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International Women's Day: A View from our CEO, Meeta Sahni

Posted on 8th March 2017

International Women’s Day is a subject that’s so close to my heart. I come from a family of four children, one girl with three older brothers. I had a father, who came from nothing and was a first generation immigrant to the United Kingdom from India, who was able to recognise the equality of women and I saw that first hand. I was encouraged to never have limits on what I could achieve and yet we currently have a world, a Western world, with all the opportunity, financial security, and expansive knowledge available where we still can’t treat women as equals. That is what is key here, equality. It’s disappointing to see that it is the minority who uphold the values of the equality that we strive for, as in this world we are still struggling to achieve and must continue a hard campaign for change. We must be bold for change. International women’s day shouldn’t be just a day, it should be a continuous and maintained effort; something to be fought for. It should be the mind-set and strategy to ensure that as a world, an economy, and as a human race, we recognise and identify the value that women bring.

International Women’s Day is not about raising the standard of women above all else, it’s striving to create equality between both men and women. I work in a female dominated business, but we work to buck the trends, we want to create a world internally that reflects the world outside and likewise for our clients, we want them to have a world that reflects this.

Despite the changes that are coming through the higher education system, it’s clear that some of the reasons for the lack of equality in the working world came from the fact that women needed to be at home to bring up children; yet this is the first generation where we can actually have it all. Technological advancement, agile working, shared parental leave, are all laws and trends helping to create a more equal world. What we have to be careful of however, is not making women, or men for that matter, feel that they have to do it all to feel valued, so it really is a fine line.

Something we brought into The Maine Group in 2016 was agile and flexible working. This movement will facilitate both women and men to support their families at home, and equally benefit from successful careers. We have to embrace technology. These days, whether you are working from a desk in central London, or from your home in Croydon or Shepherds Bush, you should be able to deliver the same quality. We have brought this into our world to champion that mind-set, measuring output not input.

The future for me, is a world where young women will feel empowered to have their choice. Just as men rarely feel the need to question what their choice is and measure themselves against anyone else, we want women that have that same freedom of choice, just as I was lucky enough to have growing up. No matter what women  do, or what they choose, it has to be a right for them.

Part of what I am doing, and will continue to do, is mentoring the next generation. Mentoring young women into a mind-set of no limits, allowing them to achieve their goals, and encouraging them  to aim higher and higher; helps remove the barriers that are subconsciously instilled from a young age through society, tradition, and culture.

We can see that we are making progress. We are working hard to place more women in to senior level positions and top management, but this still stands in only 26% of companies, with the average female worker earning $1 to the average male workers $1.85.[1] It’s not enough. EY and the World Economic Forum have calculated that at the current rate of progress it is going to take to 2186 to close the gender pay gap and have truly equal pay standards. That’s unacceptable.

Ask yourselves, why is this the case?

 I think there’s an apathy, I think because approximately 75% of the executives and boards that are making the decisions are not directly affected by the gender pay gap they don’t know what they don’t know and they therefore can’t fully appreciate how that feels.  This is why this voice has to be stronger, so boards can be questioned on their decisions, so that we can bring 2186 to 2020. Somebody has to be bold, we can be bold. Somebody has to stand up for the rights of equality, and this really means that alongside women, men have an equal part to play. Be bold for change.

For more information or to let us know your thoughts, please get in touch with Meeta here, you can also call her at our office on 020 7734 7341

[1] http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2016/economies/#economy=GBR

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