader - technology

  • Championing women in the workplace is the responsibility of everyone. We have to ask ourselves, ‘what can we do to ensure that women are supported?’, and this includes our whole team. I can, hand in heart, say that all of our male leaders, general managers and team leaders do support the women in this business. If we go back to that ‘break the bias’ tagline, it’s not only about women speaking up but our male counterparts calling out bias, unnecessary or crass humour, belittlement or any of these other activities that can still go on today.

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A photo of a woman working behind a desk in the public sector industry.
A photo of a woman working behind a desk in the public sector industry.
about the author

Katherine Swan

country director, new zealand