What is International Women’s Day?

Today is International Women’s Day, a worldwide holiday celebrated on March 8th every year to commemorate the cultural, political and socioeconomic achievements of women from all around the world. It looks at the women’s rights movement, and examines issues of gender equality, reproductive rights and violence against women, along with many, many other issues.

“This year’s theme is ‘Break the Bias’, encouraging us to imagine a gender-equal world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination – one that is diverse, equitable and inclusive, and where difference is valued and celebrated” – The Drum.

Every year, loads of brands join in the celebration, and this years has included the likes of Adidas with their I’m Possible campaign, Channel 4’s examination of Manterruptions (the increased likelihood of men interrupting someone of the opposite sex), CPB London (with their amazing ‘Imagine’ posters that challenge subconscious bias – seriously look them up, they’re very interesting!), as well as Barbie, who have unveiled a Barbie role model inspired by Dame Pat McGrath DBE, an incredibly influential makeup artist and founder of her own billion-dollar beauty brand.

Even our trusty friend LinkedIn is getting involved by sponsoring the Uefa Women’s Euro 2022 tournament as part of a two-pronged approach to “make work work for women”.

Speaking of LinkedIn, I’ve been really enjoying all morning seeing women talk about their experiences, and been so thrilled to see that the conversation is able to include all women, regardless of race, sexual preference, or gender identity. As Gloria Steinem famously said, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

For International Women’s Day, we wanted to look around and be thankful for the strong women in our lives, and the female role models that have brought us to where we are today. And who better for Best in Class to look at, than our very own female Director, Sophie Woodcock?

Our Lovely Sophie!

I have, so far, clocked in over fifteen years’ experience in recruitment, and all of my time and efforts have culminated in being a Director of my very own company, Best in Class.

Over the course of my career, I have had to work incredibly hard in every aspect of my role, sometimes even harder than men in the same position have had to. Without a strong female role model to look up to, I had to rely on myself as my own sense of motivation and confidence, something that too me years of time to achieve. I take pride in the focused and knowledgeable approach that I can demonstrate now.

I still believe that in a lot of areas of work life, environments are tailored to men, and that there is still a stigma to women’s work. Much less so than there used to be, because we can’t downplay the amazing progress that has come before us, but in my experience, I’ve seen male co-workers earn much more respect than women, just because of their gender.

This became even more apparent when I started Best in Class. Women are still routinely thought of as more emotional, and more committed to home life, and overall, men receive a higher level of respect and are taken far more seriously. Sometimes, business and the workplace can still be treated like a boy’s club.

If you’re a woman, think of a time you tried to take your car to the garage and they spoke to you as if you didn’t even know how to turn the car on, when you’re the one that drove it there. Well, sometimes it can feel like that.

Running my own business, I am determined to ensure that there are equal opportunities across the board, and that both men and women can achieve a home-life balance that allows for home life and the workplace to run smoothly, regardless of gender. I want to make sure that our place of work is supportive, encouraging and always respectful and fair, and that people enjoy working for and with us. From the feedback we’ve had so far, in our only five short months, I can take pride knowing that we’re doing just that.

Without the confidence that I spent years building for myself, there’s no way that I would have been able to not only start by own business, but to grow it to the successes we’re so happy to be seeing now. As women, we have so much to contribute to the workplace, with new ideas and ways of analysing things, and for lots of women, they continue to do this all while also supporting a family.

So many women that I know are able to so skillfully balance the demands of a workplace and a home life. As much as times have changed and attitudes towards women are vastly different to even our grandparent’s generation, most domestic duties in most cases, still fall to the women.

When discussing International Women’s Day, we talked in our office about how it was always the women in our family who would take time off work when we were sick, or miss meetings to take us to the dentist. Women are just as dynamic and passionate about work as men are, and we manage this while also still making sure we get the kids to school and to swimming lessons on time. And they take it in their stride.

Simply put, women are amazing, and it isn’t down to just one day to show it.