Each year, people come together across the globe to set aside a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. We mark it in our calendars, we schedule events and social content, we share the stories of inspirational women and we pledge to make strides towards achieving gender parity.
But why does International Women’s Day matter? Is it still relevant to the modern world?
My answer to that is a resounding “yes”. It matters because across the world, people still face gender biases each and every day. We have to stand up and be active voices for change, choosing each day to consciously question the status quo. To quote the theme for 2021’s International Women’s Day, we must #ChooseToChallenge.
Women are to thank for some of the most ground-breaking technological developments and societal advances this world has ever seen. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, for example, was responsible for bringing the smallpox vaccine to the UK and convincing those in power to accept its efficacy: without her, many of us simply would never have been born as our predecessors would have been taken by the disease. Marie Curie discovered radioactivity; Rosalind Franklin the DNA double helix; Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar. The list is endless, yet all too often women are not given the opportunity to achieve their full potential.
When my mum was at school, she achieved top grades: she got into a good grammar school and she worked hard. The world was at her feet; she could have been anything. But because she was a woman, she was given the options of nurse, teacher, secretary, civil servant. My sister is exceptionally intelligent and a senior Consultant in the NHS, but if she had been born a generation earlier, she would probably would have been a nurse.
Fast forward to today and women have come a long way in terms of achieving greater gender equality. Since my mother was at school, we’ve had two female Prime Ministers, women now make up one in three boardroom roles at the top 350 UK firms and the gender pay gap continues to decline. However, there is still a way to go.
At Centurion, we are proud of the progress we have made. Women make up around half our workforce and are represented at every level in the company. But that doesn’t mean we should be complacent or keep quiet. International Women’s Day is just one day: we want to choose each day to challenge the status quo and drive positive action.
What we do and say and how we act now affects what happens in the future. It matters because it ripples out. Actions, however small they may seem, can have unmeasurable impacts.
I want us to continue to push ourselves to be a place that offers truly equal opportunities, embracing differences such as gender, race or age rather than viewing them as a threat. A diverse workforce is one that is filled with creativity, innovation and passion, and that is what I aspire to achieve at Centurion.
Above all, I want Centurion to be a company that never lets anybody wonder what could have been.
Nick Hurt (CEO)