As a company in the tech industry, when it comes to gender equality, we have come a long way!

The number of female employees at Agilitas has increased from 11% to 38% in just a few years. What’s even more encouraging is this hasn’t been a forced change, instead we’ve attracted more women organically – perhaps a combination of us as a business introducing more family friendly policies as well as a shift in general trends, with more women taking up roles within the technology industry.

To keep this momentum building and to continue the great progress being made both within our business and across the world, at Agilitas, we have chosen to recognise International Women’s Day as both a time to celebrate and reflect gender equality.

We wanted to understand exactly what the day meant to the women of Agilitas, so we asked them…

When asked ‘What does International Women’s Day means to you?‘ two very clear themes emerged – reflection and celebration.

There was a very strong sentiment to use the day as a time to reflect on the past, in particular the women who have fought for the rights that we have today.

It was also recognised that there has been a lot of change in a relatively short space of time with some colleagues describing how different things were at the start of their careers, to now. Seeing it develop and evolve, especially at pace in recent years was of real interest to Bev:

“As a female leader, who has developed through the ranks, and can look back at ‘how things used to be’, the opportunities that are now available to women in particular have certainly become more inclusive.”

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IWD was also seen as an opportunity to celebrate both the achievements in our own social and work circles, as well as high profile people which are providing greater representation. There was acknowledgement that being a woman today still has challenges and so IWD brought a sense of empowerment to continue to aim high, overcome obstacles and challenge it!

Inspired by women both near and far

We were keen to understand who has inspired the women of Agilitas to be the amazing people they are today! A number of inspirational names were thrown into the mix including Oprah Winfrey who started life with poverty and abuse to become the global icon that she is today, writer Maya Angelou whose memoirs gave African American women a voice and Ruth Ginsberg who overcame many obstacles because of her gender to pursue a career in law, becoming only the second woman to be appointed to the US Supreme Court. Ginsberg also became a trailblazer for women’s rights, challenging sexist laws and policies and playing a massive role in how the law is for women today.

In politics, two contrasting characters were highlighted, with Margaret Thatcher demonstrating a strong presence in a male-dominated environment and ‘holding her own’ despite many disliking her and her policies, whilst Jacinda Ardern was also mentioned as the youngest female head of government in the world, having a baby whilst in office and steering New Zealand through the Covid-19 pandemic.

England netballer Layla Guscoth who worked as a doctor alongside playing in the Netball Superleague, returning from the Australian netball league during the COVID-19 pandemic to work at a hospital in Birmingham, as well as US tennis player Serena Williams and the England lionesses were all role models mentioned by our employees from the world of sport.

Despite these amazing public figures forming such iconic role models, the people that were most likely to inspire our colleagues were the family and friends that surround them in their daily lives:

“My mum inspires me every day. She is incredibly kind, conscientious, caring, loving and goes above and beyond for me and my family and while having faced some tough challenges throughout her life,”

“My grandmother is one of my first role models. Having arrived in this country as part of the Windrush generation she went on to become a professional and independent black woman during very challenging times, becoming a well-respected member of our pillar here in Nottingham and achieving great personal and financial success.”

“I have been very lucky to have strong female members of my family growing up. I have never really had inspirational women in my working life until very recently. I find my current leadership team now really inspiring.”

The challenges that remain

Whilst there is recognition that huge strides have been made for gender equality, the women of Agilitas were unanimous in believing that challenges still remain. Natasha raised that although women were starting to be represented in traditionally male dominated environments, they were still being looked at as a woman and not a person, e.g. a female football commentator as opposed to a commentator.

Unconscious bias and learned behaviour was also seen as a challenge, with people perhaps not being aware that they could be discriminating.  Antonia also commented that women have to work harder to be taken seriously, whilst Julie, Serena and Grace all agreed that women need to voice their opinions louder to get listened to and still face the challenge of being undermined.

Also raised was the challenges of juggling work and family life, and whilst it was great that women were having more presence in the workplace, they were often still seen as the primary care giver and so without workplace flexibility, they were immediately hindered by a barrier.

Sadly, the team also felt that women in general were more likely to face harassment, workplace discrimination, unequal pay and negative stereotypes. Improvements to women’s safety was an area that many of our women felt needed greater attention, with concerns surrounding drink spiking, walking alone and violence against women.

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Progress continues

So, what do the women of Agilitas think could be done to keep momentum heading in the right direction?

In the workplace, greater flexibility and understanding surrounding women’s health would be a big plus. Adjustments such as flexible work hours, being able to work from home, having access to quiet spaces and having more open conversations about women’s health, such as periods and the menopause, were all suggestions to help make work environments more accessible to women.

Mentorship and personal development plans were suggested as methods for empowering women in the workplace providing them with confidence to aim for promotions and managerial roles, whilst diversity training for all was suggested as a way to reduce unconscious bias and enable greater awareness for all.

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Not just for women

The women of Agilitas also felt that getting men involved in the conversation was an extremely important part of the process. It is important that they can share their perspective, celebrate their female colleagues and support the changes to make a more inclusive environment for all, both in and out of work.

We are excited this year to be hosting a number of activities to celebrate International Women’s Day for all of the Agiliteam to get involved in and we look forward to sharing this with you.